Do you ever wonder (or worry) if you’re a strong person, like how you’ll handle stressful or traumatic events? Will you surrender to risky choices or pressure? Might you just give up & stop trying or believing? Or will you shut down or wall off any emotion at all, not letting anyone help you or understand how you feel? Is your reality the truth of any event, honestly real, or just your agitated imagination? Where & how do you find the courage, determination, & wisdom to trudge thru your difficult times to break out on the other side of turmoil?

“Being strong doesn’t mean hiding your pain. It doesn’t mean forgoing help when you’re struggling. It doesn’t mean refusing to show sadness and vulnerability. And it doesn’t mean carrying the burdens of life all by yourself. Anything that prevents your healing and stifles your growth does not correspond with strength. Being strong means refusing to tolerate people and things that wound your soul. It means practicing self-care when you’re hurting. It means honoring your feelings by actually allowing yourself to feel and express them. It means treating yourself with compassion and kindness, even when you feel like you don’t deserve any. It means doing what makes you happy and being with people who make you feel good. It means asking for help when the weight of the world has become too much. It means giving yourself permission to get your needs met by setting boundaries. It means to take care of yourself.
Breathe. All of the times you felt this anxious and this overwhelmed. All of the times you felt this level of pain. And remind yourself how each time, you made it through. Life has thrown so much at you, and despite how difficult things have been, you’ve survived. Breathe and trust that you can survive this too. Trust that this struggle is part of the process. And trust that as long as you don’t give up and keep pushing forward, no matter how hopeless things seem, you will make it.
If you’re struggling, you deserve to make self-care a priority. Whether that means lying in bed all day, eating comfort food, crying, sleeping, rescheduling plans, finding an escape through a good book, watching your favorite TV show, or doing nothing at all — give yourself permission to put your healing first. Quiet the voice telling you to do more and be more, and today, whatever you do, let it be enough. Feel your feelings, breathe, and be gentle with yourself. Acknowledge that you’re doing the best you can to cope and survive. And trust that during this time of struggle, it’s enough.”  ~~ Daniell Koepke
Finding strength, down deep inside, is not about brute willpower, lack of emotion, denial, or pretending. It’s more about simply having hope & faith that your pain will heal & the pendulum will swing back. It’s believing that nothing really happens by accident, & just because you don’t currently have a goal, purpose, or destination, even a direction to turn, the answers & options will appear when you’re ready to see & take advantage of the opportunity. You can never fully live, love, & appreciate today until you can let go of yesterday’s pain, not the lesson but the sorrow & regret. And stop wallowing in your pain. No one else’s sympathy for you is going to take away the pain. There’s a reason for everything that happens in your life. Be patient when you feel like you’ve lost everything, & humble when you feel like you have everything. Cry when the tears build up so they can cleanse your wounds & heal, then continue your journey. A loss, that HOLE in your life, simply means there’s room for something or someone else to move in & bring joy into your life again. Smile & remember the good times with gratitude for the happiness & love. Smile & remember the sadness, mistakes & bad times with gratitude for the lessons life has taught you.
“I used to think the worst thing in life is to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” ― Robin Williams
“Instead of looking at what's depressing, look at what's a blessing.” ~~ Kristen Butler 

“Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.” ~~ Pema Chodron
Life is always changing, sometimes for the good & sometimes for the bad. But you always have at least two choices: do something, or don’t do anything.  Usually nothing changes if you don’t make the choice to make a change

“It is best not to know too much too soon. It is best to know only that the story continues and to follow where it takes you." ~~ Mark David Gerson
The pain from your past builds your strength, like muscles that get exercised. Never believe your mind if it says to give up because eventually you’ll be looking forward instead of backwards at your past.
“To get over the past, you first have to accept that the past is over. No matter how many times you revisit it, analyze it, regret it, or sweat it…it’s over. It can hurt you no more.” ~~ Mandy Hal
“We are all a little broken. But last time I checked, broken crayons still color the same.” ~~ Trent Shelton
“You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It wont happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.’ You must make up your mind that no matter what comes your way, no matter how difficult, no matter how unfair, you will do more than simply survive. You will thrive in spite of it.”  ~~ Joel Osteen
“I think it's very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” ~~ Olivia Wild
“Be strong, but not rude. Be kind, but not weak. Be bold, but don’t bully. Be humble, but not shy. Be proud, but not arrogant.” ~~Jim Rohn
“We are not our yesterdays and are given the gift of today to change our tomorrows.” ~~ Kim Malchuk
“You know you have made the right decision when there is peace in your heart.” ~~ Sabina Tabakovi
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” ~~ Neil Gaiman
“I’ve been through so much that there isn’t much left that can scare me. I’ve felt the most pain that I could feel, and I’ve felt the most pressure that I could feel and there’s nothing else left. And I believe that I’m capable of doing anything.” ~~Ronda Rouse
“Someday you will be faced with the reality of loss. And as life goes on, days rolling into nights, it will become clear that you never really stop missing someone special who’s gone, you just learn to live around the gaping hole of their absence. When you lose someone you can’t imagine living without, your heart breaks wide open, and the bad news is you never completely get over the loss. You will never forget them. However, in a backward way, this is also the good news. They will live on in the warmth of your broken heart that doesn’t fully heal back up, and you will continue to grow and experience life, even with your wound. It’s like breaking an ankle that never heals perfectly, and that still hurts when you dance, but you dance anyway with a slight limp, and this limp just adds to the depth of your performance and the authenticity of your character. The people you lose remain a part of you. Remember them and always cherish the good moments spent with them.
“I don’t think pain goes away. I think we make room for it. With time, love, forgiveness and healing, it eventually takes up less room. Not until then, are we able to fill up that space with a sense of peace and joy in our heart and soul.
Move on. Stop wishing about “if only” things could have been different. It’s just a chapter in the past. But don’t close the book. Just turn the page for every day is a chance to make new beginnings, new hopes and new endings.”  ~~ Brigitte Nicole
“Breathe. All of the times you felt this anxious and this overwhelmed. All of the times you felt this level of pain. And remind yourself how each time, you made it through. Life has thrown so much at you, and despite how difficult things have been, you’ve survived. Breathe and trust that you can survive this too. Trust that this struggle is part of the process. And trust that as long as you don’t give up and keep pushing forward, no matter how hopeless things seem, you will make it.” ~~ Daniell Keopke
“I have learned to be grateful even when I feel sad, to think positively when I’m surrounded by negativity, to hold fast to faith even when I feel hopeless, to accept love even when I feel unlovable; because despite all the noise in my head that tell me my life is over, the sun shows up every morning and shines, reminding me that I can surely do the same.” ~~Margaret. M. Painter
CHANGE. That’s what life is all about. Roll with the punches to the gut & keep moving. Everything that’s good or bad will eventually change whether you think you have the strength to survive or not. Gratitude & thankfulness for the joy & the lessons. Maybe strength is really nothing more than simply not to resisting the inevitable changes.

Forgiveness - Why & How

"As long as you don't forgive, who and whatever it is will occupy rent-free space in your mind."  — Isabelle Holland
Many people find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to forgive — whether themselves, a parent or other family member, friends or acquaintances, a boss or co-worker, or even a total stranger  — for doing or saying something which created pain for themselves or someone else.
"Whatever we have done, we can always make amends for it without ever looking back in guilt or sorrow."  — Eknath Easwaran
DO NOT confuse forgiveness with approval for bad behavior. You don't forgive yourself or anyone else for them — it's for YOU. Refusing to forgive only continues to hurt you!
"I can change. I can live out my imagination instead of my memory. I can tie myself to my limitless potential instead of my limiting past."  —  Stephen Covey
Forgiving the inappropriate behavior of either yourself or someone else has important benefits and absolutely no disadvantages:
Get off the emotional roller coaster of anger, resentment, and desire for vengeance. Admit out loud to yourself all of your intense feelings about a painful experience. Allow all of your hidden thoughts and feelings to finally surface in order to set them free.
"Learning to be aware of feelings, how they arise and how to use them creatively so they guide us to happiness, is an essential lifetime skill."   — Joan Borysenko
Stop living in the past and peacefully move onto to living your life. Accept that whatever happened can never be undone. When you start to relive a bad experience, imagine grabbing you mind with your hands and physically turning it in another direction. Focus on and be grateful for the good things in your life NOW. Emotionally refuse to continue being a victim of someone else's bad choices.
"The period of greatest gain in knowledge and experience is the most difficult period in one's life."  — Dalai Lama
Accept bad behavior (both small, insignificant or major, immoral situations) as an immature, desperate, or ignorant choice; and/or seek legal justice. Take action to ensure a bad situation will not occur again, but then just let go of trying to change something which has already happened.
"To attain knowledge, add things every day.  To attain wisdom, remove things every day." — Lao Tzu
Learn to stop taking everything someone else says or does personally. Life always includes both injuries and healing, so view life and situations in perspective. Understand that — just like you — everyone is doing the best they can to protect themselves from being hurt. Essentially, that means YOU are seldom the most important person in anyone else's life, just as few others are more important to you than you are to yourself.
"Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present."  — Roger Babson

Embracing the Pain

"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding." –Kahlil Gibran

Have you ever noticed how people will push through physical pain to reach a goal because they feel the outcome is worth the pain (getting a tattoo, having a baby, sports, etc).  But yet, people refuse to heal a broken heart because they're AFRAID OF GETTING HURT AGAIN?

"When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out because that's what's inside. When you are squeezed, what comes out is what is inside."  — Dr. Wayne Dyer: Motivational author and speaker

Humans seem to be very reluctant to repeat any experience which produced emotional pain. Unfortunately, this avoidance behavior not only hinders finding and developing healthy relationships, but occasionally even causes people to purposely injure themselves.

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."  — Joseph Campbell: Was a mythologist, author, and lecturer

Since a human heart is physically the hardest working organ in the body (it never stops or rests), it also has the capacity to bear great emotional pain without breaking or stopping.  Heartbreak is just a natural part of the human emotional design. But just like any muscle, the greater the pain and stress, the stronger a muscle grows. With each painful experience, your emotional intelligence and courageous heart also grows. This develops your wisdom.

"Your experience of life is not based on your life, but on what you pay attention to."  — Gregg Krech

So never be afraid to feel and acknowledge your heartbreak. If you can endure and push through physical pain, you can just as easily push through emotional pain. You will not only survive but actually thrive from your perseverance.

"Simple kindness to one's self and all that lives is the most powerful transformational force of all."Dr. David Hawkins: Psychiatrist, physician, spiritual teacher, and lecturer
A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
Enjoy life now — it has an expiration date!

Fear of Letting Go

"To observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence." — Jiddu Krishnamurti: 20th century Indian spiritual and philosophical writer

If you're a control freak, consider the peace and contentment you'd feel by accepting and tolerating all the people, events, and things in your life over which you actually have no control. Understand that a need to control stems from spiritual desperation.  Yeah — fear of being weak, a bad person, stupid, not good enough, or whatever. In order to release it from controlling YOU, you must figure out what your fear is.

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."  — Joseph Campbell: Was a mythologist, author, and lecturer

Begin to let go by resisting the urge to correct other's mistakes or giving them unasked-for advice.  Realize that your expectations don't really change other's desires and choices. Be prepared for feelings of self-criticism when you finally release your own stored-up emotions.

"As long as you have certain desires about how it ought to be, you can't see how it IS."  — Ram Dass: Spiritual Teacher

Actually listen to other's objections or disagreements instead of just injecting your personal opinion into the discussion. The more you understand someone else's feelings, the easier you can help them make choices which are best for them. Tolerance starts replacing resentments.

"Take personal responsibility. We cannot change the circumstances, the weather or the mind of others, but we can change ourselves." — Ian Dickson

Once you let go enough to let others start taking responsibility for their own lives (the mistakes and the details), you'll start to see how much energy you're wasting by living more than just your life.  You can finally slow down, relax, and actually enjoy the moments of your life.

"Life is what happens when you're making other plans."  — Art Linkletter

You'll stop holding grudges, become more patient and spontaneous, and actually feel bored with people who give in to you. Life stops being about reaching goals because you realize that's not what makes you a good person.

"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly." — Buddha: was a spiritual teacher and founder of Buddhism

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
So, enjoy life now — it has an expiration date!

Your Perception of Reality Is YOUR Truth

"What you believe yourself to be — YOU ARE."  — Claude M. Bristol
You are ALWAYS either communicating with others truthfully or lying or withholding information. Truth is based on an abstract what whereas honesty is based on a sense of right and wrong. Doing something deceptively for a "good purpose" is fraud, and eventually becomes part of your truth. Opinions however are simply thoughts and beliefs held by individuals according to their existing experiences in life and are highly subject to change by additional information.
"If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgment of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgment now."  — Marcus Aurelius
Being untruthful with either/or yourself and others is very disempowering, leading to anger and blame to keep yourself happy, and eventually you change the "story" to convince yourself of something which isn't factual. As your integrity slips, your self-justifying perceptions leads to self-betrayal by doing something for someone else which you feel isn't right. Your untruths create a distorted reality which becomes your habitual choice of behaviorFear of not being loved or accepted may prevent you from being totally truthful with others. Sadly, being untruthful increases your stress and expectations with time so you attract and encourage the same untruths from others. 
"You got to look at things with the eye in your heart, not with the eye in your head." — Lame Deer, Medicine Man of the Oglala people
Consider the advantages of telling the total truth as well as what exactly prompts your fears of being truthful [lose of a friend or loved one, showing personal imperfections, or simply upsetting someone else]. Being truthful is the freedom to be who you really are, increases creativity, and allows acceptance of your strengths as well as weaknesses at each stage of your life. This self awareness is empowering and energizing. Plus as you become a better example to others and give more freely of yourself, you'll attract more like-minded people, learn more about yourself, and get out of dissatisfying relationships.
"The greatest enemy of any one of our truths may be the rest of our truths."  William James
Develop your truths by improving your dependability and reliability to do what you say you'll do, offer ONLY constructive comments, create win-win situations, communicate your feelings clearly, remain loyal to your friends and family and don't spread rumors, take responsibility for your feelings and behaviors but apologize whenever needed, listen closely and respectfully to others, and ALWAYS be willing to do your best while being willing to forgive both yourself and others for making bad choices. Stop making assumptions and taking other's behaviors personal.
"Learning to be aware of feelings, how they arise and how to use them creatively so they guide us to happiness, is an essential lifetime skill."  — Joan Borysenko
So your perceptions of your reality and the judgments you make about your world hinge on the truth as viewed through your filter of emotions. Unfortunately, truth can be manipulated just like statistical data so that each person's perceptions can and will be different, accounting for how individuals hear different things and react accordingly to the conversations inside their OWN minds.
"Change. It has the power to uplift, to heal, to stimulate, surprise, open new doors, bring fresh experience and create excitement in life. Certainly it is worth the risk."  — Leo Buscaglia
Letting truth guide your perceptions builds confidence, self esteem, and self awareness. It strengthens your focus to accomplish your dreams and goals. It dimities your limits to seeing the truth from all sides and opens you to receive others as they are. 
"Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true."  — Demosthenes
Enjoy life now — it has an expiration date!