Listening to a Heart Speak

Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with thousands of young adults and teens, serving in the capacity of an advisor, a counselor, and a mentor. One of the skills I learned very early on was to listen with more than just my ears. You may be thinking, “Um, aren’t ears necessary for listening to a person?” True as that may be, there is something more that we as human beings are blessed to be able to hear and listen with: our hearts.

As a counselor and advisor, I was trained to look for body language as it coincided with a person’s words. Growing that skill served me well as I counseled teens or college-aged young adults who were dealing with feelings of low self-worth, or identity crisis. As a mentor, that skill translated into even better understanding of those I trained in the field of advocacy and showing them how to look for actions that matched words. However, as a friend, family member, and parent, I learned from those I helped in my personal life how to listen with my heart.

The other day, I had a conversation with a young woman whom I had befriended three years ago. She is a young woman with a physical disability who has overcome a tremendous amount of obstacles in her brief 30 years of life. She is someone I admire for her resilience, perseverance, and strength. She truly is someone with the will and determination to survive and to thrive. Currently, she is a college student who is completing her last two classes in Human Development and Education, and I know her personal experiences and education will serve her well.

She and I were having what I considered a relatively light conversation when the topic of the relationships and the future of her family (i.e., her parents, siblings, and niece). My friend, Leanne*, has learned how to be mostly independent and function without little or no assistance from anyone. The rare occasion when she does need assistance she has become comfortable with explaining her condition and what she needs help in doing at that moment and time.

In our conversation, she mentioned an annual event that she would be attending with her family in Las Vegas, Nevada. Leanne mentioned that the last time she went to this annual music event with her brothers, she needed some assistance with getting ready for a night out. My friend had asked a relative who had come with them last year if she could help her get ready. Her brothers, although older than her, have never had to care for their sister physically and found it difficult to understand why Leanne needed to ask for help. They were embarrassed, but later felt remorseful for their reaction when they saw the level of and type of assistance Leanne was asking for from their relative.

In our conversation about this memory, Leanne explained that she worried that her siblings would never understand what it meant to have to take care of a child with disabilities. I tried to make sense of the comment and it didn’t hit me until the subject of her niece came up. Leanne’s niece is 2 years old, going on 3 years old very soon. Zaira*, Leanne’s niece, is non-verbal in communication, but has learned to communicate with her mother and all other adults through sign language. Leanne’s sister is a young single mom who is working hard to support her daughter. Other than Leanne, there has never been another relative or sibling with a disability. While Leanne did not mention her concerns over her niece’s inability to speak and her sister’s lack of experience in caring for a disabled child, Leanne’s heart was asking for advice, and possibly intervention.

Our conversation ended with me giving her several pieces of advice on how to begin working with Zaira, as well as an offer to mediate between Leanne, her parents, and her family. While I may not be an expert on disabilities, I am an experienced mediator and counselor when it comes to families in crisis. If I had not learned how to listen with my heart, I would have missed the things Leanne was not saying with her mouth. My friend had allowed me to see a piece of her heart and let me in to a private place so that I could help her somehow.

How does one learn to listen with their heart and not just their ears? Several website articles will most likely say it’s simply a matter of listening to your gut-feeling, or not to neglect your intuition. While that is good advice, complete with step-by-step instructions on how to meditate and hone in on your heart’s voice, it shouldn’t be so complicated. This is especially true when the heart you wish to listen to belongs to someone you care about. The best piece of advice I had seen came from Karen Ehman in her devotional on March 13, 2017 (see full article at http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/how-to-hear-a-heart-drop). In Ehman’s article she proposes a few simple and easy ways to learn to listen to another’s heart speaking. More than just listening, but also learning to respond.

  1. Learn to pay attention and live alert to others. This means you have to put yourself in a state of mind and body that is fully present to the person you are listening to in front of you.
  2. Responding to the other person with a thoughtful gesture that reassures your sincerity. You can do this by a reassuring word, a gentle hand on the shoulder, or by sending a handwritten note if the environment does not lend itself to speaking or physical closeness.
  3. Notice, respond, and echo your heart’s response to the person. This final step takes the first two, and completes it with a course of action you will take to show the other person that they are not alone.

In my book series, The Last Prophet, our main character, a therapist, has learned this skill of listening to hearts speaking. Dr. Sophia Randall developed this skill not just from her training, but because she herself has learned the importance of being fully present to a person. When our attention and focus is not torn away by technology or worries (e.g., cell phone, things we left behind unfinished at home or at work, etc.), then we are able to give our whole self to hearing with our ears and listening with our heart. This holds true for anyone, not just those of us who counsel.10570282_10153119467343957_4641436977236615416_n

After my conversation with Leanne several weeks ago, I continued to listen to her heart speak to me. Now, she feels more comfortable with me and just tells me directly what her concern is. In those instances, when she lets her heart speak instead of her words, my heart is also all ears.

Whose heart is speaking to you today? How will you respond? Comment in the space provided.

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*Names have been changed to protect identity.

 

What Disappointment Teaches Us

Let-downs. Broken promises. Betrayals. Call it what you will, but one word can sum all these up in the very feeling we get: Disappointment. It can be an ugly feeling, eating away at our very core like a gnawing sensation from our stomach. As unpleasant and unhappy we may feel from disappointments, there is (believe it or not) a silver lining to this grey cloud. Most of the time, that silver lining comes in the form of actual lessons we learn from the experience. I have a very recent example of such a situation.

Over the course of 10 years, I had developed a friendship with someone I met at work that I had hoped would blossom into something beyond collegial camaraderie. We met approximately once or twice a week and chatted about life, our jobs, and family. We worked in different departments, but our offices were close and I figured why not make nice with the person sharing our same floor space in the building. This friend happened to be a commissioned officer in the National Guard, and was actually working for the university as a Military Science assistant professor, and Army recruiter. I learned a lot in those 10 years, not just about my friend, but about how the U.S. military works.

Two years ago, my friend told me he would be reassigned to a different institution, but that he was not willing to go. A month after he told me this, he mysteriously (or not so mysteriously) stopped coming to work. Rumors among his immediate colleagues began to surface that he had committed an act of insubordination to his commanding officer and was given a choice to retire (a nice way of saying “forced retirement”). While there was no evidence of the rumors being true, what was disappointing to me was that my friend never once confided in me that he would not be returning. Even more disappointing was that he cut all ties in our communication.

No replies to my text messages. No replies to my emails. Forget social media, since he was so old school that he didn’t like touching computers and barely learned how to operate his new iPhone that his wife bought him. He just vanished. I was disappointed that I felt more strongly about our friendship than he apparently did. I also felt betrayed. The lesson I learned, my silver lining, is that I learned something from him over the course of 10 years, and it was not time that was wasted in the long run.

Each of us can and have learned from the disappointments in our lives, even more so if that disappointment ends a relationship like my experience showed. An article written by J.B. Cachila in the Life section of Christian Today points to some lessons we can take from disappointments, but from the standpoint the prophet Samuel of King Saul (see http://www.christiantoday.com/article/3.lessons.that.we.can.learn.from.samuels.disappointment.with.saul/89085.htm for full article). These lessons, are still applicable today in any situation and for any person (royals and otherwise):

Lesson #1:  Feeling Sadness over someone who has disappointed us is natural and completely okay… but don’t stay there. Mourn if you must, but remember that tomorrow is a new day and with each new day is a new beginning. Self-pity and woe will not serve you or help you move forward.

Lesson #2:  The show must go on. Just because someone has not followed through or something fell through (e.g., a broken promise), things still have to get done and life continues on. You (and me) continue to exist beyond the sting of disappointment. Put your big girl pants on and walk on like a boss!

Lesson #3:  Do not beat yourself up for someone else’s failure. Recognize your role in what you can control, and change THAT. But do not blame yourself for something that you did not do. Likewise, do not give more power to a situation you cannot change.forgiveness_2

Disappointment and lessons learned from it can happen to anyone. In The Last Prophet, Michael’s Mission (Book Two), one of the main characters experienced great disappointment in how he handled a situation with the prophetess, Sophia Randall. Sophia’s guardian protector, Gabriel, felt sadness and disappointment in a particular situation and felt very cast out. Though he poured his heart out before the Tabernacle, it took the encouragement, reassurance, and reality check of his brother to help see the guardian protector through and to profess the truth to the prophetess about their future and the mission they shared.

While some of our disappointments may not be as monumental as the main characters of my books, they still happen. If you are reading this blog, then my guess is that your survival rate from disappointments you’ve experienced in the past has been 100%. The human spirit is incredibly resilient, and able to move beyond set-backs. That is all they are… set-backs, with little or no lasting permanence. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “That which does not kill you will make you stronger.” Enough said.

What lessons have you learned from disappointments? Comment in the space provided.

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Avoiding Victim Mentality

During the winter holiday season, I was experiencing an overwhelming sense of despair and loneliness. What person wouldn’t, with having to deal with my father’s second heart attack before Thanksgiving, my dad’s eviction from his home on Christmas Day, and my husband’s refusal to be a more “social” and congenial person at my church friend’s home on New Year’s Eve? I think any person would have felt an all-time low with such negative incidents occurring back-to-back during the more cheerful seasons. I had become so fed up with all of it that by the middle of January, I decided to talk to a priest friend about how I was feeling. He was very patient and listened to me pour my heart out about how alone and hopeless I felt experiencing all this misfortune.

He asked me if I thought I was the only person who’d ever had the scare of possibly losing a parent, or if I was the only person whose sibling had major disagreements with our parents, OR if I was the only wife who had issues with her spouse’s lack of social skills. My answer to each of his questions was a resounding, “No,” at which point I was feeling guilty. Father Peter’s advice to me was twofold. First, he said I needed to find a support network (preferably of very understanding and patient friends) who would listen with unconditional love and non-judgement. He said that I needed to be around more positive people. I agreed. His second piece of advice was, “Stop falling into the victim mentality.”

I was taken back by his comment. At first, I thought he had just told me that I was throwing myself a pity party. But he did clarify. While we are not always able to control situations that happen to us, we are able to control our reaction to it. We are responsible for our reaction to an action or situation. I took his advice, but couldn’t help but wonder if I really had this victim mentality going on in my psyche.

For those of us who don’t know, victim mentality is a trait that causes an individual to view themselves as a victim of their circumstances, as being someone who should be pitied and as someone who is up against exceptional odds. As Father Peter advised me, I may not be responsible for the situation at hand, but I am in control of my reaction to it. In an article by Adam Sinicki in Health Guidance (see full article at http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/17840/1/Understanding-and-Overcoming-Victim-Mentality.html) there are a few ways of combating the trap of victim mentality.

  1. Identifying and recognizing that you have this state of mind. One cannot fix a problem they do not acknowledge exists, therefore, the first step is to see it in yourself.
  2. Develop a “gratitude attitude.” Focus on the things in your life that are going well, and be thankful for even the smallest of blessings in your life.
  3. Seek out privacy and counsel. It is always a good idea to talk out your problems with someone privately, especially someone you trust. If the issue you perceive is the people you trusted, then perhaps seeking professional help through therapy or counseling. One non-therapy form of seeking privacy is to also monitor what and with whom you share information. Start to self-monitor your negative self-talk or stories you tell others, and reign it in.forgiveness_2
  4. Learn to forgive. Often, victim mentality comes with the desire to place blame on someone who may or may not have wronged us. Holding onto anger only causes harm to ourselves. We really do have to learn to forgive AND forget. Anger only harms ourselves. As one quote states: “being angry at someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
  5. Take responsibility. Victim mentality has a very high external locus of control, meaning that our lives are controlled by everything outside of us. This needs to shift to a more internal locus of control in how we react to situations, and seeing if we have not acted in a way that may have contributed to the present circumstances. We truly can only control how we react or failed to act in any given situation.

In my fifth and final book in the spiritual fiction series, The Last Prophet: Raziel’s Revelation, the main character continues to focus on how a troubled young man’s life has been the result of various instances of victim mentality. Unfortunately, the young man chose to use that mentality as his guiding force and turned to the dark side. Spoiler alert: he is still redeemed, but it requires major reprogramming of his mentality, and the intervention of Higher Power to bring him back to a state of grace in God’s eyes.

I took Father Peter’s advice to heart and began making several changes in my self-talk, and in how I viewed my life. I have taken a more active role and positive outlook on my relationships, life situations I encounter or enter into, and the types of friends I surround myself with regularly. I had to let go of those individuals, and circumstances, that caused me to slide into victim mentality. I am learning each day how to recognize my habit of falling into victim mentality, and am doing my best to use the methods noted above in combating and avoiding the VM trap. It is easier said than done, but practice makes perfect and I am sure to get plenty of it over the coming months.

Have you ever fallen into Victim Mentality? How will you begin avoiding VM? Comment in the space provided.

To follow Blogs by Claire simply sign up at https://authorclairegager.wordpress.com, or subscribe to the monthly updates on my author page at http://starofsolitude.wix.com/authorclairegager. You can also follow Author Claire Gager at one of her social media sites:

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Cherising Others Through Affirmations

I recently began the practice of keeping a daily journal dedicated solely for how I was feeling about my husband, Robert. We have been married for a little over 10 years now, and on Valentine’s Day, I had hoped he would surprise me with a nice gift or a little note. When he did not, I did what I felt most wives/moms/women would do… sulked and gave him the silent treatment. Later that evening, I read my daily email devotional. Oddly enough, it was written by a husband who was also struggling to focus on lovely qualities about his wife.

He’d begun keeping a journal about his wife, but it wasn’t JUST any journal. It was a journal of only “affirming” qualities he noted about his spouse. His journal was focused on those qualities that would help him to cherish his wife and their marriage. At Christmas time, this man presented his year-long journal to his wife and she read every passage he had written about her. Everything he had written was an affirmation, and a confirmation of how much he cherished and loved his wife. As I finished reading the devotional and seeing how much this man had changed his attitude and relationship with his wife, I began my own journal as well. Not so much for Robert to see what I am writing about him, but for me to remember why I married him 10 years ago.304737_4014893424896_536202511_n

Words, or even one word, are powerful. When I think about the years I spent with my spouse and this past Valentine’s Day, I had to think about our wedding vows. We both promised to love, honor, and cherish each other all the days of our lives. Do I love my husband? Yes. Have I honored him? I hesitate a little, but I do the best I can in honoring him. However, do I show him that I cherish him? Not always. The other two mean nothing if I do not show and truly do cherish my spouse. What better way to begin rekindling and reminding myself of all the reasons I married Robert than to focus on what is affirming in him?

Affirmations can change your life in so many ways. Just ask the JD Journal (see http://www.jdjournal.com/2017/02/07/how-affirmations-can-change-your-life). Affirmations have the power to manifest themselves based on how we talk to ourselves, or self-talk. When we speak negatively, we are putting out into the ions that negativity that has the potential to come back to bite us. However, if we speak positively, or put positive affirmations out into the universe, it will come back to us. If a person only ever spoke negatively or heard negative things all day long, that person is more likely to have that same kind of day. Multiply that by every single day it happens, then that same person is most likely a miserable soul. If you cancel these negative words, thoughts, or even people out of your surroundings, and begin positive affirmations, you change. Your situation may not change, but you change, and even change the way you react to your situation.

In The Last Prophet book series, my main character focuses very much on affirmations rather than negative self-talk. Dr. Sophia Randall is very much a therapist who uses solution-focused counseling methods to get her clients out of negative self-talk. As the prophetess, however, she also uses affirmations to focus on the goodness that inherently exists in each one of us. We, as she states in Book Five, Raziel’s Revelation (coming in 2017), were created by love, for love, to love, and that means that malice and hate have no place in us as Children of our Creator. When we speak goodness and positivity into the atmosphere – into the universe – we speak what we want to attract. Our greatest desire should be to attract and send out goodness – affirmations.

I took this bit of advice and began my journal that night on Valentine’s Day. It has only been a week since I began, and already I have noticed a significant shift in my behavior and attitude toward Robert. When I force myself to focus only on his personal qualities that I cherish, I change how I think of him to being affirming. I am choosing to build him up back into the man I fell in love with 10 years ago. I am choosing to affirm him and our marriage. Even on those days when he is being especially ornery or stubborn, I have found something affirming to say about him in my journal.

Mind you, this journey of his affirmation and cherishing journal have only begun, but if I am able to see the changes in my attitude toward him in just a week, I can only imagine what the rest of the year holds for us. I have not told Robert what I am doing, but I suspect he knows something is up since he seems to glance over at me whenever I am sitting at the table and handwriting in my journal rather than typing away on my laptop trying to finish up my latest book. It is my hope he notices the changes in my behavior and how I treat him, rather than wonder what I’m doing in my journal. Perhaps this practice will be ongoing for the rest of our married life together… and beyond.

Is there someone you need to affirm today? How will you show you cherish them? Comment in the space provided.

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Falling Into Dark Places

Discouragement happens to everyone (some of us more than others). Despite the grander scheme of life, despite all the good that can and does happen in our lives, we all fall into these little moments of discouragement. I like to say it’s like walking under a rain cloud, but I recently read a devotional that called this same feeling a “dark place.” The idea of a dark place – someplace cold, perhaps a bit frightening, and difficult to see – made sense to me when thinking about discouragement.

It was very appropriate since the week found me receiving emails with bad news about jobs I had applied for months ago only to be rejected, coupled with text messages from family members who were arguing and using me as a sounding board. Needless to say, I fell into dark places of my own. Don’t get me wrong. My life, overall, is generally good. I am gainfully employed, I love writing my books on the side, I have an adorable family and lovely friends, I have a roof over my head and food on my dining table. I’m usually content. However, just like most, I can sometimes find myself in a dark place emotionally, and completely forget that my life is good.

I’ve had an argument with my spouse over the same subject more than once. Generally, our marriage is good, but this one recurring argument we have makes me feel like we are stuck in a black hole. Both my sons have Autism Spectrum Disorders, and they have good behavioral days and some not-so-good behavioral days. On those days that are not-so-good, I tend to feel like they will never learn to monitor their own actions, but generally speaking they are very affectionate and intelligent young boys. Again, the black hole. I have a career in higher education and in writing that I love and truly enjoy, but every now and then I receive criticism (both face-to-face and online) that cuts at a sore spot on my self-esteem. Soon I find myself spiraling headlong into that black hole. You get the point.

Despite all the good and positive qualities and aspects of our lives, we all can fall into that black hole, or that dark place. Life can be hard. I get that. But life is not just hard. Life is not all darkness, it is also light. So my advice would be to look for the light… and the whole picture. In the devotional I mentioned above (full devotional from 2/9/17 can be found at http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo), there are a few tips on how to keep focus on the light in your life. I’d like to share a few here with you:

  • Look at the positive changes that have been made in answer to prayer or in response to communication. With my spouse and the one bone of contention we rehash, I notice that each time is less of a fight. We discuss the issue more now rather than having a shouting match.
  • Look at the strength you gain from going through the process or the hurt or the experience in general. Even though the situation may be a struggle, you gain strength and wisdom from it. The old saying by Friedrich Nietzsche is true: That which does not kill you makes you stronger.
  • Look at the whole picture, not just the hole. One singular experience in our “black hole” does not mean that things will be a black “whole.” It is, again, one instance or one aspect that is negative. Don’t let a tiny speck of sand turn into the entire beach. Don’t let one argument color your outlook on the entire relationship.

In my book series, The Last Prophet, the main character, Dr. Sophia Randall, often tells her client’s in therapy that we need to remain solution-focused when we find ourselves spiraling into negative self-talk. In essence, Dr. Randall tells us that we need to find what has worked, rather than focusing on what does not – simply put, we need to look for the light, and not dwell in that dark place… get out of the black hole! This advice holds true in real life, and not just in the book series.

Whether you are like me, or know someone like me, we all can do our part in helping ourselves or others when those patches of rain cloud follow us, or when we fall into our black holes. Our lives are not made up of one defining moment, but many moments, relationships, and experiences that are part of the big picture.

Where can you shed some light today? Is there someone who needs help out of a “black hole?” Comment in the space provided.blogs-by-claire-pic-post-2

To follow Blogs by Claire simply sign up at https://authorclairegager.wordpress.com, or subscribe to the monthly updates on my author page at http://starofsolitude.wix.com/authorclairegager. You can also follow Author Claire Gager at one of her social media sites:

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The Thankless Job of Doing Good

 

These past few months have been grueling at work. Late nights working on grant proposals that would ensure my staff and I have jobs for the next four years can take a toll on a person, especially when that same staff can’t agree on what needs to go into the working document. As their boss, it is my job to ensure that each vision and idea is somehow incorporated into our proposal. When we add the complication of our executive director’s vision and how lofty the ideas may seem, it can be quite frustrating. My job in all of this is to bring one voice to a single document so it doesn’t seem like a hodge-podge of people writing it. I’ve done this for the past 20+ years of my higher education career as an administrator, so I should be used to it… or so one would assume.

I came home one night, late as usual, after a particularly difficult day feeling rather dejected and deflated. Earlier that day I had been scolded (yes, like a kid being scolded by her parent) by my boss for making a passing comment that usually wouldn’t have roused his anger. That day, unfortunately, was not a good day to make such a comment, and I was scolded in front of my staff. When I came home that night, I sat alone at the dining room table and began crying. Yes, my pride was hurt, but more than anything, I felt like I had been scolded for doing “good.” My husband walked out of the bedroom, our kids already having gone to bed, and he sat with me. Although he was half asleep himself, I poured out my heart to him. Every complaint I had ever held in over the past 20 years of working for my boss seemed to come out like emotional vomit.

I’ve done nothing but help our community and never asked for recognition.

I make him look good in front of his bosses and I never complained about being forgotten.

I work my butt off so our staff can continue to have jobs and support their families and I never expect thanks.

I go out of my way to talk to families to help them get their children through school to make better lives for the next generation.

The list went on and on for a good 5 minute tirade. At the end of it all, my husband said something so simple, yet profound.

“Go to bed momma. You’ll just have to keep doing good and not care about what people think.”

Really?

It seemed like so basic. It had me thinking about the reasons why I do what I do for others. Why do I spend so much time helping families in the low-income community? Why do I go out of my way for other people at work? Why do I care about how my boss looks in front of his own boss? The answer was simple: I do what I do so that others feel loved, cared for, and accepted, and so they won’t have to struggle like I did. I do what I do because I have been called by my God to do good.

I’ve written several blogs on doing good for others, and even mentioned a few times that being altruistic has its intrinsic and extrinsic benefits. I will simply reinforce that belief by sharing more proof that doing good is, in fact, beneficial to oneself and others. In the article Benefits of Altruism written by Elizabeth Scott, MS, for Very Well (found online at https://www.verywell.com/benefits-of-altruism-3144685) helping others has multiple benefits:

1) Psychological well-being – It’s good for your emotional health and peace of mind.

2) Increased social support – When people make personal sacrifices for the sake of doing good, that good often comes back to them in the form of favors from others. So basically, what goes around, comes around.

3) Keeps things in perspective – Helping others in need, especially those less fortunate than you, can provide a sense of perspective on how fortunate you are. Whether it be health, money, or a safe place to sleep, you focus less on the things you feel you lack and more on what you have.

4) Building a better community – By doing nice things for others, you enable them to do nice things for others in turn, and the phenomenon grows beyond you.

5) Helping others is a stress reliever – Studies have shown that the act of giving can activate the area of the brain associated with positive feelings, lifting your spirits, and making you feel better the more you give.

Perhaps the best piece of advice, however, is actually referenced in The Last Prophet book series. Although the main character of the book series delivers her messages of hope, and does so anonymously, she continues to do the good work set for her to accomplish. The reason why? It is not up to her to see the end results of the good work she does or even receive praises and thanks for the hope she has given. It is only her duty and calling to DO the good work. Those who hear her messages are responsible for taking action once she has delivered it. In essence, what we do with the knowledge and gift we have been given is up to us. It is no longer the responsibility of the one who gave us that knowledge or gift. WE are the ones who must choose to act or not act. The choice is ours.

After my good cry at the dining room table, and my husband gently guiding me to our room so I could rest for the night, I laid my head on my pillow knowing that I had done good work. I woke the next morning also feeling affirmed that I was doing good for the sake of doing good. Whether I am thanked or recognized for my good deeds is irrelevant. What is relevant is the actual act of doing the good work.Happy Thanksgiving

As we enter the coming season of being thankful, let us reflect on the people and things we are grateful for in our lives. What good work will you do today? What are you grateful for? Comment in the space provided.

To follow Blogs by Claire simply sign up at https://authorclairegager.wordpress.com, or subscribe to the monthly updates on my author page at http://starofsolitude.wix.com/authorclairegager. You can also follow Author Claire Gager at one of her social media sites:

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The Healing Power of Forgiveness

 

The past month at work has been a roller coaster of emotions. All of it stemmed from an incident that was beyond my control but which those who were affected by it felt I was still at fault. While I am confident and have proof that I did nothing wrong and did all in my power to remedy the situation, it was unsatisfactory to the others’ liking. In the end, every insult was hurled in my direction, albeit behind my back and in my new boss’s face. What hurt most for me (hence the roller coaster of emotions) was that only a few short weeks ago, these same individuals praised me and even told me I was like a second mom to them for having taken care of them. You can imagine my hurt now as I hear them falsely accuse me of doing wrong. It was very painful to listen to these accusations being presented and without proof of their reality, but in the end those with authority over my position were able to find a solution and make all involved somewhat happier… except me.

At the end of the day, my supervisor (a fellow Believer) simply told me that I had to pray for the others who persecuted me unjustly and learn to forgive them. He pointed to not only Scripture, but also psychological research. Simply put, he told me that forgiveness has great power to heal for both the one needing forgiveness and the one forgiving the wrong done. Although I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the ongoing issue, I knew that mulling over the negative experience and hurts would do me no good. As I started looking for a topic for my monthly blog post, I kept thinking about the concept of forgiveness being a way of healing oneself. Oddly enough, I discovered that it really is true.

Diane Cole wrote about this very subject in The Wall Street Journal (I know, right? WSJ talking about healing and forgiveness?). Cole stated that as we age, our values and perceptions change too, and we also find ourselves reflecting back on the past. For some, it begins because retirement is just around the corner. For others, self-reflection happens because our current state of mind and living have become unhealthy and we run the risk of shortening our lives. Whatever the case may be, Cole’s article impressed upon me the idea of the healing power of forgiveness (see http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-healing-power-of-forgiveness-1458525864 for the full article).

Forgiveness could be seen as an alternative position, especially when the other party does not feel remorse over their actions. Cole stated that this, especially among women, is seen as “acceptance” of the situation and by moving forward we alleviate ourselves from the negative thoughts and replace them with a more positive attitude. One study cited in the article stated that depression in woman is also eased when the individual practices a great deal of forgiveness. The final healing power of forgiveness was unexpected benefits one gains from its very practice. A person who forgives past hurts by addressing the source has not only done something very brave by putting themselves out there, but has also created an opportunity to make good and opened themselves up to cleansing and healing through the release of negativity that resided in them for longer than it should have.10408751_525953977568962_8868567055523940930_n

So what does it all mean? While we can’t control the actions, words, or attitudes of those who hurt us deeply, we can control our reactions, our responses, and our own attitudes. Namely, we can be the bigger person and forgive those who hurt us. Thinking about it another way, holding onto the hurt and anger only hurts myself since the one who hurt me is not feeling the same way. I only cause harm to myself instead. By forgiving the wrongs and the person who wronged me, I am setting myself on a path for healing. It is a healing that I have power and control over IF I choose to let go. As I write this blog post, I am already feeling better knowing that the truth was already revealed and that I have no guilty conscience since I did nothing wrong. Forgiving the ones who continue to choose to hurl false accusations and insults at me for trying to help them will free me of the negativity they hope I am feeling. Tonight I sit with my cup of tea and breathe in the peace and healing that comes with forgiveness of self and others.

Pull up a chair and let the healing power of forgiveness seep into your bones and reflect. Is there someone you need to forgive? What situation needs the healing power of forgiveness in your own life? Comment in the space provided.

To follow Blogs by Claire simply sign up at https://authorclairegager.wordpress.com, or subscribe to the weekly updates on my author page at http://starofsolitude.wix.com/authorclairegager. You can also follow Author Claire Gager at one of her social media sites:

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