How to Rebuild a Relationship with Someone Who’s Hurt You

“Holding a grudge doesn't make you strong; it makes you bitter. Forgiving doesn't make you weak; it sets you free.” ~Unknown

My situation is probably not unlike that a lot of people reading this.

I grew up in a single-parent home. Don’t get me wrong, I had a pretty happy childhood, and my mom did an unbelievable job raising me. She worked four jobs to make sure I always had the best of everything. But I could never shake the feeling that I always wanted a father figure in my life.

My parents had separated when I was very young. My dad was a marine, my mom was a doctor, and she had realized that she didn’t want to be moving around her whole life. This meant that I only got to see him once or twice a year. And slowly, we became increasingly estranged.

When I was sixteen, I found out that he was deciding where to buy a new house for a more permanent and stable job post. I started thinking that he would find something nearer to me. He now had more flexibility, and finally, I could see him more often. We could begin to build a real relationship and make up for the years of missed birthdays, graduations, and other memories.

But then, right when I got my hopes up, he didn’t. He stayed where he was—with his new wife and her kids. Even though it seemed like they didn’t appreciate him, and even though I felt that I needed him more than they did.

It broke my heart.

In fact, it’s almost ten years later, and although we’re on better terms now than we’ve ever been, I’m still healing.

I had to learn to let him go before I could learn to forgive him. And I had to learn to forgive him before I could build a relationship with him. We’re in the process of building that relationship, and we’re better off now than we’ve ever been. But I’m still accepting that I’ll never get the dad that the little girl in me always wanted.

It’s a tough pill to swallow. Knowing that people that you have the most love for are sometimes going to hurt you. Sometimes even those who are supposed to protect you. It’s one of the most difficult lessons you’ll learn in a lifetime, but it’s a part of being human.

I hope my experience can help to shed some light on your own relationships with partners, family members, and close friends.

Here’s how I learned to let go and forgive.

1. See the human being in the projection.

A significant part of what we see in other people, particularly those with whom we have an emotional history, can often be a projection of our own unconscious attitudes toward that person, and not a reflection of how they are behaving.

This is difficult to see in ourselves, and tends to be even more pronounced in people we’ve known for a long time, particularly our parents.

I learned to forgive my dad by seeing the person in him and not the idea of what I thought a father should be. Doing so wasn’t an easy process, as I had to face shortcomings in both of us. On his side it was constantly making promises he couldn't keep, out of a fear of losing love and affection from anyone around him. For me, it was the inability to give him a chance to make things right, and see him in a new light, even when it was the most appropriate thing to do for both of us.

Fortunately, over time, as I grew as a person, I was able to build a new relationship with him, based on fresh experiences and not sour expectations.

2. Constantly re-assess your expectations.

When trying to start afresh with my father, I found myself constantly face to face with my old expectations. Whenever he would act in a certain way, such as making empty promises or failing to be there for me when I need him, it would trigger an old story (and old emotions) I had about how he’d always been this way or how he’d never change. But each time I did so, I was able to reassess my expectations.

A cynical way to look at this would be to say that I lowered them. But who’s to say for whatever reason they weren’t too high to begin with? When he began to act in a way that was more congruent with what I had come to expect, we were both happier, and he even began to positively surprise me sometimes when he fulfilled promises I didn’t expect him to.

3. Look at the world from their perspective.

The spiritual teacher Ram Dass once said: “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” It’s a tongue-in-cheek quote, and I’ve tried to apply the idea my situation. I’ve always thought that I’m an empathetic and understanding person. But can I really stand in the shoes of my family members and be completely ok with their actions, particularly those who have hurt me?

I tried to think about my dad’s situation, his expectations and disappointments, the influences in his life like constantly being on the move because of his work. And I understood that he wasn't there for me partly because he was afraid of losing his new family and being alone.

At the end of the day, while I couldn’t come to justify his actions, I was able to see the rationale in them, and have empathy for him as a flawed human being, rather than someone who had intentionally done me wrong.

4. Practice acceptance in all areas of life.

Sometimes I couldn’t separate the man from the projection, I couldn’t change my expectations, and I couldn’t come to rationalize where I’d been done wrong. At this point, I had to try and accept things the way they are. And at first, I couldn’t. It just felt so inauthentic, I was still so angry and upset. So I decided to start small and practice acceptance as a skill.

I accepted little things like traffic on the way to work and rudeness by people in shops. I accepted when I saw something I didn’t like on the news or friend of mine had been a little thoughtless. I even made it a habit to accept things I didn’t like about myself, and finally, I began to be able to accept my father for his mistakes.

5. View relationships as fluid, not solid.

This final point was one of the most interesting. I began to view relationships in my life as fluid and not solid. For me, fluid relationships meant that people could enter and leave, their roles could change, as could the way we related to each other. Unfortunately, this is a natural fact of life, and the choice we have is whether or not we resist it.

My dad hasn’t been a huge support, nor a good role model, but right now he’s father and a friend, and someone I love. That may change in the future, for better or worse, but I’m trying my best to be open to the journey.

Learning to let go of people you love when they’ve hurt you is one of the most difficult challenges we will face in a lifetime. As you can see from my situation, letting go of someone may be releasing the grip you have on the idea of who they should be. Sometimes you can still maintain a relationship, just not the one you want. And sometimes, that’s exactly what you need.

Have you ever had to rebuild a relationship with someone who’s hurt you? Leave a comment below, I would love to hear your stories!

About Anais Rodriguez

Anais Rodriguez is a marketing consultant, cosmetics aficionado, and the social media manager for the mental health and meditation blog Project Monkey Mind. If you'd like to know how you can calm your mind using Modern Psychology and Eastern Spirituality, get the free cheatsheet 7 Psychological Hacks for Depression & Anxiety (in 5 minutes or less).

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The Powerful Brightness of Joy

On the darkest of nights, when cloud cover masks the sky’s countless constellations, a patient star-gazer will still find light. A brief hole in the sky as the clouds shift, allows the celestial bodies to show through. Joy is this way too, coming into view even in the bleakest of times.

This is not to say that joy replaces sadness or struggle nor that it’s realistic to expect a constant state of elation in life. Rather, our minds are capable of a duality which allows for both dark and light emotions to exist alongside one another.

If we can infuse even the smallest amount of lightness or levity into a time of difficulty, we can steady ourselves for the journey required to pass through dark times.

I recall a time in my life when I was facing a hefty problem. Of the many calls of support I received, one stood out as especially uplifting. A friend who had experience with a similar situation rang me to talk about it in practical terms. After some time of sharing advice, he made a joke about what I was dealing with. I paused for a moment and then let loose an uproarious laugh.

When I finally stopped laughing, he said, “Oh, good. I wasn’t sure you were ready for humor but I am glad I tried.”

He had the courage to momentarily move the clouds out of my dark night, showing me a spark in the sky. That was a powerful experience. Humor is a remarkable tool for easing pain. If we are able to poke fun at something grim, we are able to weaken the fear associated with the problem we face. Humor isn’t the only tool we have for taking the wind out of forbidding sails. Keeping an eye out for moments of gratitude, planning fun, and reaching out with offers of good-times are immensely useful in fostering joy.

Gratitude empowers joy

I once read: “joy is a compass.” It’s a quote I liked enough to print out and hang on my refrigerator. Its meaning resonated: joy is something that we should use to determine our direction in life.

A school supply shopping trip enlarged my understanding of the sentiment. Joy is not only the kind of compass that points our direction, joy is also akin to the compass used in geometry. We can draw circles of joy within or around the edges of nearly every situation.

One such way to do that is to focus on something to be grateful for. Even when life is especially trying, we can find reasons for gratitude. I knew a woman whose young daughter was in the hospital for an extended time receiving medicine intravenously. Upon first seeing her daughter with the tubes, she felt scared. To combat her fear, she named the electronic IV machine and tied a few bows around it.

Her daughter and she referred to the machine by name, attributed personality traits to it and introduced it to visitors. It was silly but effective. The patient and her family were able to combat fear of the unknown with gratitude for the doctors, nurses and even the devices involved in her care.

Take control by planning fun

During difficult times, we may feel a loss of control in our lives. Planning something to look forward to allows us to exert some sense of power over things. It can be even the smallest of treats, such as a visit with a friend or a walk along a favorite trail.

A friend finds that a walk along the beach without his cell phone, gives him time to recharge and better face the lengthy job hunt he is in the mists of.

Reach out with joy

When I was in elementary school, a student’s mother passed away. Though she wasn’t a member of my grade, I recall the principal meeting with my class. She explained that the student was worried about coming back to school because she feared that if she was laughing or having fun on the play yard, other kids might assume she wasn’t missing her mom. Our principal went on to explain that there were no rules to grief and that opposite emotions may stand side by side with one another.

Her words gave me a window into the nature of grief that has always stayed with me. Our hearts are capable of holding great sadness and happiness at once. What’s more, a healthy psyche relies upon the wholeness of our emotions and allowing — even encouraging — breaks from grief are useful.

We may tend to be uncomfortable around the grief and hardship our friends face in life, but we shouldn’t avoid it or them. In addition to being a shoulder to cry on, inviting a friend out for an evening of fun or sending a lighthearted text might be precisely what someone weighted down with heavy emotions needs. He or she might not accept your invitation, nor reply to your text, but keep trying. Knowing that friends are available to infuse joy into difficult times is powerful and helps ward of feelings of isolation.

A sky full of stars

With some practice, we are capable of being the force that clears space for joy to enter our lives and the lives of our loved ones in times of darkness. It is with experience and faith that we know that the stars are present even when we are unable to see them; and joy is available even when we are in sorrow or on unsteady ground.

Christine Moore grew up in rural Northern California surrounded by nature. She holds an MFA in poetry and has written professionally for more than 15 years. Her articles about food and wine support her bon vivant ways and help her encourage others to live a life of joy and passion. She facilitates a women’s spirituality group in her community.

Image courtesy of Eidy Bambang-Sunaryo.

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The Easiest Way to Avoid Mediocrity and Be a Superstar

The average office worker works for two hours and 53 minutes in an eight-hour work day. About 180 minutes.

On average they spend 65 minutes reading news websites.

And another 44 minutes on social media.

What do they do on social media? I guess they argue with people who are around the world also sitting in their cubicles.

Everyone typing: “I hate this X because of Y and you are an htlr if you BELIEVE the opposite of me!!!!”

Or they “like” dog photos. “Chi-chi might die today. He was born with no legs. I have to check on him.”

The world is run by people working, on average, slightly less than three hours a day.

If you want to shine and change the planet then the answer is very simple.

Don’t read the news.

(Read the FAQ below if you think you will be less informed.)

There’s never anything in the news that will change your life.

Right now in the news (I’m assuming) there’s stuff about the Supreme Court nominee.

That might change my life but there’s nothing I can do about it at all. Zero.

There also might be local news. The UN is meeting in NYC. That won’t change my life. Maybe there was a murder or a robbery. That won’t change my life.

Maybe Tiger Woods won a tournament. That won’t change my life.

None of these things will change my life or make me a better person.

In fact, some of these things might make me a worse person.

I might decide to argue with someone. And during the 20 minutes we might argue, neither of us are doing anything to better ourselves or the world. We’re just fighting for the enormous privilege to say, “I was RIGHT” to argue with that other air-conditioned cubicle dweller.

I was RIGHT. I was RIGHT. I was RIGHT.

Wrong.

This will change your life:

Stay on social media those 44 minutes if you want.

But stop the news.

That’s 65 minutes a day you can do something else.

Take 20 minutes of that and work.

Now, instead of working 180 minutes a day, you’ll work on average 200 minutes a day. Not so bad. Just three hours and 20 minutes in an 8-hour work day.

Hardly any difference. In fact, it might seem like no difference.

But it’s 10% more output per day than the average worker.

JUST TEN PERCENT DIFFERENCE!

What does that mean?

With the laws of compounding, 10% per day means your output, your productivity, your contribution to work will be double that of your co-workers every seven days.

That’s enormous! Everyone will ask, “How is he so productive?”

What magic is he doing?

I know this because I don’t read the news and people ask me this question. I used to think I was fooling people.

I’m pretty lazy. I like to take naps. I like to have downtime. I like to take walks.

But just 20 more minutes of work per day and if you are a freelancer you can:

(I love doing my podcast)

  • Learn a skill
  • Connect more with friends
  • Exercise
  • Make more social calls that can turn into work opportunities
  • Write down 10 ideas a day that can help people or form new connections

And with 20 more minutes a day if you are a cubicle dweller, you can:

  • Help other colleagues with their work (and earn their later reciprocity)
  • Make more sales calls or follow up calls with customers
  • Think of more ways to improve the product or your sales efforts
  • Build an extra skill that would be useful in the office
  • Learn something new about your company or industry that can be useful in your job
  • Improve the skill you were hired for. For instance, I was hired to be a computer programmer when I had a corporate job. I spent a lot of extra time trying to improve. The difference between a “good” computer programmer and a “great” computer programmer is about 10 times. Meaning: a great computer programmer will complete a task 10 times faster and with fewer errors than a simply good computer programmer. My guess is this is true for most skills.

Just 20 minutes a day and you dominate your world.

So instead of looking at the news for 65 minutes a day, look at it for 45 minutes a day.

Or even better…

You will be MORE INFORMED about the world if you look at the news…

ZERO MINUTES A DAY.

FAQ on this obvious life hack”:

A) BUT WON’T I BE LESS INFORMED?

OK, about what? I’m going to look at CNN – Breaking News, Latest News and Videos right now and see what I will be less informed about if I don’t look at the news today:

  • Brett Kavanaugh
  • Tiger Woods
  • Chinese tariffs
  • $18 million in cocaine hidden in bananas
  • Bill Cosby to be sentenced this week
  • Six brothers attack another brother in a political ad
  • “You won’t believe what Goldie Hawn looks like now!”

None of these things inform me in any way that will help my life or the lives of the people around me. Nor will any of these things make my work better.

People say, “Don’t you care who the Supreme Court Justice is?”

I do. But reading the news won’t allow me to have a voice one way or the other unless I was in Congress.

Better to create the news than to read the news.

I create the news by bettering myself, making myself more productive and having a real voice earned by my efforts at getting better at my craft and the things I am passionate about.

Then I can have a voice.

B) BUT HOW CAN YOU GET BETTER IF YOU ARE NOT INFORMED?

Remember, I said only 20 minutes of extra work out of the 65 minutes.

But I still don’t look at the news.

This morning I spent my extra time (45 minutes + the average of 44 minutes people spend on social media) reading books.

A book is written by someone who has spent years of his or her life accumulating life experience and then spending another year writing and crafting it into a form we can learn from.

A news article is mostly second-hand gossip written in a half hour by someone straight out of college.

This morning I read from:

The Dichotomy of Leadershipby my friend and one of my favorite writers on leadership, Jocko Willink. Jocko has been a leader in life and death situations and has used those experiences to understand and explain leadership in corporate environments.

I benefit a lot from reading his experiences and how he’s distilled them into general principles.

The Art of the Good Lifeby Rolf Dobelli who presents 52 interesting ways to live a better life. This morning I read a chapter on “the authenticity myth”. That we are always striving to be authentic but perhaps there is no such thing as “authenticity” and we just need to do our best to be kind and honest.

And I’m re-reading for the 5th time “A Million Little Piecesby James Frey, also a friend, and one of my favorite writers. I read that book to improve my writing.

So in that 45 minutes (or more) I’m actually getting more informed about things that are important to me and the people around me and I’m becoming a better writer.

Reading books helps you become a better person, helps you create the news instead of just read the news.

C) BUT AREN’T BOOKS OUTDATED COMPARED TO TODAY’S NEWS?

I’ve worked for five or six different news organizations.

I remember two things:

1) An editor gathering everyone around for the morning meeting: “OK how can we best scare people?”

2) A TV news producer saying to me in the middle of a broadcast,“We’re just trying to fill the space between ads.”

The news is bad entertainment. Books and life experience are how you better yourself.

No matter what I think about Brett Kavanaugh and what you think, we’re either going to agree or argue. Nobody is going to change their mind. Nobody is going to improve their lives.

Ditto for Tiger Woods winning a golf tournament. Best case there is that I will get bored if we talk about it.

The past few days, with my extra time, I’ve also been writing down my “24 Rules of Wealth”. (A friend of mine asked me “what is money?” and I made this list and I’ve been posting it on Instagram.)

Follow me on Instagram because I’m posting it there.

Here’s a taste of it:

(Here are six of the 24 rules and I explain each one in the notes. Posting bit by bit)

And in those 20 extra minutes (or 65) I just might have time to kiss someone a little more than the average person kisses.

tl;dr

We ONLY spend two hours, 53 minutes a day actually working in an eight-hour work day.

We spend 65 minutes a day reading online news.

We spend on average 44 minutes a day on social media.

If we spent 20 minutes of that news time doing just 20 minutes more work you will have double the productivity of everyone else every seven days. That adds up to amazing career success. (The math: 10% per day compounded is 100% in seven days.)

If we spend the other 45 minutes reading books instead of news you will experience drastic life improvement.

The news almost NEVER actually makes you more informed or betters your life.

I’m a lazy guy. I don’t want to be a billionaire. I don’t create new companies that will build rockets to Mars. Or drone robots. Or stem cell hamburgers. I like to sleep. I like to spend time with my kids, friends and loved ones.

I like my down time.

But for some reason everyone asks me, “How come you are so productive?”

I’ve written 19 books (I have two more coming out soon) and I do a podcast twice a week.

(New book coming out soon)

I do stand-up comedy three–five times a week and I help run a very profitable business that will do over 50 million in revenues this year. Plus I’m an investor in over a dozen companies that I keep regular track of and I’m involved in many charities.

I’m only productive because I don’t spend 65 minutes a day reading news and another 44 minutes a day (which is the average) arguing with people on social media.

I’m blissfully uninformed. And I’m living the dream.

James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Ahmad Ossayli.

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