We are happy to announce our new 3 week Mental Detox series. This week we are discussing forgiveness.
Week 1: Be Forgiving
Week 2: Be Present
Week 3: Be Connected
To forgive is to set a prisoner free! No one wants to be a prisoner. The reality is that many of us are living our lives just like a prisoner serving a life sentence. We are trapped in the past, dwelling on the mistakes we have made, or the abuse others have done to us.
Do you recall the mental movie you have played over and over in your head? It only makes you feel bad, yet you just don’t seem to be able stop it. So why do we torture ourselves like this? How do we set ourselves free once and for all?
Ready for the answer? Forgiveness.
People have told me that they can’t forgive because somehow it makes what happened to them acceptable. Forgiveness does not mean what happened to you was ok, nor to forget about it. Indeed, not only do you remember what happened, you also have the courage to process the feelings and body sensations that are associated with it. As a result of that, you are no longer a victim who is bonded with the perpetrator. “When you forgive, you in no way change the past, but you sure do change the future.”**
For those of you who can’t stop beating yourself up for your mistakes, practicing forgiveness will serve you as a reset button, and allow you to learn a lesson from them! Everyone makes mistakes, big and small. Yet ALL of us deserve to be forgiven, including yourself! The beauty of being human beings is that we have unlimited ability to improve ourselves! Without forgiveness, we will continue to get stuck at square one.
When you choose not to forgive, the anger and resentment becomes like a venom, circulating in your body, day in and day out eating you up. Eventually you will get very sick physically, mentally or spiritually. Forgiveness is the first step for your mental detox.
For me, the most difficult thing to forgive was the sexual abuse that happened when I was a little girl. It took me many years to finally admit and process what had happened. I chose to forgive my perpetrators, not for them, but for me. What I realized is that forgiveness in fact comes with an amazing sense of inner peace.
Do you want to live a life that is light and free? Forgiveness is the key. “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was me!” **
** “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you!” ~ Lewis B Smedes
** “When you forgive, you in no way change the past, but you sure do change the future.” ~ Bernard Meltzer
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“My name is Wen, I am a recovering Worryholic!” I used to be a 24/7 worrier. If I had nothing to worry about, I would invent something to worry about. If you can relate to me, this blog is for you!
In 1992, I got my first job in America working in a group home in Whitmore Lake, Michigan. One day, at about 2am, I was asked to go to the market to get $300 worth of groceries. After I reviewed the grocery list, I started to have a panic attack. Sitting alone in a huge empty van, my palms were sweaty, my heart was pounding and my knees were shaky. I had no clue what “Q-tips”, “Jell-O” and “Kleenex” were. I looked them up in my Chinese-English dictionary. Nothing showed up. All I remember was that horrible sinking feeling in my stomach, “I am going to be fired…” “I won’t be able to pay my rent, my gas, and my food…” “I will be homeless…”
After 15 minutes of panicking, I decided to face my fear. I turned on the engine and took off. As I arrived at the grocery store, I was greeted by three very friendly staff. I let them know that I was a foreign student, and I had no clue what the things on the grocery list were. The staff was extremely helpful and within 20 minutes they brought me three full carts of groceries. They even loaded the things into the van for me. Mission completed without fail. This experience taught me to put my worry aside, focus on what IS under my control, and let the Universe take care of the rest.
The law of attraction means that whatever we focus on, we attract more of it into our lives. The more worrying we do, the more fear we will experience. If success means more love and abundance, failure means more fear and losses, and who in the world wants to fail and attract more fear into their lives?
We are creatures of habit. Unfortunately, many of us have developed a very bad habit called worrying. A lot of times, we zoom in and worry about things that have not even happened. We are paralyzed by worrying. It eventually becomes anxiety, depression and all kinds of addictive behaviors.
Here is an example: As I was driving on a highway, I saw a car broke down on the side of the road. I immediately started to think, “what if my car breaks down...bla, bla, bla…” Instead of living in the present and doing something about the funky noise my car was making, I was consumed by my worry that my car would break down. Sure enough, in just a couple of days, my car broke down! What happened was a picture of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Worrying is a waste of time and energy. The question is, how do we turn off the WORRY switch? When you are worrying, you are trying to control what is going to happen in the future. Since the future is not here, how can you control something that does not exist? If every second that you got stuck in the future box, it cost you $1,000 how much money could you afford to lose? In reality, your life is more valuable than $1,000 a second. No amount of money can buy the time you have lost worrying.
As a human being, you are wired to win! You can manifest anything you want in your life. All you need to do is to turn off the WORRY switch! The definition of Zen is: “There is no reality outside of here and now.” When you decide NOT to live in the future box, you are turning off the WORRY switch! When that happens, you open up a world of possibilities. You are creating an opportunity to live a life that is full of love, peace and joy!
“You have wings. Learn to use them and fly!” ~ Rumi
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Let go! It’s easier said than done, we all know that.
On my way home today, while driving by the intersection of two main streets, I saw someone abruptly pull her car in front of another driver. Instead of letting it go, the other driver was screaming at the top of his lungs, cussing at her with foul language and gestures. To protest this injustice, he intentionally parked his car at 120 degrees occupying two lanes at the traffic light.
Our default is automatically set for reaction. Most of time it is compulsive reaction vs calm response. The consequence of not being able to let go is to continue to be trapped in endless pain and suffering.
Letting go is the only way for us to march forward! In other words, letting go is the spirit of surrender.
A lot of people have difficulty understanding what “Surrender” really means! I will use a story about the boxing champion Muhammad Ali to illustrate what surrender really means.
Ali invented a very famous technique called “Rope-a-dope”. In the beginning of the fight, he would cover his head up in a defensive position and let his opponent punch him over and over. He would stay very close to the rope, and then bounce back from the rope, once his opponent punched him for a while and used up his energy, then Ali would wait until just the right moment, and give his opponent “Bang” a big punch in his face!
This is the power of surrender, winning by letting go! Does surrender mean to “Turn a blind eye to it?" No! Does surrender mean to “Wave the little white flag and admit that I am defeated?” No!
Surrender means to temporarily let go of the current situation, focus on the right timing and take action that is 100% under your control! For example, maybe you don’t like the fact that your job sucks. Instead of complaining about it, you continue to show up for work, tolerate the current situation, be the best employee you can be. Meanwhile you are taking action and applying other jobs that are better suited for you! You are creating a win-win situation!
This is why practicing “Surrender” is the quickest way to get to wherever you want to be! You will never be stuck or become a victim of your current situation!
Be like Ali, my friend! You can let go and march forward, because YOU are the champion!
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From EMDR to meditation, I did so much and was able to finally let go of many things that not only haunted me, but kept me in a prison which was only constructed by me. When anxiety attacks happened, I had an array of techniques you (Wen Chi) taught me to use which helped tremendously!" ~Trevor S.~
What is DBT?
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a therapy designed to help people change patterns of behavior that are not helpful, such as self-harm, suicidal thinking, and substance abuse. This approach works towards helping people increase their emotional and cognitive regulation by learning about the triggers that lead to reactive states and helping to assess which coping skills to apply in the sequence of events, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to help avoid undesired reactions. DBT assumes that people are doing the best they can but are either lacking the skills or are influenced by positive or negative reinforcement that interferes with their ability to function appropriately.
DBT combines standard cognitive behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice.*
Who can benefit from DBT?
Although DBT was originally created for individuals with borderline-personality disorder, it has significantly evolved, proving valuable for a much wider range of people struggling with a variety of mental health and relationship concerns. DBT is often used with individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety, codependency, and alcohol/drug abuse, to name a few.
If you are still unsure if you could benefit from DBT, perhaps ask yourself this question – Do I have behaviors or ways of thinking that are potentially becoming harmful to my wellbeing?
If you answered yes, or even maybe, then incorporating DBT skills could absolutely be a great approach to providing some relief. Essentially, if you want to improve your quality of life and connections with others, you are a good fit for DBT group!
What will I learn about in DBT group at Zen Institute?
Learning DBT is like learning a new language. Yet, Zen Institute has created a DBT group that is focused on simplicity and effectiveness. The groups are small, to promote safety, trust, and open discussion. Participants are taught one skill at a time. Each skill is coordinated with a worksheet to reinforce the material. Participants are encouraged to share life experiences and learn from each other.
The group is divided into the four major modules of DBT:
Mindfulness will challenge you to accept negative thoughts, feelings, or situations as they are, rather than concentrating on how you might want them to be. Mindfulness is a great tool to help you stay in the present and be non-judgmental toward yourself and others.
2. Emotion Regulation
Emotion regulation will help you identify and understand the functions of your emotions, and provide you with tools to process overwhelming emotions and channel them into positive action.
3. Distress Tolerance
Distress tolerance provides you with tools for self soothing and coping with crisis situations in a positive way.
4. Interpersonal Effectiveness
The interpersonal effectiveness module will teach you how to get what you want in your relationships. You will learn to speak up your truth, set healthy boundaries, and create loving relationships.
DBT is a unique style of group therapy. The tools learned in DBT group can serve you for a lifetime.
This post was contributed by:
Jenna Jarrold, MS, LAC, NCC
Staff Therapist, Zen Institute
*Source: Wikipedia contributors. "Dialectical behavior therapy." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 May. 2015. Web. 18 Jun. 2015.
Wen Chi Chien, M.A. LPC