Archive for November, 2010


Every year around this time we Americans give thanks for the blessings in our lives. In particular, we give thanks for the people around us who we love and who make our lives brighter. We gather together with friends and family and we share food and laughter and love and, yes, thanks. But sometimes, in the midst of all of this, we reflect on the losses and the upset for those who are not in our lives anymore because of disagreement or wrongdoing. And it occurs to me that the other side of thanks is forgiveness. And maybe, while we are giving thanks for all that we have been given, are we also able to find room in our hearts to forgive those who have hurt us, or conversely, are we able to ask for forgiveness from those we have inadvertently hurt?

This issue of forgiveness is a difficult one to get our minds around at times. Why would we want to forgive someone we feel has hurt us? We are angry, we are wounded, we have been wronged. But the truth is, while we might have a right to be angry, do we deserve the burden of carrying around our anger and our upset? Or do we deserve to let it go and to move forward with our lives? Sometimes we need to forgive not for the other person’s sake, but for our own sake. In forgiveness we find our ability let go of the constraints of anger and free ourselves of past upsets. Not always easy, but most often very rewarding. Sometimes the way into forgiveness is to ask yourself “do I want to feel this way anymore?” If the answer is “no” then remind yourself that it is your choice. If you truly want to let it go than you can allow yourself to do so. For some this may bring healing to a relationship. But, this does not always mean you have to physically go to the person who you feel has wronged you and tell them you have forgiven them, they don’t need to become your best friend again, you don’t even need to talk with them any more, it simply means that in your heart you can tell yourself “I’m letting it go. I’m leaving the past behind and I am moving forward in my life without continuing to take this burden with me.” The freedom that follows is remarkable.

And how about asking for forgiveness from those we have hurt inadvertently? What better time of year than now to reflect on our own behavior? To take a close look at those situations that we feel badly about. To take the time to think about how we can honestly and humbly take responsibility for our own mistakes. While we are not in control of being granted the forgiveness that we request, a sincere humble apology for having hurt another is a genuine gesture that we can take responsibility for. It doesn’t mean we have to accept blame for the situation necessarily, just the upset that we may have had at least a partial role in. “I’m so sorry your feelings were hurt, it was never my intent” goes a long way to heal wounds. And just as granting forgiveness is not always easy, neither is admitting to our part in a wrong doing. The growth and the lessons learned from this gesture often offers a great reward and lets others know we care about them and their feelings.

What a wonderful way to enter the new year! Reflecting on the past year, listening to your intuitive inner voice and then giving thanks for the blessings and forgiveness for the adversities. What better path to take towards the harmony we all desire in our heart of hearts during these difficult times?

So what do you think? Is it time to forgive and let go?

Be happy and well,
Sari Roth-Roemer

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Coming to acceptance

“Life is difficult.” The first sentence from A Road Less Traveled, the classic book that helped a generation take an inward look. And so here we are again. In a really hard spot. All of us together, and yet each of us alone. But when you remember that this is exactly where we’re supposed to be, it makes it a little bit easier doesn’t it? To recognize and accept that life is difficult, is in essence to make enduring it easier. This is really big stuff actually. I mean, if it is just a given that life is hard, than it’s OK if it’s not easy all of the time, it’s really not meant to be. When it is easy we can enjoy it and take great pleasure in it, and when it is hard we can allow it to be just what it is…a challenge. Without judging it as bad, just accepting it for what it is. That’s the thing we forget, how to let go of judgment. It’s in the judgements that we sabotage ourselves. Of course this is something that we all know, so why do we continue to do it? Maybe because we think we can change the outcome? I watched the movie “Love Story” I don’t know how many times as a child; each time I kept wanting and thinking that it would end happily. It never did. Yet my judgments about death and loss were so strong and so negative, that it urged me forward into silly delusion. Of course I knew the ending wouldn’t actually be different, but oh how I hoped. How many times are we guilty of doing that in our day to day lives? “If only things were different than I would be happy?” Judging the present at those times as hard and horrible and something that we just don’t want. Rather than challenging ourselves to take a look at the other possibilities. Allowing ourselves to feel the weight of the effort, but pleased by the possible opportunity to learn and gain from the difficulty. Because, my friends, the good news is that out of struggle comes growth and learning. No other way to get those gifts. Really.

So how do you let go of judgement? How do you come to accept something that you have deemed terrible, bad, unjust or intolerable? Do you put on a pair of rose colored glasses and make believe that everything is rosy? No, that would be delusion as well. The trick is to distance yourself from the emotion of it. Give yourself some breathing room from that which you are determining is upsetting to you. Ask yourself for a moment to step back, take a breath and observe it as if it is happening to someone else, perhaps a stranger. Observe the situation from afar. Ask yourself to look at the situation from a different perspective. Generate an alternate hypothesis. How else could you look at the situation. What could you say that might help you get through? Maybe something as simple as “I can do this.” or “This is hard, but I can get through it.” Reminding yourself that this is just life. It gives us the hard stuff to manage on a routine basis and from time to time it may give us a brief break where things are a little easier. Now this doesn’t mean we are to go through life depressed. When you let go of judgment you allow the emotions to come and go. Sadness and happiness are all part of the normal ups and downs of life that follow the fluctuating pattern of easy and hard. Just as hard will come, it will also go. The cycle will continue.

So give yourself a break. Accept what is on your plate right now. The only other choice is really only struggle against yourself. Who in their right mind would want to do that? Life is already hard, do you really want to make it harder? Awareness of the normalcy of the struggle, allows for the acceptance and appreciation of where we are at in the moment. What do you think?

Be happy and well,
Sari Roth-Roemer

What glasses are you wearing these days? What I mean to say is, are you aware of the filters that are guiding your opinions and viewpoints? Gender, religious, political leanings are just a few of the biggies that can impact the way we view the world, but so are the less obvious, but greatly influential, inner beliefs that we develop over a life time. “I must be perfect at everything I do.” “I must put others needs before mine.” “My illness makes me weak.” “I must do everything on my own.” “I’m not capable of succeeding without someone else’s assistance.” “If things aren’t difficult, I’m not doing it right.” Do any of these sound familiar? They come from deep inside of us; they are the judgments that we make about ourselves that we may not even be fully aware of. Yet, they directly impact the way we interpret the world around us. So much so, in fact, that they can even keep us from moving forward in our lives. The problem is, many times we are unaware of these inner filters that color our viewpoint of the world. Often we take what we see as the “The Truth”. But is it really truth? Or is what we are seeing simply our own interpretation; something that can change depending on the glasses we view the world through? Which means that when we encounter a difficult situation we can remind ourselves that we have choice about how we are looking at the situation, no matter how difficult. So if how we are looking at the current situation is making us feel badly, maybe we can “switch” the glasses we are wearing and look at the situation from another perspective. How freeing is that? If we don’t like what we see, we can choose to look at it another way. What do you think about that?

Let me give you an example. I have this fabulous woman as patient who had the misfortune of getting a chronic degenerative illness that took her from her high powered job as a chief financial officer (CFO) of a large company. (By the way, I asked her if I could share her story anonymously and she said yes.) As you can imagine this was quite distressing to her on many different levels. But this woman, she has an amazing spirit of survival. When we talked about taking a new perspective, looking at the gifts and lessons that could be gained out of this seemingly tragic situation, she went looking. Several months later she came back to me with a smile on her face and told me that she is now the CMO, “Chief Mommy Officer”, and that she is extremely happy with this role, as is her family. In addition, she told me with an even bigger smile, that her aging parents had moved into her home to help her and for her to help them. Generations supporting one another during times of difficulty. Through this situation of terrific illness, loss, and transition, a whole new way of life had emerged. But it didn’t just emerge magically. It emerged with intent to make a valuable change and with an awareness that she had a choice to make. To be certain, she had to first go through grief over the tremendous loss she experienced, but in this process she was able to examine the filter through which she had looked at the world. With this new awareness she was now free to choose her perspective. Life had handed her a difficulty, but she chose her response.

You have that freedom too, you know. Here’s the litmus test. If you are feeling unhappy or constrained in your life ask yourself, what is it that I am saying to myself right now about my current situation. Then ask yourself what might be a more helpful thing to say. The answer might be obvious or it might not. The most important thing is allowing yourself to recognize that you could look at the situation differently if you chose. And if you choose, you free yourself to enjoy or at least learn from your experience, no matter how difficult it is. You step out of the victim’s seat and into the drivers seat…right back into controlling your own destiny. I’m not talking about being a PollyAnna and pretending things are wonderful when they are not. We need to be honest with ourselves. But we need to remember that good and bad exist simultaneously. So that when something difficult occurs, we can choose to what aspect we want to focus on.

Sometimes we forget that how we look at things makes all the difference. We get stuck in habitual patterns of thinking. What’s that they say? Habits are meant to be broken? So take a look. What perspective do you want to take?

Be happy and well,
Sari Roth-Roemer

Sometimes life just hands us a big plate of yuck. Even those of us with Pollyanna tendencies have to admit that sometimes life is hard. The problem is, as much as we know this to be true, in our heart of hearts most of us wish it wasn’t. We wish life could be easy, at least most of the time. So when the tough stuff comes, as it always does, often we worry, we fear the worst, we feel we have no control, we project ourselves into negative future outcomes. And we forget. We forget to have faith in ourselves. We forget that there is more than one way to look at a situation. We forget that there are valuable lessons to be learned from the obstacles that sometimes block our path. Why? It’s habit of course. We worry to try to feel in control again, but ironically, this worry pulls us right out of control by placing us in a future that has not yet occurred and that we have no control over.

So what can we do about it? Be aware. Pay attention. Be mindful of our thoughts and our behavior. And in this act of present focus we can begin to see that we have a choice. Our fate is not predetermined. We have control over our thoughts and behavior in the now. And it is what we do now that will propel us to the future we desire. And in this simple act of anchoring ourselves to the present moment we regain our power and our ability to direct our course. We can be aware of the choices that are available to us and we can choose wisely, not reflexively. And no matter how rough it gets, when we remind ourselves that we will get through, that we are capable, that there are blessings around us and valuable lessons to be learned, we open a doorway for forward movement and problem solving. Whereas when we focus on our fears and tell ourselves we can’t possibly get through it, we slam that same door shut. So what’s the trick? Believe in yourself and your ability to cope. Know that you are supported by your faith in the universe and higher power that exists beyond you. You are not alone. And in that knowing you will feel the support that is there for you, even in your darkest of times. Listen to that inner voice inside you. It may take some time. But if you are patient, and tell yourself the answer will come, just as it always does, it will. It’s worth giving it a try anyhow isn’t it?

Be happy and well,
Sari Roth-Roemer

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