What’s Holding You Back From Moving Forward?

Imagine being out in the wilderness on a beautiful spring day.  There is a stream flowing downhill filled with colorful fish, rocks and leaves.  The birds are singing and you can feel the sun shining on your face.  Ahhhhh!  You start to walk along the stream and follow a school of fish swimming by.  Up ahead, you notice some bark from a tree is blocking part of the stream.  Leaves and rocks are starting to form a barrier making it very difficult for the fish to pass through.  It seems as though there is not enough room for the fish to move forward and break on through to the other side.  Because of this “perceived” illusion, the fish start to give up.  Now what? (Can you relate?)

As a life coach, one of the common topics clients want to focus on is moving forward in their lives when something is holding them back.  Their goals, dreams and ideas are like the rocks and leaves in the stream.  The stream represents the flow of life events and experiences.  The tree bark  and leaves are the fears, mental blocks and false beliefs that appear to hold them back from moving forward.  With coaching, I help clients become aware of all the paths in the stream of their minds they might not have seen.  We discover ways to put a plan of actions in place to take action, grow and change.

What’s holding you back from moving forward?  Now is the perfect time to dive into the stream of change.

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If you need a motivating push towards overcoming your fears and creating positive changes in your life, schedule your free intro coaching call at freelifecoachingcall@jenniferbridge.com today!  To learn more, visit  http://www.readytochangelifecoaching.com

Overcoming the Fear

Life is full of ups and downs. With each experience we learn and grow. It is easy to play the victim and stay stuck in a situation. I used to be the “eternal victim” until I realized that I was responsible for my own actions. My mindset used to be “bad things always happen to me.” I was so stuck in this way of thinking.  I could not see that my choices led to situations that brought me pain. Once I learned how to step back and take the higher road, things changed. The blinders were removed and I saw things in a new way.  It took a lot of work, but I changed. And now, I help others discover who they are and change for the better.

All of us are here for a reason.  Some know what that reason is and others haven’t found it yet.  We all have dreams and goals, but many people not in touch with them.  Fear can keep us stuck in the same routine and environment for months and even years.  Where does that voice of fear come from?  For some it stems from lack of self-love, worth or esteem.  For others it is a voice of an abusive parent or parental figure from our childhood.  Giving power to that voice of fear can make it feel next to impossible to move forward.  It holds us back from finding our purpose, following our dreams and reaching our goals.  Some of us feel so trapped in those fearful thoughts that we stay in the same relationship, job, living situation and surround ourselves with the same friends. It can turn into an endless cycle.  But somehow it “seems” safe or comfortable.

The reality is that all of us can overcome the fear.  We all have an inner-strength.  We can let go of the fear and change.  It is just a matter of discovering what works for you.  One way is through life coaching.  A professional life coach can work with you on ways to move beyond the fear.  And in turn,  you will be able to create a plan of action to get from where you are to where you want to be.  “The possibilities are endless with how far you can go!”

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          To learn more about ways to overcome fear and creating positive changes in your life,
         contact Life Coach Jennifer Bridge, ACC for a free intro phone appointment at
         freelifecoachingcall@jenniferbridge.com or visit http://www.jenniferbridge.com

Forgiveness

This article was written by Life Coach Jennifer Bridge

forgiveness

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you.” ~Lewis Smedes

At some point in our lives, we all get hurt emotionally.  Until we forgive and get to the other side, it is nearly impossible to see the hold that it had on us.  Whether it is a friend acting disloyal, a significant other cheating, an employer laying us off or some other painful situation, life happens.  When we hold on to these experiences and become resentful, angry and re-feel the hurt and pain, we suffer even more.  It is easy to get caught in this vicious cycle of negativity.  For some people, it is easy to forgive.  For others, it takes a lot of work and time.  And some people never allow themselves to get to a place where they are able to forgive.

I think of forgiveness as an internal action that allows us to release negative emotions and reconnect to our spirit. Holding on to those painful parts of our past keep us from moving forward.  We get stuck in those overwhelming feelings.  We shut down and put up an emotional wall for protection.  But in reality, we shut out love and new opportunities to grow.

It is important to clarify what forgiveness is not as well.  Forgiveness is not forgetting.  As time goes by, it gets easier to ignore what happened and not think about it, but it is still there.  Forgiveness is the only way to free yourself and move on.

Forgiveness is not making excuses for what happened.  “They didn’t really mean to do it” or “They didn’t know better” are examples of some excuses you might tell yourself.  This mindset does not allow you to acknowledge the hurt and see it for what it really is and in turn, let it go.

Forgiveness is not justice or revenge.  Paybacks or getting even will not help you heal.  Hurting the person that hurt you might temporarily feel better, but it will ultimately bring you more pain. Forgiveness is a moral response to another person’s injustice.  It’s an inside job.

Forgiveness has the word “give” in it.  We give a gift to ourselves when we forgive others.  We give ourselves the freedom to move on and break the cycle of hurt we have been caught in.  We give ourselves a new perspective on life.  The darkness fades away and the world looks a little brighter through forgiving eyes.

Detour to Personal Freedom – Get Unstuck

At times, we all get stuck driving up and down the same path of thoughts in our mind. This can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, numbness and sadness.  Some of us stay stuck in this traffic of the mind way too long.  Whether it’s the freeway of fear, the side street of self pity, the road of relationships or an alternate route, we become trapped. How do we find the detour to break free? Freedom comes from awareness, letting go and moving forward.

The first step towards personal freedom and getting unstuck is to gain a true awareness.  Is there an area of your life that you feel stuck in?  Take some time to really think about it. Some examples are feeling stuck in a dead-end job, relationship, financial debt, unhealthy habits, resentment, the past and fear.  It might be difficult to step back and become aware of it right away.  Especially if you have gotten used to the repetitive cycle of unhealthy thought, feelings and patterns.

Once you become aware of what is keeping you stuck, you can begin the process of letting go of the illusion.  The reality is that staying stuck is a choice.  It might feel like there are no other options or ways to break free, but there are.  Let go of the false beliefs and fear. It is time to take a detour to a new path of thoughts in your mind.  Change your outlook and you will see endless roads of possibilities.

Letting go can lead to a shift in the way you feel about what kept you stuck.  That is the freedom that can be found from letting go.  Embrace it.  Now you’re ready to move forward.  The mind traffic is no longer there. Nothing is holding you back.  You are free and can move forward on whatever path you chose to take. Stay aware and you are less likely to get stuck in any mind traffic.  You have discovered the detour to personal freedom and are moving forward.

 

This article was written by Life Coach Jennifer Bridge.

7 Steps to Forgiveness

by Mark Linden O Meara

Much has been written about forgiveness. Everywhere you turn people are saying you have to forgive, yet few people likely understand the process of true forgiving. For true healing, forgiveness is essential. The same holds true for the idea of compassion. Yet I have learned that going from anger straight to compassion does not bring about true forgiveness. It only creates a sense of pseudo forgiveness. Many people try to go from hurt or anger straight to compassion.  It most often fails unless they fully understand the deeper process. In most cases the shortcut backfires or they have only repressed their anger. While you maintain an air of forgiveness, you may find yourself easily triggered when speaking of the original event, or you find yourself reacting emotionally when the issue is raised. I have found that the following steps bring about lasting forgiveness when implemented and practiced on a daily basis. I’ve had many things to forgive, so I’ve had practice. I’ve noticed that it is easy to fall back into a trap of non-forgiveness and resentment unless you make it a daily habit to forgive. Why forgive? You forgive so that you can stop harming yourself through resentment and begin to move into a state of happiness and gratitude.

Stage 1- Admit You Are Angry!  Many of us will echo the thoughts “What? I’m not supposed to get angry! I’ve done all this healing work!” I’ve learned that it is harmful to get angry but it is more harmful to be angry and not admit it! The way to check if you are angry is to observe your inner dialogue about how you are relating to yourself and others. Are you finding yourself being negative, critical or frustrated? Do you find yourself being impatient with people and critical of how things are done? Are you constantly blaming others for your troubles, wishing that others would change? If so, then it is likely you are angry. Try to recognize what you are angry about. It may not be the little things, but something that happened months ago. Look back in time to what might have triggered your anger and where your expression has been blocked. Bitterness is anger with no outlet to be heard or feeling that you can not change anything. It is a form of helplessness. Try to discover what you are bitter about. Make a list of resentments. Don’t hold back or edit your thoughts. Being honest with yourself is the first step in healing anger.

Stage 2- Acknowledge the Loss and Consequences  In order to fully forgive, you need to look at the consequences of the event. By consequences, I do not mean just emotional pain. Look at the past and the present, and honestly note any changes. Were you physically injured? Were you emotionally hurt? Did you suffer financial loss? What other types of losses occurred? Was there harm to other relationships? To achieve lasting forgiveness it is important to acknowledge all the losses, otherwise forgiveness will have to be revisited. When listing the losses and consequences, try to look objectively at the incident without investing in the emotions around the losses at this time.

Stage 3 – Submit to a Feeling of Vulnerability The next stage in forgiveness is to open your self up to change and dissonance. You can not spread butter when it is hard and cold. Forgiveness does not come easily when your ideas, thoughts of revenge or justice are hardened. You must retreat and re-examine your approach. Just like a pound of butter, if you want to forgive and heal, you need to let your ideas thaw and be molded into a new perspective, combined with other ideas and views. You need to admit that to harbor anger and resentments violates the laws of kindness and compassion both for yourself and other people. You must realize that in not forgiving, you are now betraying the person at whom you are angry. This is not an easy step. It can be painful to realize that it is you who needs to change, and that it is you who has the poison of anger and resentment. It is easy to build up a wall of justification around your thoughts, actions and feelings regarding the harm done to you. In order to heal and forgive, you need to break through the wall and tear it down completely!  This stage of forgiveness also requires you look at whether there was any responsibility on your part. In some cases there was none, in some cases, you may have taken action which contributed to the decision. In this case, it may be hard for you to admit that you caused part of your own suffering as it is easier to blame others than to take any responsibility. This stage requires an honest, fearless, kind and moral inventory of your own actions and behavior. Sometimes you may not like what you find, but facing your shadow can be one of the most powerful healing experiences. See if you can find some common ground.

Stage 4 – Stop Punishing One of the common behaviors of people is to try to punish those who have harmed us. Most studies have shown that punishment rarely teaches anything other than to resent the person doing the punishing! Some of the ways you may punish are by withholding companionship, giving someone the silent treatment, or even giving compliments but then taking it back with an insult. You may try to go further with legal action, or you may try to damage things that the other person prizes. Another method of punishment is gossiping about the other person. In order to truly forgive, you need to give up the expectation that the other person will be punished. You can ask that the other person make amends for their harm, but if they refuse or are unable to make amends, then releasing them from the idea of punishment frees you from lingering resentment.  There is great wisdom in the following Buddhist teaching – “Should one person ignorantly do wrong, and another ignorantly becomes angry with him, who would be at fault? And who would be without fault?” It is far better to try to forgive, and reintegrate your friends back into community than to ostracize and alienate them through punishment. Try to practice compassion, work at developing a deeper understanding of how and why people behave. It seems that we prefer a simple explanation of things, yet you need to understand that human beings and the relationships between each other are complex. Understanding the ways of the world and the people in the world requires wisdom and self control. Use the opportunity to forgive as a means of growth!

Stage 5 – Identify Some Good in the Other Person This step, finding some good in the other person is probably the most crucial step in bringing about lasting forgiveness. It can also be the hardest depending on the severity of the event you are trying to forgive.  According to Francis Bacon, the key to forgiveness is in “not expecting the other to change, to give love, to be kind and develop the ability to see that in everyone else’s eyes and heart there is some good.” In forgiving, you try not to think of yourself as being good and the other person bad. You can find it easier to forgive if you can understand that the other person has difficulties too, or was harmed in the past. If you do not practice this step, then forgiveness will be futile because it will be done with a sense of contempt for the other person. If you can not find good in the other person, then at least pray for them. A wonderful technique for developing your vision of good in another is to imagine a seed of goodness in their heart, and in prayer imagine that both you and God are watering it to make it grow stronger. Better yet is to image that each person already has this great flower of goodness in them already. Admit that it has been obscured from your view because of your anger, resentment and justifications. Learn to look for the good. At first, like developing any skill, it is challenging. You will become better at it with practice!

Stage 6 – Develop Genuine Neutrality  Hopefully in the process of forgiveness you will come to resolve any negative emotions and thoughts about yourself and the other person or organization. To do so requires that you do not expect or demand any payment or restitution after forgiveness. You must assume that there is no debt owed to you. Mother Theresa once said “it is between God and myself, it was never between me and them anyway.” This must be practiced daily. It is easy to slip into anger and resentment if you do not cultivate a practice of neutrality. Depending on the severity of the event, you may choose to not have any further contact with the person, but if you meet them by chance, you want to have a sense of neutrality and a sense of calmness instead of avoidance.

Stage 7 – Stay in the Present “Bury the hatchet” is a phrase you may have heard many times. There is wisdom to this phrase if you understand its original meaning. The phrase comes from spiritual traditions of North American Indians who would put all weapons out of site while smoking a peace pipe. For your own forgiveness work, you must keep the original wound out of sight, or out of present mind. It is necessary to acknowledge what happened, to not forget it, but also not drag it up again as a fresh wound. Resurrecting the event and bringing it up again with the person who harmed you will cause you to feel the associated feelings again. Balance your memory of the event with your memory of the forgiveness work you have done. Practice loving those you don’t feel warmth towards.  All of your forgiveness work can be undone, and the resentment rekindled if you begin to dwell on the event again. If you begin to rerun your mind’s movie of the harm, then you may find yourself in an angry and hurt state again. It is the nature of your mind to ruminate, and therefore you must develop self-discipline and remind yourself that you have completed forgiveness work around this issue. Thank your mind for the intrusive thought, and send it off into the far reaches of the universe! Refuse to bring the past into the present again, as it will re-trigger you back into hurt and anger. Continually rise above the injury! Practice compassion and unconditional love towards all people!

Back to School: Discover, Learn and Grow

Every other advertisement on the TV, radio, internet and more seems to be promoting all of the back to school items.  The media bombardment has begun! It has been years since I graduated from college.  Yet I can still remember switching my mental gears from “summer” to “back to school.”  It was a time to prepare, organize and focus for the new school year ahead.  There were new classes to experience, new people to meet and new opportunities to discover, learn and grow from.   Those of us that are done with the back to school days can use this time to reflect upon the things that we need and want to go back to.  Wondering what I mean? Below are some examples:

Back to Goals: How are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? Remember those? One of my resolutions was to get back into an exercise routine.  So like the rest of America, I went back to the gym once the new year hit.  It was going great for a couple months. Then it stopped.   Hmmmm…As I write this, I am committing to myself to go back to my goal of exercising on a regular basis. I will make it a reality starting this week!  What goals would you like to get back to?

Back to Dreams: Anything is possible.  We all had childhood dreams of what we wanted to be and where we wanted to go in life. What were some of your dreams?  Have you followed any of them? When I was younger, I dreamed about being able to fly and have superhero powers.  A couple years ago, I went skydiving.  It was amazing! I’m still working on the superhero powers and will keep you posted. My point is that it is never too late to make some of those dreams come true.

Back to your Authentic Self: Do you look in the mirror and not recognize the person you have become?  Is your true self hidden behind layers, walls and masks you have used over the years to fit in and feel accepted?  Now might be a good time to go back to your true authentic self.

All of these thoughts started from the back to school commercials.  I wonder what will happen when the Thanksgiving commercials start (wink, wink.)

Surrender

Don’t be attached to the outcome.
Continue with your efforts, and know that they are the right things for you to do at the moment, but surrender any attachment you have as to the outcome.
It’s the attachment to outcome, to things being a certain way, that brings us pain.
Peace comes with letting go, surrendering and acceptance.
It also makes us more open to learning from our experience, instead of resisting it.
~Michele J. Johnson