My Yearly Letter to J

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom is by Miguel Ruiz.

There seems to be a theme of writing letters to those who’ve hurt you in order to heal oneself. If you could say anything to people from your past who have hurt you, what would you say? The last letter I wrote to those who hurt me followed the four principles detailed below. I hope you and those involved in hurting anyone read it and take it to heart. Because I think these are all important points to remember as we live out our lives in the present moment each and every day.

The First Agreement: Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Write when you’re upset to keep from angry feelings bottling up. Write when you’re happy to share good news and fantastic blessings received. Write to express oneself, completely and fully, because one can’t always get the words out verbally but can in written form. If you’re not a writer, find you’re creative outlet to let it out. It could be painting, drawing, dancing, coloring in a coloring book, etc. It doesn’t matter how you let it out so long as you do what you can to heal yourself.

Never speak ill or gossip about others, whether you feel they’ve hurt you (or someone you care about) or not. Why would you speak ill about someone you barely know? Why would one choose to speak negatively about someone simply because you dislike them? Disliking someone is one thing, negatively gossiping about them due to that dislike is rude and disrespectful. Especially when you’ve no idea what personal hell they may be going through, causing them to act and react in the way they do to things.

The Second Agreement:  Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

Gossip leads to more gossip, more hurt and unexpected betrayals. Best to refrain completely, and remove yourself from any situations that cause you to hear unwanted gossip. Always remember the people you’re gossiping about are people. Human beings with their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Would you really like it if someone was saying those same words about you, to describe you, to other people? Would you still speak those same words?

The Third Agreement: Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

People have bad days, make poor choices, make mistakes. That doesn’t mean that is who they are at their very core and it is shameful to hold a single bad day, a single mistake against anyone. Including yourself. The person you knew a year, two years, three years ago (etc.) is not the same person sitting next to you now. The person you were a year ago is not the same person you see in the mirror now. People learn, change and grow from their mistakes. Let them and don’t assume they’re going to make the same mistakes they did before if you’ve chosen not to speak or see them in a very long period of time. You don’t know them anymore, and possibly never really did. That includes looking yourself in the mirror, reminding yourself of how you’ve learned, how you’ve changed, and how you’ve grown since your largest mistake, your biggest regret in life up to now.

The Fourth Agreement: Always do your best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Perhaps that biggest regret, largest mistake one made was during a period of deep hurt and emotional pain that you are unaware of. A person is not going to react to the same situation in the same manner if they’re in a better state emotionally and mentally. Allow someone the time and space to get healthier mentally and emotionally, without abandonment. You’ll be surprised at how much their best attempt at not repeating the same mistakes is when they are in a healthier state of mind, how resilient they are, and you’ll likely see those results much quicker if you choose to support them in getting help, in getting better. Humans are incredibly resilient beings and many people are stronger than you may be aware of. Sometimes, all it takes is one special person to believe in them and that one special person should be yourself.

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Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are.
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Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.

The 100 Days of Happiness Challenge

Challenge Overview

The challenge from 100happydays.com is simple: post a picture of something that makes you happy each day for 100 days in a row. The pictures do not have to be posted publicly. A key to remember during this challenge is that it’s for you, personally, not to please others.

Why I Participated

I wanted to find out for myself if I could do it, for one. I also wanted to challenge myself to find something that made me, individually, happy everyday after struggling with a few heavy depression episodes over the last two years following a disastrously messy breakup.

Lessons Learned

This was an eye-opening challenge for me. I rediscovered pieces of myself that I’d hidden away due to fear. I reminded myself of things I have that I need to remember to be grateful for and appreciate more. I learned of new opportunities and experiences to look forward to in the coming years. The biggest lesson I learned, though, and the lesson I hope everyone learns when taking up this challenge is learning to love yourself. Because how can you possibly expect to love others, entirely, if you don’t know how to love yourself first?

Participant Experience

The first thing I did as a participant in this challenge was deactivate my Facebook account. I have no desire to reactivate the account, not that I recall my password if I did desire to do so. I also quickly decided that anything I posted on Instagram, I wanted to be sure it was something that made me happy, and wasn’t me clinging to someone or something related to past moments long gone. Also, have you ever fully realized just how rampant negativity is on Facebook?!

The first week or so without Facebook was a bit of an adjustment. I’d gotten into a nasty habit of browsing it for hours at a time, and wasn’t sure what to do with all this free time I suddenly had. After re-organizing a bookshelf, I rediscovered some journals and books to finish (or start). I got out in nature, going for walks to clear my mind when stress started to build. I picked up forgotten cross-stitching projects, and painted while catching up on television.

Still, I would find times where I didn’t know what to do with myself. That quickly dissipated as a family member passed away in October and our family was evicted from our home in November. It was incredibly challenging to fight the temptation to give up, curl into a ball and break down in self-pity with all of that going on. And while I did cry and grieve, I found myself committed to this challenge of 100 Happy Days, and still found something to post each day. One lesson I learned from all of this was that sadness is inevitable. It’s crazy to think and even pretend that one is completely happy at every single moment —  that’s just not possible. You can either give in to the sadness, and let it completely destroy you, or you can allow it to make you stronger.

I chose to look for the positive even in the bad. How could I possibly learn and grow from this pain instead of allowing it to consume me? I found the answer to that question in little things that ended up posted in a photo on Instagram. Something as simple as treating myself to a favorite drink or relaxing in a bubble bath helped remind me of little things I still have to be grateful for and appreciate.

This challenge was a perfect way to end the year for me. I have no plans of redoing this challenge right away, but I may mark the date on my calendar to end each year with this challenge. Thoughts? Have you ever taken on this type of challenge? Would you ever consider doing it (or redoing it)?