When “I’m sorry” is the gift you need to give

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Apologies are something most of us don’t do well or do often enough.

We may think about apologizing. We may even brood about it, but doing it is often left undone. A truly heartfelt “I’m sorry”is a wonderful gift to give and will be well worth the effort, and it is free! Apologies can make the receiver and the giver feel better, and may mend a broken relationship or a heart.

“The decision to apologize is a tug-of-war between stubborn pride and guilt. . . . Making a sincere apology is an act of courage, not a sign of weakness.”

If you would like to get better at giving apologies, or if you are currently in a personal battle between your pride and a growing sense of guilt, the following 3 R’s might help you sort it out.

3 R’s of a sincere apology:

1. Responsibility

  • Accept responsibility for what was said or done.
  • This is the hardest part, I know. It is tough to admit to yourself, yet alone someone else – especially the person you have hurt – that you have done something wrong – intentionally or not. But it really is an act of courage, and one that can repair and enrich relationships.

2. Remorse

  • Allow yourself to feel the sadness or embarrassment associated with what you have done. Pushing it away will only make you feel worse, and will never make the one you hurt feel any better.
  • Accept and explain how you feel when you apologize. Then pause and listen. It might take time for them to let their guard down, and their first response may be hurtful to you. DO not get defensive. Listen.
  • Assure the person you have hurt that you are serious about not wanting to do the same thing in the future. Explain what action you will take to not let it happen again.
    • “I realize what I said really hurt you, it was thoughtless/unkind/wrong and I was wrong. If I get angry.frustrated/etc again, I will walk a way and cool down.  I am sorry. I was wrong/jealous/immature.You don;t deserve that.

3. Reparations

  • “How can I make this up to you?” “Is there anything I can do to make this better?
  • Then listen and do not react defensively! Their request might seem over the top to you or too simple to be effective. But since this is not about you, simply listen. Do not offer any suggestions at this point. Let them share their feelings and thoughts without interruption. Remember you have thinking about your apology for awhile, but they are just hearing it for the first time and may need a minute or longer to fully process and accept it.
  • If you can, do exactly what they ask you to, and if that is not possible, talk about solutions until one is found and agreed upon without getting upset or changing the sincerity of your apology.

Timing

Now! The sooner you apologize the better, but do not let the passage of time persuade you that an apology is no longer needed, won’t matter, or will simply stir up old hurts.

One of the most touching and beautiful apologies I ever received occurred years after the incident, long after the sting of the situation had faded for me. Yet, when I received the apology it opened my heart in ways I did not even know were possible. I was completely impressed by the courage and kindness of the giver and it inspired me to be more open about apologizing to others in the future. I have never forgotten the apology, the bravery and kindness of the giver and the warmth it immediately invoked in me. It truly was a moment to remember.  P. Robson

Don’t miss the chance to make someone’s day, open someone’s heart or help put it back together again. Old wounds can be healed, and new bonds created.

Whether you are apologizing for being short to a store clerk, stepping on the toes of a colleague or for deeply hurting someone you love, the three R’s can help you right your wrong. You may gain as much peace of mind as you give, and your apology may even be powerful enough to change the past and redirect the future.

Please note:  There is always a chance the recipient might not be ready to accept your apology – now or ever. If they refuse, accept it, and try to forgive yourself in that moment. Depending on the situation, you may want to try again in the future. If not, be open to whatever happens and know you did your best. Don’t judge their reaction or brood about it. Accept the fact that your words and actions have the ability to harm and be more aware and caring in the future.

As my Valentine’s Day gift to my readers and a way of spreading love throughout 2017, if you have an apology you want to give any time in 2017, but haven’t yet mustered the courage, I will give a free 30-minute apology insight and practice session to anyone interested in making amends. Email me @ wishfulthinkingworks@gmail.com. Include your name and a brief description of the situation. I will get back to you to arrange a time. If you have been thinking about it, it is time to do it! 

You can do it!

The Perfect Valentine’s Gift

Would you like to make someone you care about happy this Valentine’s Day?

Would you like to become happier in the process?

If so, write a gratitude letter to someone special in your life.

Your letter can leave you and the recipient feeling happier for months. 

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Gratitude Letters

A few years ago I wrote and shared my first gratitude letter; I wrote it to my Dad. I was a bit shy about doing it, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience for both of us, and since my Dad passed away a few years after I wrote his letter, the experience holds a special place in my heart.

I’ve been writing thank you notes for decades. I sent cards not just for gifts, but for experiences, past and present. I’ve written dozens of notes and cards to my aunts and to friends of my parents for their special acts of kindness to me as a child. One of my younger brother’s godmothers always had extra treats for us when she brought him a gift. Another of my aunts hosted weekly gatherings at her and my uncle’s farm each Sunday in the summer allowing my eight siblings and me to swim, dive, jump, ride, row, fish, and enjoy all sorts of other summer fun because they were willing to put-up with an ongoing stream of guests – our family and many others. Those Sundays were magic to me as a kid, and I wanted them to know.

Those letters and the memories they evoked are wonderful, but a gratitude letter is an even richer, more touching way to say thank you. Here’s why:

  • It’s longer – approximately 300 words.
  • It’s read in-person to its intended recipient, making it more of a gratitude visit with the letter as a hostess gift of sorts. The true magic of the visit comes from sharing your letter out loud and face-to-face with its recipient. (If you can’t meet in person, Skype or a phone call will work, but if at all possible go the in-person route.)
  • Dr. Martin P. Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology and one of the first and strongest proponents of gratitude visits notes the ritual is powerful, ”Everyone cries when you do a gratitude visit,” he says. ”It’s very moving for both people.”

Tips for making it work:

  • Write to someone, who holds a special place in your heart or who did something nice or kind for you, but you’ve never thanked, or thanked as much as you would have liked to.
  • Be detailed. Write the particulars of what you are thankful for. Let them know how their actions affected you. Include the whats, the whens, the hows, and the whys.
  • Let your recipient know you are up to something good! A funny thing happened when I read my letter to my Dad. When I finished, he made a joke about how I must have the wrong “Dad”, and then he told me he thought I was going to share something about what he’d done wrong – not right. (I was nervous about sharing my letter, and he interpreted that as seriousness or sadness. When I began reading from a sheet of paper he was sure there was bad news ahead.) We laughed about that, but to prevent any confusion, letting your host or hostess know the visit is well-intentioned is probably a good idea.
  • Leave a copy of your letter with your recipient. Don’t worry about making it too fancy, but using special paper can’t hurt. Laminating or a frame might be appreciated, or to others, seem a bit too much – go with your guts. Just don’t make the visit too much about what happens next with the letter; leave that up to your receiver.

The Ripple Effect

Another interesting facet of this simple and effective gesture is that it tends to grow and reproduce on its own. Recipients often end-up writing and sharing letters with folks they want to thank, and writers tend to write more letters to share with others.

Positive psychology studies show the good feelings can last for weeks, even months. I know for a fact, that years later, I’m still happy I presented a gratitude letter to my father. IT is a sweet and happy memory.

Increased happiness for someone you care about is just a few pen strokes. Don’t let this free,  foolproof opportunity for joy pass you by – send a gratitude letter to someone special this Valentines Day!

Queen for a day

Or a lifetime . . .

queen

Check out my “Courage Diet”

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Journey of a lifetime

Patrice BitolaWishful Thinking Works

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to change your life dramatically? To try something terribly new and scary, but truly heartfelt – all on your own? To do more and learn more than you ever thought possible?

I did, and I am sharing the experiences of my amazing adventure in Macedonia as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer from 2006-2009 at programs for the Naples Florida Regional Library, on Thursday, Febraury2, 2017 at 3 p.m. and at the Fort Myers Beach Library on February 10 at 10:30 a.m.

Only 450 people over the age of 50 serve in the Peace Corps each year, I was lucky enough to be one of them. I was 53 years old when I decided to take the biggest risk of my life, and ended-up on an remarkable journey serving in a tiny, ancient, mountainous, wine-soaked country just north of Greece. It truly is my personal “Eat, Pray, Love” story.

You are never too old – or too young – to decide who you want to be!

My journey really began in 2004 when I started looking at my life through a new lens. I spent less time “doing” and more time reflecting and thinking about how I wanted my life to look, feel and be. During that time I discovered three things:

  1. I wanted to “touch the face” of the people I was helping. I am a visual thinker and that was my way of saying I knew I wanted to work one-on-one with folks. I had risen as far as I could in management within my field, and although I loved my job and was impacting my community in a way I wanted to, I knew I had more to learn and give at a personal, one-on-one level.
  2. I knew there were more people I was supposed to know in this world – not just to meet, but to know. Luckily I was right, and made friends for life on my journey.
  3. And, I knew I wanted  to live in Europe. Didn’t know how or why, but knew I wanted to live within another country and culture.

Macedonia Map

During my two years of introspection and months of research, Peace Corps (PC) rose to the surface. Joining PC was never planned, but popped-up while searching Internet options that would allow me to live as I realized I wanted to. And, and as sad as this is to admit, I had no clue where Macedonia was until I started exploring serving in the Peace Corps in Eastern Europe.

You are never too old – or too young – to become who you want to be!

During my presentation you will find out what it is like to pack two suitcases and leave behind everything else you love – family, friends, your home and your job to volunteer in a country where you must learn a new language, work in a new job and make new friends, while trying to understand and meld into a culture that is foreign to you.

Through photos and stories I will share how this wonderful trek enriched my life and broaden my understanding of myself, others and the world around me.

Postscript:

I returned to Macedonia in 2010, 2011 to visit and for projects and in 2012 for a short Response Corps Peace Corps (RCPC) assignment. In 2011, I served in the Republic of Georgia on another short RCPC project. In May of 2016 my new husband and I visited Macedonia for a month for our honeymoon. He loved it!

The learning and the fun never has to end!

it’s always true . . .

Happiness is a choice

Throughout the year I am lucky enough to be able to present on a topic I love, “Happiness Is a Choice.”  Today is one of those days, which makes me very happy!

For those of you who won’t be able to join us in beautiful, sunny, Fort Myers Beach today, here are a few of the tips I will be sharing.

  • 40% of your happiness is entirely up to you! happiness-graph
  • Studies show 50% is determined genetically,
  • only 10% by actual life circumstances,
  • and the remaining 40% is entirely up to you!

You truly have a choice as to how you want to react to your feelings and life’s situations.

We will also be talking about P.E.R.M.A., the father of positive psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman’s  five-point life list for flourishing. Hint: meaning and purpose are key; for the details click here.

And, I will be sharing positive psychology lecturer, author and researcher, Shawn Achor’s 21-day “Happiness Advantage” plan. To learn more and receive a free copy, click here.

Hope these tips help, so wherever you are today, you can learn a bit more about why “Happiness Is a Choice”!

You can do it!

Wishful Thinking Women

new-pageEvery Wishful Thinking Women Meetup is great, but this week’s truly was amazing. Thank you, ladies! What a fabulous start to 2017!

So much fun to spend time with such interesting, creative, brave, and wonderfully kind women! Welcome to our newbies, and thank you to those who join us month after month, year to year! Love talking with you all.

Here are a few of the comments from this week’s Meetup . . .

“Very uplifting meeting and great group of ladies! Thank you all for your input.”

“It was so good to be with such vibrant women. Thank you for sharing your dreams!!”

“Loved meeting this group of beautiful, forward thinking women.”

Find your “tribe” hold them close and visit with them often!

You can do it!

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