I was one of the youngest UK body shop managers in the automotive industry and I had to tell my boss that I thought someone was doing something that was illegal. It is hard enough as a young woman to have a strong voice, it’s even harder in a hostile environment of men who hadn’t yet learnt that the 90’s would be coming to an end and you weren’t going to be allowed to speak to your colleagues like that anymore. I tolerated it all. I gave as tough as I got, but on the inside, I wasn’t a strong Amazonian warrior I was Mandie Holgate, and I was scared to even tell some of the staff what car needed working on next, how exactly would I broach the subject that I had evidence that something illegal was going on?
I did find some inner strength and I think that is probably when insomnia started in my life. To cut a long painful, stressful, devasting story short. What I’d discovered was true and it took a torturous, sad, tough court case to conclude the situation. And on the night the case was closed I sat on my bed and sobbed. Not the sob of someone that is sad, or upset, but the sob that is uncontrollable, where snot and tears wet the duvet, and you wonder how you will ever go on. Life had been so irretrievably changed and you wish you’d not know what was coming in the future because you would have run away and never come back.
I remember that going to work after that felt like something was missing and not just that person. The aftershock of that incident lasted a long time and I wasn’t alone in feeling like we couldn’t get back what we had. And I felt so…..what? What did I feel? I felt angry, sad, frustrated, offended, livid, emotional and none of the emotions were good.
Back then I’d only just started to explore the way our minds work and so I didn’t know the powerful stuff I do now, however I realised while it was one of the hardest professional lessons I ever learnt it was also the start of my passion for understanding the impact of what we think of our lives, results and happiness.
Here are the top tips that I can now appreciate I started to use all those years ago (the difference is now I have thousands of clients and readers that verify this stuff works*) So if you find yourself consumed with negative emotions because of something someone has done to you. Here are some ideas for you;
Forgiveness is not about them it is about you. We feel the need to forgive when there are emotions that are left running around in our head banging into everything and making an emotional mess out of our heads. Think of the way you feel about that person and it will be hard to come up with a good emotion or feeling. That is because forgiveness has to start with ourselves before we bring anyone else into the process. None of us are perfect and we all have to learn to accept our failings and shortcomings. Some need to be fixed, curbed or controlled and others are just part of what makes you, you, learn to accept you. Maybe you didn’t get everything right but you did your best. Accept and love who you are first.
Stop thinking. This is the hardest thing for so many of us. Not just in the moment of forgiveness, however when we stop processing the thoughts we are having and I don’t mean working something through so you can take action, I mean when something crops into your head for weeks, even months or years and you let it that is when you need to learn to stop thinking. There is a process I use with clients that I’d like to share with you;
1. Become more aware of the thoughts that you are having around this situation. Don’t try to alter them, get rid of them or change them. Just become aware of them. How often are they there? Is there a pattern to when you think about it? Etc etc.
2. Make the thought stop. Don’t berate yourself for letting it arrive in your head, just say something like “I hear this thought and I choose to stop the thought.” Ideally, practice this for at least 7 days before you move forward to step 3.
3. Ultimately the plan is to get you to think something positive automatically instead of letting the negative creep in, so step 3 is where you want to practice choosing to think something different when the thought arrives. For a while it will feel false and unreal, however, the more practice you give this the more chance you have of being able to automatically create new positive thoughts. There is an additional step you can add here if you struggle and that is when you spot the negative thought and struggle to think something more beneficial imagine one thing every time. The same thing, but make it funny or relaxing. Ie Imagine the second that thought arrives so does a large fish that starts flipping and flopping across the table or imagine your favourite spot, maybe a lake where you are effortlessly kayaking across the water with the distant sound of wildlife as your only company. This step in the process will need to be very personal to you, so think of something that makes you laugh or relaxed instantly. (And it’s confidential so you can think of anything!)
Understand why you need to stop thinking. Another way to help you with the top tip above is to play with the negative spiral that is out of control in your head and causing actions and results you don’t want. We all have automatic negative spirals and the good news is that by understanding your own version you are able to choose at any point to change your thoughts so that you can change your actions. Take the negative spiral above. Instead of feeling nervous to see them you could visualise that you smile and walk on thinking of something that makes you happy as you go. Instead of feeling angry and upset you could choose to see that we have different opinions, ideals, beliefs, values and experiences that led to that moment and so I accept who I am and I accept who you are. “There are 7 billion people on this planet, I can’t get on with them all!” could be your thought. By understanding and feeling the pain that the negative circle creates we can build a new way of thinking that is driven by passion and determination to make it work because we don’t want to revert to the old ways that got us the old results. Personally I know that if I allow a negative spiral to play out, then I will experience stress, and if I experience stress that can impact on my health, and I’m not prepared to bring pain to my life. Do you ever notice you feel poorly, run down or unwell when you over think a time where forgiveness should have been practised? It could become your driving factor!
You don’t know what they are thinking. With the greatest will in the world, you may know someone’s usual choice of phrases and actions but you don’t know what they are actually thinking or going to do next. Live your own life. Another reason that we can’t forgive someone is because in our heads we think they are plotting against us. We think their every thought is consumed with us. It is highly likely it is not as everyone is mega busy with a ton of things, thoughts, needs and desires. A great lady once said to me “Mandie you have no rights to what is going on in someone else’s head.” That one phrase has saved me so much stress. And I’ve learnt to appreciate that it also helps dull a lot of fears; the fear of what people are thinking, the fear of public speaking, the fear of picking up the phone, the fear of taking time out are just 4 examples where not stressing about what other people are thinking has been helped reduce fear just from that lady’s statement.
It’s like holding the wrong end of a knife. When we can’t forgive it is like holding on to the wrong end of the knife. We are scared to let go of it for fear it will fall and cause more damage as it drops, but because we won’t let go of it we are stuck with pain that it feels we will never get rid of. We have to create enough emotion and need around finding a way past to forgiveness. Even if you feel it is impossible to forgive by not letting go you are choosing to agree to more pain. Remember every human has their own perception of reality created by their lifes; their experiences, their values, their beliefs and their goals. No two people on this planet are identical in that respect. And while that is beautiful it also means there are some people we will never understand. No one is supposed to understand everyone, however by letting go you are able to get on with your own life and leave them to get on with theirs, we all deserve love, respect, kindness and happiness, and sometimes that will come by accepting we just don’t get on and I wish you a happy life as you choose a different path.
Don’t hold onto that knife of hurt any longer, choose to forgive, and/or move on and get back to your own life. Just think how amazing your positive circle could look if you choose to let go?
*Fight the fear – how to beat your negative and win in life is my internationally endorsed book now available in Russian, Czech, Turkish, English and Arabic all about the top 12 fears that impact on our happiness and success.