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Forgive & Forget? How to Let Go of Your Past and Forgive Yourself

You keep reliving it even though it was years ago. You wake up from a dead sleep, play the whole thing in your head and cringe. Why did you say that? What were you thinking? You shouldn’t beat yourself up over the past , but if you do, you’re certainly not alone.

Four in five women suffer from low self-esteem, the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report found. Low self-confidence can spill over into other areas of your life, causing nine out of ten women who suffer from it to avoid important activities such as socializing with friends when they don’t feel like they look good. This can breed anxiety and anger, making it difficult to forgive those perceived as contributing to your emotional distress. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to break this cycle. Here are five ways to get past self-confidence issues to forgive others, yourself and let go of past baggage that’s holding you back.

Accept How Your Values Have Changed Since the Past

One of the hardest parts of learning to forgive can be forgiving yourself. Often, we blame ourselves for our past, making it hard to forgive ourselves, which affects our ability to forgive others. Americans generally find it easier to forgive others than themselves, with 53 percent willing to seek help forgiving others, while only 43 percent are willing to seek help forgiving themselves, according to Fetzer Institute research.

One thing that can make forgiving yourself easier is realizing that your values have changed since the incident that hurt you. You probably thought and behaved very differently at that time in your life than you do now. Say for example, you did something dumb and regrettable after drinking too much at a college party. Rather than beating yourself up over the mistake that happened years ago, learn from it. Faced with the same choice now, you’d likely do things differently. Accept that you’re a different, more mature person now and you don’t need to continue feeling the same way you felt then. If you have trouble reaching this point on your own, consider talking to a therapist who can help you work through past issues.

Realize You Did the Best You Could at the Time

Another reason you may be blaming yourself for the past is that you feel like it’s your fault you didn’t do things differently. This may be blaming yourself for things that were beyond your control. It’s easy to look back and say “I should have done this or I could have said that.” Realizing that the way you behaved in the past was shaped by your life experiences at that time can be helpful. Give yourself some credit, and some leeway to make mistakes and grow up. It’s not always a graceful process.You probably did the best you could with the experiences and resources you had available then, which may have been limited. You may be evaluating yourself based on what you know now, without taking into account that you didn’t know as much back then. Don’t beat yourself up over things you didn’t have the experience to handle.

Turn Your Biggest Regrets into a Positive To-Do List

Dwelling on regrets from your past — about things that were done to you or things that you did — can trap you in a cycle of anxiety and anger or other negative emotions. But you can transform these negatives into positive motivation by using your regrets as learning opportunities. Make a list of some things you wish would have turned out differently. Use this to generate a to-do list of goals you’d like to accomplish. For example:

  • If you wished you’d treated your past significant other better, make it a conscious priority with your next (or current) one.
  • If you lost your cool when your best friend told you about something you didn’t agree with, make a point of listening first, rather than talking, in all conversations.
  • If one bar tends to turn into four and a night of poor decisions, make a commitment to leave at a certain time. “One more drink” is almost always a bad idea.

What a privilege to use your past experiences — good and bad — to make your future a more positive experience for you and those around you.

Accept That Your Life’s Experiences Have Made You Who You Are Today

To forgive past wrongs, it can help to accept that good or bad, your past experiences have made you who you are today. These experience have shaped both your positive and negative character traits. You can’t change the past, but you can move forward based on who you are now. Accept your present self and use your past learning experiences to continue improving yourself from this point on.

Cut Yourself Some Slack: Mistakes Happen

A perfectionist attitude can contribute to low self-confidence and anger toward ourselves and others. If we expect ourselves to be perfect, we can never live up to our own standards and will have a hard time forgiving ourselves. It will also make it hard for us to accept and forgive others. Reminding yourself occasionally that no one is perfect can help you cut yourself some slack and relieve some anxiety.

Forgiving yourself isn’t an easy feat. It requires acceptance you did your best with the information you had at the time. It involves breaking the cycle of negative thoughts. It means you have to cut yourself some slack and let go of the pain you don’t need to carry around. It’s hard work, but is what you must do to grow.

If you need additional help to work through these issues, consider scheduling an appointment with a licensed therapist. ThriveTalk is a teletherapy service that lets you schedule appointments from any location using your phone or a webcam. To schedule an appointment or for more information, contact us here.



What Do You Do After Your Partner Cheats?

In the last 24 hours, you’ve gone from crying your eyes out in the closet to throwing your shoes across the room to blasting music to blaming yourself. It’s devastating to learn your partner has cheated on you, and those first few days can feel like you’re living a real-life nightmare.

After the tears and the shoes and the music have passed, you have some tough decisions to make: Should you stay? Should you try couples counseling? Is the relationship worth saving? Can you ever trust them again?

Decide: Do You Want to Stay?

Quick, what’s your gut reaction to that question? Do you want to fight for your love, or do you know — deep down, even if it’s difficult to admit — that it’s over? Opinions will run to extremes on this one, but don’t let anyone else make this decision for you. This is the time to do some soul searching. Use these questions to gauge how you feel:

  • Is your love strong? Is your partner normally a loving and supportive ally who lifts you up?
  • Could this be a one-time mistake, an aberration? Or is this another link in the chain of disappointments you’ve been experiencing with your partner?
  • Do they, in general, treat you well and make you feel valued?
  • Are you constantly unhappy with their behavior, this episode of cheating aside?
  • Is fear of being alone the main thing keeping you in the relationship?
  • Is the quality of your life better with your partner in it?

If you choose to discuss this with friends or family, understand that they will be rightfully protective of you. It is possible to repair a relationship after a partner has cheated, but first you need to decide if it’s worth repairing. You and only you can decide if you should stay.

If Yes, Communicate & Identify

If you want to stay in the relationship and try to re-establish trust, you’ll need to do two things:

1. communicate openly about the infidelity

2. identify why it happened

Even if it doesn’t feel good (and it won’t), don’t attempt to ignore this important part of the healing process and just “move on.” Both of you need to be willing to talk this through.

It’s OK, at this stage, to tell your partner how hurt and angry you are (what’s not OK: lashing out violently, destroying property and trashing your partner on social media). They need to know how their behavior affected you.

You are (understandably) angry at first. When you can explore these kinds of things without blowing up, ask your partner some pointed questions to learn more about the infidelity. For example:

  • Why did they cheat?
  • Why did they decide to tell you (if they indeed did)?
  • If they got caught: Would they have continued to cheat, if they hadn’t been discovered?
  • Are they just sorry they got caught?
  • How will things be different?

Ultimately, the goal is to learn why they cheated. Once you get to the heart of the matter, you’ll both better understand how to fix what went wrong. You’ll both need to be patient with the other during the “fix it” stage — yes, there’s been betrayal and hurt feelings, but if they truly seem apologetic and intent on changing and getting through it, you’ll have to work on forgiving them, too.

Consider Couples Counseling

If the pain of the infidelity is too great or too messy to navigate just the two of you, consider going to couples counseling. A licensed therapist is trained to guide this type of discussion in healthy, productive ways. Oftentimes, an objective third party is exactly who you need to help you communicate and process your feelings. People do heal from infidelity, and it is possible to forgive, grow and deepen your bond.

If you decide to seek couples counseling, your therapist will likely start the process by facilitating an honest evaluation of the relationship. Together, you are trying to establish:

  • What are the relationship’s strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Are there any major issues, such as codependency or any kind of abuse?
  • Why do each of you think the relationship should continue?

Cheating is often a sign of deeper troubles in the relationship, so your therapist is trying to get to the heart of the matter. Now, in the course of couples counseling, it’s not uncommon for the therapist to unearth individual issues that you and your partner should work on outside of couples counseling. You, for example, may be struggling with long-standing codependency issues that are independent of your partner; your partner may have, for example, anger issues or feelings of inadequacy that predate you as well. In this case, your therapist will recommend separate and simultaneous individual therapy.

If after couples counseling, the relationship still doesn’t work out — at least you know you took this step. Many times a couple will enter couples therapy and, through the process, decide to end the relationship. A therapist can be helpful in this case, too. They can help you both cope with the heartache of the breakup.

Know When to Say When

Sometimes, the damage is just too great, or a relationship has too many other problems to survive. Don’t live for months or years angry and victimized — and don’t make your partner pay for their mistake that long, either. If you can’t forgive and move on, it is best to end the relationship and part ways. Again, a licensed counselor can help you work through the pain of a breakup and onto a healthy and happy life.

After a partner cheats, it may seem like nothing will ever be OK again. It is possible to heal and forgive, but it takes work. If you’ve decided to stay in the relationship, commit to discovering why it happened and how to move forward.

Reach out to a professional counselor for help. ThriveTalk provides teletherapy services for busy people who need help getting through tough times, such as when a partner cheats. Couples counseling may be what you need to survive this period and emerge even stronger.


How to Cope With a Divorce

Everyone’s heard the “half of all marriages end in divorce” statistic. And like most things in life, the impact of this statistic is negligible until it happens to you.

Divorce is devastating, even under the best of circumstances. The sadness, stress and emotions can be overwhelming at times. If you’re going through a painful divorce and it feels like you’re just not coping well, take heart — you can heal. We have some tips that should make today just a little bit better than yesterday.

Acknowledge Your Emotions

To put it bluntly: It’s normal to be a mess. Divorce isn’t just the dissolution of a union, it’s saying goodbye to our dream of attaining our very own happily ever after. That feels terrible.

In fact, divorce requires a grieving process similar to what we go through when a loved one dies. It’s completely appropriate to feel a wide range of emotions — anger, sadness, fear, frustration, confusion — and there doesn’t need to be any rhyme or reason as to why you feel what at any given time.

The negative feelings will lessen over time, but in the meantime, give yourself permission to feel. Divorce is messy, but sometimes acknowledging that fact inherently makes it just a tiny bit easier. 

Go Easy on Yourself

You will likely be less productive than you normally are. That’s OK. You probably won’t feel like doing much of anything; that’s OK too. You don’t need to be superwoman. Treat yourself as you would treat your own sick best friend.

Granted, you can’t drop out of life completely, but it’s perfectly acceptable for your productivity and social life to take a downward turn while you go through a divorce. As long as you don’t stay there for months and months, this is to be expected.

Seek Support

This tip is vital: Lean on others for support. Talk, cry, express yourself — just don’t keep it bottled up inside. Allow your friends and family to be there for you. 

Sometimes we need more support than an understanding friend can give us. In these cases:

  • Look into divorce support groups. There are Facebook groups and other online forums as well as in-person Meetups and church-based groups. Start with a simple Google search to see what’s available and sounds good to you.
  • Seek professional counseling. If the pain of your divorce is too much or if you are having difficulty carrying out normal day-to-day activities, it may be time to seek divorce counseling.

Care for Your Body and Mind

Stress can cause myriad health problems, including headaches, insomnia, exhaustion, overeating/weight gain, digestive problems and reduced immune function. In addition, stress can cause a host of ill emotional effects, including anxiety, depression, inability to focus, lack of motivation, irritability and anger. No fun at all.

It’s essential you take care of yourself during this time. Doing so will minimize the effects of stress, helping you to recover and move on. Now more than ever is the time to:

  • Eat well
  • Get regular exercise
  • Keep a regular sleeping schedule
  • Spend time in nature
  • Nurture your friendships
  • Make time to relax and do things you enjoy
  • Tend to your spirit through prayer/meditation (or whatever that means to you)

Avoid Power Struggles & Arguments with Your Ex

One of the most important life lessons that will help you get through this difficult time is this: You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself and how you react to them.

Stop trying to force your ex to see it your way, be sorry for something, apologize, etc. Don’t get involved in power struggles that are only about being “right.” Refuse to participate in any manipulative or malevolent behavior. In the end, you’ll be happier for it.

Reconnect with Your Prenuptial Hobbies

Did you used to love to restore old furniture? Brew your own beer? Hike? Blog? Now is the time to resurrect any interests and activities you may have let slip when you became part of a couple. Or, explore new ones.

Set Time Aside for Positive Thinking

This is a simple yet powerful tool in overcoming any challenge. Most of us know that positive thinking is — well, positive —  but we don’t make a conscious, concerted effort to do it.

Change that. Block off just five minutes a day and devote them to manifesting good things in your life. Write them down in a “I deserve a joyful life” journal. Learn about the power of positive affirmations, and then do them.

Divorce is one of the toughest things a person can go through but you will get through it and be OK. Take time to grieve the loss, stick close to your loved ones and be good to yourself. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional counselor if you feel overwhelmed or that you can’t go on. ThriveTalk provides online therapy and can help you get through this difficult time. You’re worth it!