Category Archives: Tools

How do I Forgive Myself?

There is Hope



I can’t believe I did that! What was I thinking? I should have known it wouldn’t work! Why didn’t I see the signs? How could I have been so blind?

When the disappointments of life come, our critical inner voice is released in all its fury. We are surrounded by a whirlwind of “should haves,” “would haves,” and “could haves” that beat down the walls of our self-worth, collapse the house of our dreams, and leave us groveling in a heap of rubble.

Before we even have a chance to assess the damage, our own private judge and jury finds us guilty as charged for not knowing, not being good enough, and not being able to see far enough into the future. We are sentenced to a life of hard labor for what we have unwittingly done!

Hold on! If someone we love makes a mistake and feels bad about it, we are quick to step in and reassure them that we love them. We encourage them to keep moving forward and give them a helping hand to get back on their feet. Why can’t we do that with ourselves?

We know ourselves too well. We have rehearsed our weaknesses and imperfections more times than we can count. We know what happens when they are played out on the stage of our lives. We have seen firsthand how the audience responds and the resulting consequences.

We think that if we punish ourselves first, then God won’t have to! We forget that he has already paid the ultimate price for our sin because of his love for us. Instead, we assume that surely he cannot love us until we have paid the ultimate price ourselves!

God’s love is like the sunshine. It is always there. Sometimes we cannot feel it because a cloud of self-doubt or a hailstorm of weakness and imperfection gets in the way. Groping around in the darkness and shadows, we forget that the sun will come out again, or even that it is still there!

In order to forgive ourselves, we have to find some small ray of sunshine to rekindle our hope. If we can remember the good that has happened in our lives, we realize that we are still worthwhile people. We are able to minimize our mistake, let go of the ill feelings, and move on.

In essence, we change our inner critic into our inner parent. Like a loving father, we wrap our arm around our shoulder and give ourselves some instructions. We accept the humble state of our weakness and imperfection, and give ourselves room to grow and progress.

Life goes on. Thankfully, the sun comes out! It always does. Disappointment and heartache are replaced by joy and happiness as we forgive ourselves. We move forward with faith and renewed hope that we can become the people that we were meant to be!

©2015 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. Subscribe todayfor your emotional health!

Leave a comment – Do you have a hard time forgiving yourself?

The Ten Second Rule

It Takes a Second

“Our thoughts are not our own,” the speaker said, “They come from all around us.” She went on to say that in order for them to become our own, we have to act on them. “When we have an unwelcome thought, we have ten seconds to change it. It doesn’t have to stay with us.”

Ten seconds…that is a long time. If we count one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, four-one thousand, five-one thousand, six-one thousand, seven-one thousand, eight-one thousand, nine-one thousand, ten-one thousand at a good clip, we get an idea of how long it is.

I have always believed that we have a split-second of time once a thought enters our minds to change its outcome. I call it the “Split-Second Opportunity.” Perhaps this is the time to which the speaker was referring. It is that single moment where we see in our mind’s eye what will happen if we act on the thought that has occurred to us.

During that moment, our past meets the present. Our automatic response is in front of us and we see what will happen if we choose to accept it. These consequences are then weighed against our beliefs, hopes, and dreams, and we go forward with what we think is best.

Or is that really what happens? Do we utilize the power that exists within us? Do we understand that we have the ability to change or are we simply living on automatic pilot, hoping that we will reach our destination safely? Are we allowing our past experiences and current circumstances to dictate our every action?

If not, we have the chance of a life-time! We can change our future! In this critical moment, we have the ability to break the chains that bind us down to misery and unhappiness. We have the opportunity to accept our own ineptness and turn it into strength!

Perhaps it isn’t that simple. Life is complicated. We try every day to do our best, but things get in the way. People don’t do what we think they should. We feel frustrated and upset when problems happen and it takes more effort and time than we had planned. We get down on ourselves, stressed to the point that we cannot seem to function.

Our automatic reactions are affected by our state of mind, physical health, and use of mood-altering substances. We may have major hurdles to cross before we can get to the point that we are able to even recognize that we have the power of choice.

And yet, what if it did work? Try the ten-second rule, for your emotional health!

©2014 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. Subscribe today.  

Leave a comment – What do you think? Do we really have the power of choice?

Deep Breathing Brings Calm

Deep Breathing1


The teenager had been in my office before, but this time was different. His mother dropped him off at the door, and then was gone. Usually she waited in the car outside. He did not come directly into the room but paced back and forth in the hallway.

I waited for him to slow down a bit and then invited him in. He slunk into the nearest seat, his shoulders hunched over as if warding off a blow. I sat down across the table from him and scattered some colorful magnets onto the surface. I did not say anything, just built a three-dimensional figure with the magnets. Eventually, he felt comfortable enough to join me.

We talked about the problems he was having with school, his part-time employment, and especially his family. The more he talked the more relaxed he became and we were able to address the anxiety he was experiencing. I told him that there was something he could do at home that would help.

I had him lie down on the floor, flat on his back, and bring his knees up to form a tent, or upside down “V” with his feet flat on the floor. I told him to relax his shoulders, and put his hands on his stomach, then breathe in slowly counting to the number five.

His stomach rose with the inhalation, and then when he exhaled, we counted to five again. With each deep breath, his anxiety diminished and his tense muscles relaxed. The more he breathed deeply, the more well-being he felt. After only a few moments, he was ready to go forward and face the day.

We talked about how to use this technique, even if he could not lie down, the key being to breathe slowly, moving the diaphragm down and allowing the stomach area to expand. The vacuum created would bring air into the lungs. Then, as the diaphragm relaxed, the air would be slowly pushed out through the mouth.

This simple action decreases feelings of anxiety by providing the following physical benefits:

  • concentration on the breathing action clears distressing thoughts from the brain
  • the heartbeat slows down, decreasing pressure on arteries and veins
  • blood moves more slowly, allowing greater nutrient absorption in the muscle tissue
  • nerve impulses decrease, dissipating feelings of stress
  • as the body relaxes, the spirit calms

Not only did this young man feel the benefits of decreased anxiety, he was able to have renewed feelings of self-reliance. He had a tool that he could use at any time to help increase his feelings of well-being.

Give your soul a break today. Breathe deeply, for your emotional health!

©2014 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. Subscribe today.

Leave a comment – How has deep breathing been beneficial to you?