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Making a better life is challenging.  You may be doing everything right.  You are living in the moment, appreciating the things you have and making small changes towards reaching your goals.  However, you can still feel like you are walking against the tide.  On those days, there will occasionally be setbacks.  You may slip into old habits or have an emotional meltdown.  It is OK. It happens.  It is part of the process.  Just like someone who is attempting to eat healthier may have an entire tub of ice cream after a particularly trying day, you may hit a similar stumbling block.

We are human.  We are fallible.  Self improvement is an ongoing journey for the rest of your life.  Each day and each moment,  you have a choice.  Now and then you might indulge the three year old inside that has a temper tantrum when things do not go as planned.  Alternatively, you may step back, take a deep breath and focus on how to solve the problem.  Just because one day you make a poor decision does not mean you are bound to that course of action every time.  Unless that is your choice.  When you become disappointed with your behavior, forgive the transgression and allow yourself another chance.

As a parent it is easy to forgive your child for their mistakes.  While learning to pour from a carton, you do not chastise them for spilling the milk.  While learning to walk, you do not insult them when they fall.  Apply this principle to yourself.  We are all learning how to be better people.  Be kind to yourself when you have a bad day. Forgive yourself for succumbing to your emotions or being angry at your circumstances.  Forgive yourself for falling into old patterns which have been established over many years.  Successful change occurs when you take responsibility for your choices and make better decisions next time.  Reflect on how you feel when you overreact or over indulge.  You will notice that these actions are counterproductive.  In addition, you feel bad about yourself which increases the distress.

PL 6 knife webWhen you take this attitude with yourself, you will find it easier to apply it to others in your life as well.  This is essential to improve relationships in your life.  Learning to forgive yourself will help you understand how important it is to give those around you another chance to redeem themselves.

Truth be told, I have a horrible temper.  I am Portuguese and as a culture we often scream, shout and flail our arms over just about anything.  I know the Italians get all the glory when it comes to hot blooded reactions but believe me, you do not want to get caught in the wrath of a Portuguese woman either, it is not pretty.  That being said, I had to put this temper in check.  It is exhausting to fly off the handle and as I mentioned before, it does not accomplish anything.  However, sometimes it is cathartic.  Before indulging myself in an outburst I try to ask myself the question “why am I upset?”  The answer is not as obvious as it may seem.  When someone hurts you, it may be that you are disappointed that they did not meet your expectations.  Perhaps something did not go as you had hoped and you are disillusioned because of your fear of failure.  If you analyze the root of your anger you often will encounter that it is because of your presumption of the outcome and has very little to do with any circumstance or person involved.

It is natural to be annoyed when things do not go as planned.  How you decide to express your aggravation is the key to improving your life.  Call a friend.  Call a psychologist. Talk to the person with whom you are having an issue and make it clear that you are not mad at them but you need to vent.  It is ok to tell someone that you are upset by their actions without insulting them.  Whether it is your spouse, your children or a friend, it is important that you communicate your fears and disappointment without making them responsible for your state of mind.  This will improve your relationship because you can be honest and forthcoming without causing them to feel like they have to defend themselves.

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Whether it is the extra piece of cake you had at a friend’s wedding, losing your temper with a loved one or letting an opportunity slip by because of fear, forgive yourself.   Apply this philosophy to anyone in your life who may have a setback.  Each time you forgive, you will be moving one step closer to peace within and happiness in your life.