Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Optimism: "hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something

I am currently taking a positive psychology class and learning about the benefits of positive thinking. Optimism doesn't necessarily come naturally, hope is something learned through environment and caregivers. So what happens if your 'caregivers' are pessimistic.... well being optimistic may be a struggle. We have the ability to train our minds, we can be conscious about how we feel about something but we are ultimately in charge of our reaction to these feelings. We don't have to act on them, talk about them, vent about them.... we can immediately shut them down and exchange the negative feelings for positive ones. Now im not saying this is easy, but I AM saying this is possible. Training your mind to think anyway other than its natural reaction is obviously difficult but takes time. The mind power it takes to not say negative things when you are feeling them is significant. Think about when you are in a bad mood, one thing after another is happening which you find yourself complaining about or thinking 'this isn't fair'. No one likes feeling negative, or staying in a bad mood, but when we are in that hole, its difficult to get out after being aware of our surroundings. We need to make the effort to do what we can to get out of this pessimistic hole! This may mean we need to focus on something good (look outside of the hole to things that make you happy. Things in your life you are proud of or thankful for.)I find myself in a panic when I think about the future. I can't predict the future, nor will I ever be able to so this energy is wasted! I am teaching myself to take life day by day and focus on the now, which is making me understand that I am truly happy. My boyfriend told me that happiness is a decision, and I completely agree with that. This means that we can learn to be content in all circumstances. We will always go through tough times, ups and downs, in life, but why do we have to base our ultimate happiness on circumstances? I dont want to live that way anymore. I have my freedom, my faith, my family, my friends, my boyfriend, a roof over my head and food in my belly. From this point on, I refuse to let a bad mark, bad hair day, low finances, or uncertainty of the future decide my happiness! I am happy, I am healthy and I am deciding to make the most out of life and hopefully inspire others along the way. If you become stronger, who knows who you may be helping to hold up.


Friday, March 11, 2011

If we worry, we don't trust; if we trust, we don't worry. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its grief, but it does empty today of its joy.

TRUST. I feel like this is a topic I have had an argument with before. I have never had difficulty trusting someone, but I have had problems with whether or not my trust in certain people are safe. Personal safety is a high motivation for all of us. We dont want to be taken for granted, hurt or betrayed by people we love. We want to believe the best in people and talk these positive feelings into motion. What if we said we trusted someone we love, we believed it, but then we were wrong. What if that person turned around and hurt us more than we could handle. What happens then? We are all human, we all make mistakes and I truly believe that it is not the circumstance or the situation that determines who we are, but it is how we respond to the problem that reflects our character. Therefore, my work begins. Can I, or should I, trust this person with my heart, my life and my happiness. Well, the answer is clearly that you should NEVER determine your happiness upon others. I have my family, my friends, my home, my education, my health and most importantly, all of this I have because of my God. My happiness should not come from stuff or people, but instead should be reflected in love onto people. Trust should be a response of the heart towards others. It is a gift you offer to others. Trust is not a glass ball that, once dropped, can never be restored like we normally treat it as. Trust is a gift that we give to one another every day and becomes tested in situations. I believe that some people need love more than trust from others, this is to say I can respond to someone with love while keeping a distance from dangerous territory. This is really something you need to make a personal judgement on and will be different for everyone (which means you cant make a decision based on outside views. Listen to your friends and family, but make sure in the end it is your heart that is leading your life, not others). Therefore, we can approach this situation from a different angle. If someone hurts you, betrays you, how can you forgive and respond in love?
Well, first off, you need to make a decision on character.
See how this person has dealt with the situation. If they are trying to make it better, working on their mistake, doing their best not to get themselves into that position again, promises you they will do everything they can to show you the truth (love and appreciation for you), then your work will kick in and you need to take a leap of faith and trust. May be one of the hardest things you can but here is where I am coming from: we all need forgiveness. We all make mistakes. None of us are worthy of forgiveness. We are all human, this is just how it goes. THEREFORE, if we make an effort to respond in love, we can build upwards. God has amazing ways of turning bad situations around and using them for good BUT we have a choice in this. We can either abandon the relationship/friendship due to the pain (which in some cases may be appropriate if your emotional wellness is in danger due to this person), OR we can be conscious of all the facts, look this person in the eye, forgive and make the first decision to move forward. What I have learned in the past is holding grudges, or avoiding providing forgiveness to others, is an imprisonment to the self. You constantly are thinking of how this person/people hurt you, why did this happen, what could I have done differently, how could I have been so stupid to believe them, how can I avoid this in the future, etc. This response to the situation is VERY SELF DISTRUCTING. Ive been there with friends. These people I decided I needed to move on from, this was a personal decision and a right decision at that. The moment I offered up forgiveness, i was released from the imprisonment of my past and these questions which were affecting my relationships/friendships in the present. Forgiveness is a gift, we all have it, and to withhold it is to only hurt ourselves and the ones that crave it.
This develops another question: What does forgiveness look like? Forgiveness is a personal decision. It can be implemented without the person you are forgiving being in front of you. It is a decision to not let the situation or wrong act deteremine who that person is. One time, its a mistake, twice may be a reflection of character. Be careful with this, still remain smart in where your trust is laying. Forgiveness should be provided in EVERY situation (whether we want to or not, it releases us) but trust is more difficult and comes after forgiveness. Listen to your heart, not external information. For this person who hurt you to ask for forgiveness, to me, is enough. This desire comes from the heart and says "I am sorry. I respect you. I want to fix this, but i need your help". It is hard to accept but when you are in a friendship/relationship, it is not individual. That other person has a hold on a good part of you. If something bad happens on their part, you have to step in and help to heal the relationship together. Now this does not mean that you should do everything you can to save the relationship if the other person is not working toward the same goal, that is something again you have to make a personal judgment on. It may be a maturity thing, or it may be a time thing. Possibly taking time away from a friendship or relationship allows priorities and the head to clear. I am going to end with a very important quote that may help in these situations to help us make a decision on whether our forgiveness should be followed by working towards getting back on track, or followed by walking away from the friendship/relationship. "Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction."
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

There is freedom in forgiveness. If you take your thoughts captive to truth and really look at the persons heart and the context, not just the wronging act, you will be amazed at how forgivness can build both of you up, and not let the situation tear you down. You have a choice to either respond in love, or become a prisoner to your own pity. I dont have all the answers, I am trying to figure things out for myself, but I do know that forgiveness is one of the most amazing gifts of love we could provide for one another and everyone can use more forgiveness. Trust follows that, a bit more complicated, but is definitely something that has to be worked on together.