Articles for the Month of November 2014

Forgiveness: Giving Up Pain for Peace of Mind



By Cathy Neville, LPC and Aisha Simmons

Perhaps you came by your hurt feelings honestly.

Someone damaged you and you retreated. Someone angered you and you lashed out.

Whatever the circumstances… mistakes, misunderstandings, and misery happened.

Can you pardon the parent who neglected you?

Can you harbor no grudge towards the lover who betrayed you?

Can you turn the other cheek in the face of someone else’s irresponsibility?

The truth is, most people don’t and won’t choose forgiveness easily. It’s just too hard.

Forgiveness is Willing Sacrifice.

“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.”–C.S. Lewis

For many of us, forgiveness doesn’t happen without a push.

We consider it only when we’re finally desperate for peace beyond our pain.

After all, you may have once thought your resentment would teach your offender a lesson.

You might have believed that breaking ties, killing communication, or nursing ill will would furnish a strong dose of what he or she deserved.

Instead, your need for justice or apologies simply kept you a permanent victim and your violator remained a perpetual villain.

Somehow, holding on to all that hurt and negativity became an exhausting, depressing, endless endeavor.

Maybe now it’s time to willingly sacrifice your right to hit back.

Forgiveness is Deliberate Love.

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. –Martin Luther King Jr.

Why forgive?

Because you’re worth the resulting peace and liberation.

You need it.

You’ve suffered long enough.Forgive yourself.

Love yourself.

Absolve yourself of your fear, fretting, loneliness, and nasty attitude.

Recognize that your suffering is now just a lesson, not a leash to hold you back.

Forgive him, her, them, the world, whoever hurt you.

Forgive with an enthusiastic and empathetic desire to be well.

Compassionately and tightly close the door on the past.

Because you truly want what’s best.

Even if justice, transformation, or apologies never materialize the way you hoped.

Forgiveness is Acceptance and Promise.

“Forgiving does not erase your bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot change creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”

–Louis B. Smedes

Forgiveness restores and reconnects the seasons of your life.

You have permission to fearlessly move forward.

You can put down the past and pick up a future full of human kindness and potential.

It’s okay to want better. It’s good to want more.

Forgiveness offers more freedom, more love, and more relationships.

Forgiveness says that you were wounded but that you are more than the sum of your hurts.

It is power over trials and trauma for a merciful fresh start.

Forgiveness is Work and Growth.

“Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.”

– – Dr.Steve Maraboli

The lessons of forgiveness are often woven into the process itself.

To forgive, you have to get out of your own way.

To forgive, you have to accept that you have feelings about what happened.

But refuse to be confined by those feelings and emotions.

To forgive is to learn to be loving– genuinely, authentically loving,

despite having been heartbroken, unloved or unprotected.

To do any of this stretches you, I know.

But do it for yourself.

The journey of forgiveness nurtures understanding and endures growing pains.

Allow compassion and loving-kindness to flourish.

Make forgiveness your best work.

Dating after Divorce: Ready?

By Cathy Neville, LPC


Completing the emotional work that signals you are equipped to move on

Once upon a time you were married. Thus avoiding all the tension and uncertainty of the dating scene. Then you divorced. And now? Now, the dating game is calling. And you’re the next contestant. You think.How do you know if you’re really ready?Dating after divorce can be tricky if you’re getting out there for the wrong reasons.Are you trying to prove your worth to your ex? Are you afraid to be alone?Is dating simply a distraction from questions you have about your own future and abilities?Preparing your heart and mind for a new lease on love means devoting yourself to healing and growth. Doing the internal work of grieving, self-examination, and reaching key resolutions will lay the proper foundation for relationships you build going forward.The following tips may be helpful for testing your dating and relationship readiness:Dating Readiness Tip #1: There is no ex factor.

If you have fully surrendered your former relationship and the person you were married to no longer holds your emotional attention, you may be ready to see someone new.

What does getting over your ex really look like?

  • You no longer feel the need to discuss, inquire about, or ruminate over your former partner’s current life and activities.
  • Anger, rage, bitterness, sorrow, and resentment are no longer the primary emotions connected to the mention of your ex spouse.
  • New partners are not merely stand-ins or replacements for your old relationship. You want something fresh and new.
  • You grieved well and truly let go. Unproductive attempts to delay or suppress grief were abandoned. You recognized that grief is a part of loss and allowed yourself to feel your emotions honestly and completely.

Dating Readiness Tip #2: You know who you are.

If you have spent time devoting yourself to understanding who you are apart from your former spouse, you may be ready to date again.

What does knowing yourself really look like?

  • You’ve taken the time to separate your own goals, dreams, and desires from those you shared with your former partner.
  • New experiences and opportunities have become ways to find new strengths and direct your life in ways you may not have considered when you were part of a couple.
  • You faced loneliness. By accepting it and working through it to establish your own distinct life, you learned to appreciate your singleness.
  • You’ve established and engaged a supportive group of loved ones that will help you build the life you want.

Dating Readiness Tip #3:

If you’ve unpacked the baggage of your marriage and accepted responsibility for your part of the load, you may be ready to expand your social and romantic horizons.

What does understanding your past relationship really look like?

  • You identified how your habits and conflict style contributed to your marital issues.
  • You accept a portion of the blame for your marriage’s failure.
  • You are able to review the relationship and consider changes for the future.
  • You embrace your relationship strengths, confident that you have something positive to offer a potential partner.

It is natural to want closeness and connection again.

Just be careful not to rush back in.

It is important to be free of the past, secure in yourself, and empowered by the lessons you’ve learned.

Commitment to yourself and time with a counselor can help prepare you.

Build relationships at a pace that reflects a whole heart and strengthened mind.

With the internal work done, you can confidently and successfully get back in the game.