Guest Post by David Litwack

Please enjoy this guest post by David Litwack, author of the gripping contemporary novel, Along the Watchtower, and the deep, dark dystopia, There Comes a Prophet. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

 

The Virtual World of Gaming and the Plight of War Veterans: A Guest Post by David Litwack

 

Gaming and war would seem to be as far apart from each other as you can get. But while you’re in the midst of them, they share one thing in common—a sense of being in an alternate reality.

I’ve always been fascinated by how much of what we consider to be reality is subjective, how each of us bring our own experiences and biases into play. But when we’re ripped from our normal lives and placed in extreme circumstances, our reality becomes totally fragmented. Such is the case with hospitals and war.

A couple of years ago, I became engrossed in the online game, World of Warcraft, thanks to my son. I’m on the east coast and he’s on the west, so we’d meet every Wednesday evening in the virtual world of Azeroth, where our avatars would go on quests together. I was struck by how immersed I became in the mood of the game as we wandered through castles and crypts, solving riddles and vanquishing demons, how for a short period of time, I could totally buy in to the alternate reality.

The fantasy gaming experience has a dream-like quality to it, which led me to wonder: how would this experience affect the dreams of someone whose reality has been fragmented by the trauma of war? These concepts—war, hospitals, and the fantasy world of online gaming—came together in Along the Watchtower.

I began to research the effects of war on returning veterans. I learned that 30% are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress. That means after six months they’re still dealing with flashbacks, disturbing dreams, depression and difficulty re-assimilating into their former lives. And that doesn’t account for the many others who are seemingly able to adjust but continue to deal with inner turmoil. The war experience changes all forever. Many have suicidal thoughts (the suicide rate among veterans is triple that of the general population. More soldiers have died by their own hand than in the war itself). Many struggle with dark thoughts and have difficulty forming relationships, unable to “turn off” the normal flight or fight syndrome, leaving them suspicious in crowds and always on alert.

And then, there are the physical injuries. One of the ironic successes of these recent wars is the advance in battlefield medicine. The result is that far fewer die of wounds than in prior wars. The ratio of wounded to dead in WWII was 1.1/1, in Vietnam 1.7/1. In Iraq, it’s 7/1. More are saved, but more come home with debilitating, lifelong injuries. And 68% of the wounded have some form or brain trauma, penetrating injuries from shrapnel or non-penetrating concussions from the blasts of IEDs.

To learn more about brain injuries, I read In an Instant, the story of Bob Woodruff. The brilliant Woodruff had just been named co-anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight. Then, while embedded with the military in Iraq, an improvised explosive device went off near the tank he was riding in. Bob suffered a traumatic brain injury that nearly killed him. The book describes his recovery and recounts how fragile the human brain can be. At one point, the erudite Woodruff could rattle off the names of all prior U.S. presidents but couldn’t remember the names of his own children.

And I read about post traumatic stress. One of the best books is Achilles in Vietnam. Written by Jonathan Shay, a Vietnam War era PTSD counselor, it compares his clinical notes from patients to the text from Homer’s Odyssey, showing how we as human beings have dealt with war trauma across the millennia. He shows how war disrupts our moral compass, leaving re-entry into normal life as a brutal and agonizing experience.

Playing a make-believe fantasy game and going to war both have a surreal quality that takes us out of our normal reality. But for war veterans, the sense of normality doesn’t return without a struggle.

The Wounded Warrior Project is a wonderful organization, dedicated to helping veterans adjust. Their stated mission is: “To foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.” How successful we’ll be at achieving that goal will tell a lot about who we are. It’s one of the most important stories of our time.

 

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, both Along the Watchtower and There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack are on sale this week. What’s more, by purchasing either or both of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Pick up Along the Watchtower at its discounted price of $2.99 on Amazon
  2. Get There Comes a Prophet at its discounted price of 99 cents
  3. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  4. Visit the featured social media events
  5. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.

Along the Watchtower tells of a tragic warrior lost in two worlds; a woman who may be his only way back from Hell. Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

There Comes a Prophet A thousand years ago the Darkness came—a time of violence and social collapse. Nathaniel has grown up in their world of limits, longing for something more. For what are we without dreams? Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.

David Litwack, the once and future writer, explores the blurry line between reality and the Visit David on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Life

Editors Note:  This is Melissa’s post for the week.  I am working on a new button for this feature and I hope to have it ready for next week!  Enjoy!

 
Life has a way of making us feel down, if we allow it, and we often do. Sometimes a friend or a loved one disappoints us. Our life circumstances are not the way we want them to be and we let it get to us. A stressful day at work or at home can lead us down the path of not having a positive outlook. It is perfectly normal to feel let down, sad, and even depressed when we encounter any of those circumstances. Those kinds of things have a way of throwing us off balance and sometimes we need to take some time to realign our thinking. Unfortunately, many of us have a habit of dwelling on those negative circumstances for far longer than we should, and we can become overwhelmed with negative thoughts and emotions.
For the sake of ourselves and our relationships, we should not allow that to happen. For those of us with a high risk for entering a depressive episode, dwelling on negative thoughts and emotions can be a trigger. Even for people without that risk have been known to enter a depressive episode if they spend too much time concentrating on the negatives in their life. At the very least, spending so much time dwelling on the negative can make us cranky, irritable and difficult to live with.
There are things we can do to turn our negative thoughts around. It requires work and effort, but the pay off is well worth it. If we take the time to turn our negative thoughts around, we are often more productive at resolving an undesirable situation. We are able to obtain more clarity about a situation and with clarity comes the ability to make a plan. If a situation is beyond our ability to change, then the clarity can show us that, and allow us to come to terms with it. It can also show us ways we can change our reactions, giving us more choices on how we manage situations that are beyond our control to change.
One of the first things we should do when realigning our thinking from an overwhelming negative thought process to one of that is more positive and productive, is decide if the situation is something that we can obtain control over or not. Once we make that determination, then we can start the process of either implementing a plan to change the situation or implementing a plan to change our reaction. Just getting that process done can be a huge stress reliever, because either option allows us to take some action. For most people, the ability to take some sort of action, immediately makes them feel more positive, and productive.
If the situation is one that we do have the power to change, we need to start figuring out what change we want to take place, and what steps we need to take to get there. For example, if we feel lonely and out of touch with people, we might want to take steps to be more available. We can do this by participating in volunteer activities in our communities, call friends, family, or acquaintances rather than wait for them to call us. We can make plans to have coffee, dessert, or a meal with someone. We could also use the internet to make new or improve social connections. Just because a friendship only takes place online does not negate the positive impact it can have on a life.
If we feel overwhelmed at work, is it because of poor organization on our part or is it a result of poor organization on someone else’s part? In either case there are things we can do. If we are the ones who are disorganized, then we need to do the necessary things to change that.. If it is someone else creating the dis-organization, maybe we could offer to help them to become more organized. If they let us help them accomplish this, then we are helping ourselves at the same time we are helping them. If work is overwhelming and there is nothing we can do about it, maybe if we found ways to be grateful it might help keep our thinking more positive. We could be grateful that we have a job with the way the economy is now. Or we could be grateful that work is so busy, because it might mean we have a little more job security than if it were slow all of the time.
There are always going to be situations where there is absolutely nothing we can do to change it. If we try and control a situation that is beyond our ability to control, then we are always going to feel upset, disappointed and frustrated by it. That means we have the obligation to change our reaction it. In the case of a friend disappointing us, we might need to decide if it is something we can overlook and live with, or if it is something we should bring up to our friend, or if what happened is a “deal breaker”. All of those situations require us to react in a different way than we might normally.
Sometimes people do stupid, hurtful things without meaning to. When that happens they usually realize it after the fact. Would saying anything to the friend cause them more pain and shame, than they are already feeling? Or would it be better to just let things go, and allow everyone to move on? Many times, letting it go is the best reaction in that type of situation. If the friend is unaware of how their actions hurt us, then we should say something to them. Then it is up to them to make the choice to apologize and alter their own behavior or not. Rarely, but it happens, we will have a friend that hurts us so bad that it can be considered a “deal breaker” – something that requires the end of the friendship. When that happens, we should take the time to bring it to their attention and make them aware of the impact it had on us. If, after that conversation they either do not understand or care about the pain they caused, it is time for us to remove that person from our lives. Not to be mean to them, but to protect our own mental health.
Some people find prayer very effective, especially in regards to situations and circumstances they have no control over. For them, it removes the worry from their own shoulders and thoughts, and gives them to God – who is much more capable of handing things than we are. Just the act of turning things over to God is comforting because it is another way we can change how we react to things. It is peaceful and comforting to know that we are not burdened by those things any longer. That peace and comfort allows us to no longer feel frustrated and angry about things we have no control over.
Life happens. It happens in all its glory and pain. It is up to us to make the choices to prevent life from overwhelming us. We have the ability to make those choices, some of us just have to learn how to.

Letting Go Of Loneliness

 
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” 
~ Mother Teresa~

Feeling lonely is awful. I think it is even worse when we are around people and still feel as if we are alone. Usually, it is not the fault of the people around us that we feel that way. Most of the time we are the ones responsible for it. It occurs because of mental and emotional walls we have put up. While we may believe that we have a good reason for creating those walls, it does not take away the loneliness they create.

Often we erect our mental and emotional walls to protect ourselves. We may have started the habit with the best of intentions and in the beginning only used our psychological barriers with certain people. However, we quickly figure out how easy it is to do this any time we feel we are in a situation where we might feel uncomfortable. Eventually, this habit feels so comfortable that we spend all of our time behind our walls. Not only does this prevent people from entering our lives, it prevents us from entering theirs. Leaving us alone behind our walls. What started off as a form of protection, becomes our prison.

Since we are the ones responsible for our loneliness, we have to be the ones responsible for making that feeling go away. That means letting go of the barriers that are keeping us emotionally separated from other people. This is a scary process. Not only are we getting rid of something that has become comfortable to us, we are also allowing ourselves to become vulnerable for the first time in a long while. Fortunately, there are things we can do to make this process a bit easier.

1. Acknowledge what feelings you might be trying to hide. Figure out the origin of those feelings. If they are the result of what someone did to you, are you still angry about it? Letting go of anger is difficult, but it is an important part of breaking down our emotional walls. You can talk about them with someone, or write them out.

2. Be honest with yourself and with other people. If someone asks you how you are doing and you say fine, when you really are not, then you are not being honest. You are also denying someone the opportunity to provide you with support.

3. Trust yourself and other people. For people to earn your trust you have to give them a chance. Trust yourself to know who the right people to place your trust in.

4. Take a few chances. Step out from behind your wall – step out of your comfort zone. You will find that if you can push your limits here and there that you will enjoy life more. The more positive experiences you have when you are not behind your emotional wall, the easier it becomes to resist the urge to put it back up.

5. Be patient with yourself. You did have a good reason to create your wall, and you have lived with it for years. It will take some time before you feel comfortable taking it down completely. Think of each baby step you take as you removing another brick or two from your wall.

I have found that as I have let my own emotional walls down, I get a great deal more enjoyment out of life. Being honest about my feelings and my needs has made me feel as if I have to protect myself less than I used to. I am less stressed because I am not always on the look out for who I have to protect myself from. It also has allowed me to create a different type of social network than I used to have, one that is more positive and encouraging.

A Friend For Me

 
A friend is one who believes in you when you have ceased to believe in yourself

Friendship is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. At first I thought about friendship in a negative way. As in, why do I feel like I am one of the few women I know who does not have a best friend? Even when I was growing up, I did not have a best friend until I was in high school. For many reasons, that friendship ended long ago. At one time in my life, I thought that having a best friend was something that was absolutely necessary for someone to have a complete life. I was envious of all those women I saw who had a BFF.

I used to think if only I was more sociable – less of a loner – then I would develop that forever friendship with someone. I worked hard at it to. The results were less than desirable. It seemed like the more I tried, and the more emotionally invested I became, the more disappointed I was when that person could not live up to the extremely high expectations I had of them.

Something has dawned on me lately. If my friendship needs are being met by several wonderful women, where is it written that I have to have that best friend I coveted for so long? I realized after some personal struggles over the last few weeks that there are several women in my life who fulfill that BFF role. Each one has qualities that I admire, wisdom that they share, and a caring heart that shows in everything they do. Each one has different personalities, experiences, and quirks. Combine them all together and they make the ultimate best friend.

My point is this, if you are anything like me and feel that you are lacking something socially, take stock of who you have in your life. Maybe together, they make that complete person that you are looking for.

When Your Support System Fails

Editors note: This is Melissa post for this week.  Her post last week was just what I needed to hear and I am so glad I have her in my life!  She has gotten me through rough times even though she doesn’t even know that she has!  As always enjoy!

I believe having an emotional support system is extremely important. No matter who you are, what your state of mind is, or even how emotionally healthy or unhealthly you are. Our emotional support systems often act as an anchor. Keeping us grounded when we are not at our best. Lifting us up when we are down in the dumps and sad. Bringing us the comfort and encouragement we so often seem to need.

Support systems come in all shapes and sizes, they can be found in our real lives and in our internet lives. No matter where we find our support or who we find our support in, the general purpose is the same. Its members are there to help us, provide us with encouragement, and show us tough love when we need it.

The biggest problem with our emotional support systems is that they are filled with people. Real. Live. Human.Beings. Who are imperfect, have their own struggles, misunderstandings, and often built in judgments and excuses. Because of this, they will fail us. Not might fail us, they WILL fail us.

They fail us when they do not notice we are struggling. They fail us when they lack the proper words to encourage us. They fail us when they are going through their own struggles and do not have enough emotional reserve for us. They fail us just because. When the people in our support systems fail us, it hurts. Sometimes it can even be a devastating pain. It is extremely difficult to not become angry. Especially, when some of those people are in our own family.

Before we get angry at anyone in our support system – including family – we need to ask ourselves if we have always been there for them – in the capacity they have needed – when they have needed it. I do not think that any one of us can truthfully say that we have been. We are human too, and are prone to the same faults that the people we rely on are. I am not saying that because we have not always been there when they needed us that it negates the pain they have caused. What I am saying is we should try to examine why someone has not supported us the way we have needed. It is very likely that at the time we needed them, they were involved in their own emotional doings and simply did not realize that we needed them.
So….What do we do now?
Just like most everything else in life, we have choices. When can choose to be angry, or we can choose to get over it. Since I hate the way being angry makes me feel, I try and go for the “get over it” option. There are a list of things I do, to try and move past the hurt that I am feeling.

  1. I try and figure out why a person or people in my support system may have failed me. Maybe they have something going on that interfered with their ability to be there in the way I needed.
  2. I try to understand and realize that there may have been times when I have failed them. Understand that they may have been hurt by it or are even angry about it. As a result they may feel hesitant to get involved in what I have going on.
  3. If I realize someone in my support system is going through their own emotional/mental/physical turmoil at the same time I am, I try and support them rather than have them be there for me. Sometimes taking my concentration off of myself and my own troubles helps me more than waiting for someone to be there for me.
  4. Especially when I feel that a family member has failed to meet my needs, I express it. For example, my husband and I have worked out a code phrase when we need to express something with one another, but at the same time do not want to upset the other person. It simply is “I need to express a frustration.” When one of us says that the other knows to not take personally what is about to be said. We have found it a good way to tell each other when we need more than what the other person has been giving us.
  5. Sometimes no matter what I do to understand, and even support the person I need support from, they are just not in a place to help me. When that occurs, I reach out. I have even been known to reach out to someone I may not have considered a part of my support system. Each and every time I have reached out, there has been someone there encouraging me and building me up. That person becomes part of my emotional support system.
  6. As sad and difficult as it can be, there are times when I have to remove someone from the group of people I have chosen to be a part of my support system. That does not mean I know longer talk to them, or are their friend, it means that I fully realize that for whatever reason they cannot provide me with what I need, and it is time to let that part of my attachment to them go. It does not have to be permanent, in many cases it is only until they get through whatever they are going through.

Just because our emotional support systems will fail us, does not mean we have to be discouraged by it. We can use it as an opportunity to learn how to better be there for the people in our lives. We can use it to create a better support system for ourselves.

You can find me and more of my posts at Sugar Filled Emotions

Inspiration

This is Melissa’s post for this week.  She asked me not to read it until I posted it.  So I am not sure what it is about but I am sure it is good.  Enjoy!

Written by Melissa Mashburn of Sugar Filled Emotions

Most of the time when I write, my primary goal is to write about something that I find inspiring. Once I put it all down, I can only hope that my readers find it as inspiring as I do. Today’s post is really no different, except instead of writing about a topic or idea that I find inspiring, I am going to say a few things about a person I find inspiring.

You inspire me because not only do you have to live with all the normal day to day struggles that we all have, you also have some unique physical challenges that you could use justify a life of inactivity. Instead you do the opposite. You make no excuses. You do what you can, which is often more than what someone with a healthy body would/could do.

You are one of the kindest people I know. No matter how you feel, you have a kind word for me.

You are a shining example of strength in the face of difficulties. I admire your courage.

You have such a giving spirit. You are quick to make sure the people around you are doing okay.

You are a beautiful person, inside and out!

for being my friend. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life! Thank you for allowing me to post on your blog.

Love Letters By Melissa

Love Letters To Yourself

In a previous guest post I briefly mentioned writing love notes to yourself, something I like to do. I find that writing myself love notes is a wonderful way to keep myself motivated and feeling good about myself. Love notes do not have to be long, just a few short words on a post-it-note are just as valuable as writing a long letter to myself.

There are times though, when only a long letter will do. Not just a long letter, but something like how people used to write letters long ago. Letters containing pressed flowers, smelling of perfume or having lovely pictures. Even writing them with a fancy pen that is only reserved for my special letters. It is all about making myself feel good and taking care of myself. I like to save these letters. Pulling them out when I need to hear special, loving words.

I believe that no one knows better what I need to hear to build me up than myself. These letters do that when, for whatever reason, my family cannot fill that need for me.

You never want the letter writing to yourself to become a chore, something you feel like you have to do, so don’t do it very often. It is about loving yourself, showing yourself compassion, not one more thing in the long list of things that you must do. Don’t get bogged down in using proper grammar, or punctuation, or making it perfect. It is about love, not about perfection.

Make the time that you take to write these letters to yourself special. If you find that you cannot get time alone during the day to do this, try it after the rest of your family goes to bed. Play some soft music, light a few candles, take some time and clear your mind before you get started. Think about the wonderful things you want to say. If you cannot do all that, you can still make that time special by putting some pressed flowers in your letter, decorating the envelope, even putting inspirational pictures from magazines and photographs in it. You could crush some fragrant herbs and put them in, or include your own drawings (even if they are only stick figures). Write some quotes on little slips of paper and stick those in as well.

Start your letters off with terms of endearment, like “Dear” and then put as much love and compassion into the letter to yourself as you can. Write it to someone you love dearly. As difficult as it might be, do your best to not write it in the first person. An example of this is:

Dear Melissa,

You are a wonderful person. I love how strong and self confident you are. You are a beautiful, inside and out. I value you. I admire the compassion you showed to those hurting people today. (and just keep going)

In your letters to yourself you could write about your good qualities, something you did that you are proud of, and things that bring you love and joy. Write about a walk you took, or a special time you spent with another person. You could write about something loving another person did or said to you. Use your imagination, write only about the things that build you up.

You can write your letter all at one time, or take a whole month to write it, adding bits and pieces here and there. Do it the way that works best for you.

On your hard days, on those days when you are hurting and your self worth has taken a blow, pull out your love letters to remind yourself what a wonderful person you are. Read them all, or read only one, whatever it takes to heal your hurting heart.

If you decide to try writing a love letter to yourself, I would enjoy hearing about it. Only as much as you feel comfortable sharing.

Written by Melissa Mashburn of Sugar Filled Emotions

Suicide Prevention Week By Melissa

Editors note:  This is Melissa Friday post but because she had a suicide death in the family last weekend she is just getting to it now.  Please read this because maybe we can save some peoples lives.
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September 5, 2010 through September 11, 2010 is National Suicide Prevention Week. World Suicide Day is September 10th.
I know this is a different type of subject matter than what I have written about in previous guest posts, however, this is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. I realize that it sounds rather strange for someone to say that suicide prevention is a cause near and dear to their heart, but that is how I feel about it. At one time in my life, I really did not think about how important it was to talk about it. All of that changed after my second suicide attempt and a stay in a psychiatric hospital. As my mind began to heal, and I began to reach out more and more to people all across the world, I realized that suicide is a topic that people are extremely hesitant to discuss.
It is something we should discuss. Each year the suicide rate increases. As the amount of attempts goes up so does the number of people who die by suicide. Suicide affects people of all walks of life, gender, age and race. From teenagers to the Elderly and everyone in between, they all usually have one thing in common. An untreated mental illness/mental health issue. In many instances that untreated illnesses is Severe/Major Depression.
Would you know if someone you loved was at risk for suicide? Would you know what signs to look for? People do not always talk about their desire to die by suicide, nor do they always give away their personal effects when they are thinking about taking their own life. I know many people believe that someone on the verge of suicide would do those things, but in many instances of death by suicide the family is caught off guard because their loved one did not display those particular signs. Unfortunately, they did not know how to look for others.
I knew I wanted to kill myself. So I very carefully, as much as possible, avoided anything that would give my family any clue that I was in so much trouble. I did not talk about death or suicide. I did not give away any of my possessions, I did not even leave any kind of suicide note. If my family had known about other things to look for, they would have seen the signs of what was going on in my head that I could not cover up.
Some things to look for that might be warning signs that someone is at risk for suicide:

  • Appearing depressed or sad most of the time. This was the biggest clue I exhibited and could not hide.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends. This is also something I did that I could not hide.
  • Losing interest in most activities. Hobbies and just keeping the house in order were things I was no longer interested in. I could not hide this.
  • Dramatic Mood Changes. I had two moods, sad or angry. It was impossible for me to hide this.
  • A change in sleeping patterns. For most of my depression, I slept too much. As it came closer to the time that I attempted suicide, I barely slept at all.

This is by no means a complete list of the warning signs that someone would display. If you were to do a Google search for “suicide warning signs” you would find many more lists that are much more complete. What I listed were warning signs that would be difficult or impossible for someone to hide. Things to look for and to pay particular attention to.

Anyone and everyone is at risk for developing a mental illness/mental health issue. Some people are at a higher risk because of family history, or a history of other chronic health conditions. There is no immunization to guard against mental illness. There is no magic pill that would prevent someone from developing a mental health issue. Which means anyone and everyone could potentially be at risk for suicide.

I believe that knowledge gives us power. By knowing what to look for we are being responsible parents, spouses, children, siblings, friends, and etc. to the people we love. It gives us the power to help. Never tell yourself that death by suicide or a suicide attempt is something that would never happen to someone you love. My family thought that, and were surprised to learn that they were wrong.

Guest Post Friday

 

Resentment or grudges do no harm to the person against whom you hold these feelings but every day and every night of your life, they are eating at you”
Norman Vincent Peale

Have you ever experienced hurt or pain because of the actions or words of another? If you have, you know that often these wounds leave us feeling angry, and bitter. If those wounds were inflicted when we were children, we often carry those feelings around with us for years and years. We end up paying a higher price than the person who hurt us, because the anger and bitterness invades every part of our lives. Instead of feeling optimistic and happy, we feel anger, are upset, and depressed. Instead of looking at the positive, wonderful things that surround us daily, we focus on how we were wronged. With so much focus on how badly we were treated, it becomes very difficult for us to find contentment and peace.

Wonderful changes can take place in your life if you can learn to let go of your grudges.

  • Healthier relationships. You will be able to develop relationships that are not clouded by negativity. (I have a better relationship with my family than I ever had before.)
  • You mind and soul will become healthier.
  • Because of not being so angry all the time, you will feel less stress and anxiety.
  • If you have to take blood pressure medicine, you may be able to stop, because your blood pressure will come down.
  • You will have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, and in some cases less chronic pain. (I had serious problems with irritable bowel syndrome and gastroparisis. My symptoms have almost completely gone away since I have let go of my anger and bitterness.)
  • With less mental pain, there will be less feelings of needing to self medicate. This will lower any chances of alcohol or drug abuse.
There are things we can do to let go of our feelings of anger and bitterness.
  • Make a commitment to yourself to work on forgiving the person/s who harmed you.
  • Recognize the value of forgiveness and how it can positively affect your life.
  • Take some time to reflect on the facts of the situation, your reaction and how they have affected your life, your health and well being.
  • When you believe you are ready, actively choose to forgive the person who wronged you.
  • Move away from being the victim and release the control and power that the person who harmed you has had in your life

As you let go of your feelings of anger and bitterness you will find that you no longer define your life by how you have been harmed.

I know it is not easy to find forgiveness for people who have deeply hurt us. I know that some wrongs against us are harder to let go of than others. I know that sometimes we need help to let things go. In no way, do I want to make it appear that this process is easy, or make light of it in any way. The truth is we must let these things go, even if it takes years for us to accomplish this. I can tell you from my own experience, that once I was able to let go of my anger and bitterness my life changed drastically for the better.
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Guest Post Friday

Editors Note:  Melissa is an amazing person.  I have gone through some of the things she has and her blog really helps out.   It helps me see that I am not the only one that goes through what I am going through.  This post today funny enough is something I need to hear and yet I just asked her to write about whatever she wanted to write about.  I invited her to post once a week if she feels up to it so this is her first post!  I hope you all enjoy her as much as I do!
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Since this is my first time guest posting over here, I thought I would introduce myself. My name is Melissa Mashburn and I blog over at Sugar Filled Emotions. I am very excited about Margaret giving me the opportunity to guest post on her site. I have gotten to know her on Twitter and my life is that much more blessed by having her in it.

“Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.”

Wilfred Peterson


The most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself. Most of us have heard something similar to this at some point in our lives. Yet, how seriously did we actually take it? I know I gave little to no thought to the notion of loving myself for most of my life.

What does it actually mean to love yourself? I believe that loving yourself is not really so much of a feeling as it is a decrease in self doubt, self loathing, and unforgiveness of yourself. Loving yourself means that you take your well being seriously. Doing the necessary and practical things that you need to do to take care of yourself.

It seems simple. Yet, so many of us find it so difficult. We are hard on ourselves. We dislike who we are. We do not think we are worthy of anything good, and we find it impossible to forgive ourselves, even when we have done nothing wrong. When we have a poor relationship with ourselves it taints our other relationships.

People who have a healthy amount of love for themselves usually have certain characteristics:

  • They tend to focus on feeling good.
  • They allow themselves to feel happy and enjoy sharing it with other people
  • They treat themselves well.
  • They do not allow others to mistreat them.
  • They are caring and supportive of others, because it makes them feel good too.
  • They put themselves first so they can better take care of family and friends.
  • They find a quote, motto or thought that resonates with them and practice it. (I made my own personal motto)
  • They allow themselves to succeed.

Developing love for yourself can start with something as simple as having the intention (desire) to love yourself more. However, at some point after you gain that desire, it will become necessary to follow it up with some action. It does not have to be anything big or drastic. In my opinion, baby steps work the best, especially if you are anything like me and have spent the better part of your life not loving yourself.

One of the first things I did when I was learning how to love myself was to take some pictures of myself to share with others. For the last few years, I have hated how I looked. I disliked having any pictures taken of me, and there was no way I would post an accurate picture of myself even on Facebook. I thought I was clever in the way I got around having to do it. I would just post old childhood pictures. The time came when I decided to take a chance and let everyone “see” the real me. I knew that it would be impossible for me to like any serious picture of me, so my daughter and I worked together to create the silliest pictures we could. Being silly with my daughter allowed me to be more comfortable with the whole picture taking process, and also put me more at ease when it came to choosing one to show the world. It made me feel good to accomplish that.

Some suggestions for you to try when learning how to love yourself are:

  • Acknowledge when you accomplish something, even something small, and praise yourself for it.
  • Write yourself “love notes”. These can be notes to yourself, inspiration quotes, anything that makes you feel good. Put them in places where you will see them and read them throughout the day. My favorite places are my bathroom mirror and the front door.
  • Take some time for you. Even if it is only 15 minutes, make clear that this is time for you. Read, take a bath, talk to yourself, thinking about nothing….
  • Find ways to reward yourself daily.
  • Nurture yourself.
  • Focus on solutions rather than worrying about the problem. Being proactive in solving your own problems really does make you feel good about yourself.
  • Replace any negative thoughts with positives ones. Or at the very least, when you have a negative thought, immediately follow it with a positive thought. I try and find at least three positive things about every situation.
  • Allow yourself to succeed.

Who you are is more important than what you are. You are valuable and nothing can change that.