July 13, 2023

A Veterans Journey towards Self Forgiveness with Bob Taylor

Young Military Couple Series_ Real US Soldier & Wife Portrait

Share:

​For Veterans leaving military life and transitioning to post-military life, there is often a healing journey that they have to go through. This journey can also involve self forgiveness. In this podcast episode, Elizabeth Polinsky interviews Air Force Veteran Bob Taylor on his journey toward self forgiveness and his advice to other Veterans.

IN THIS PODCAST: 

  • Bob Taylor’s journey toward self forgiveness
  • How to start the process toward self forgiveness 
  • Advice for Veterans working toward self forgiveness 
  • How military spouses can support the journey toward self forgiveness 
  • 5 signs of when to get professional help 
Military veteran hugging his wife

Introduction to Bob Taylor.

Bob Taylor is a former Major in the Air Force. He is from  Michigan, went to Michigan State University and joined the Air Force as a B 52 navigator. As part of his military service, he was deployed in Operation Desert Storm and flew 11 combat missions. When he returned from deployment he left active duty and joined  the Air Force Reserves. While in the reserves, he joined a medical device company in Michigan, where he planted roots and raised his family. In total, he served about 18 years in both active duty and reserve components of the military.  Now he is the CEO of a company called Alliance Health Care products which sells medical devices and health care products to the Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense Hospitals.  And most recently he became an author and decided to share some of his personal stories as well as stories from other veterans on how to transition from military service into civilian life. His new book is called, “From Service to Success“.

Self forgiveness is one of the things that veterans need to learn about how to heal from their experiences.”

Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor’s journey toward self forgiveness. 

No matter where people are in their life, they may need to heal individually, heal their relationships, and work toward self forgiveness. Self forgiveness is part of a healing process. Many people who have depression, anxiety, and PTSD are trying to heal both individually and are also working through mental health challenges  as well as a couple. These mental health diagnoses can are related to an internal feeling of being lost and not having a life purpose once leaving the military. 

When Bob Taylor came back from deployment, he started having  nightmare. They last for 6 months and then stopped. 16 years later, the nightmares came back in a really intense way. He started drinking to cope with the nightmares, and ended up going to the Veterans Affairs hospital to learn how to better cope and work through his own personal journey of growing and healing. 

In writing about his own personal healing journey toward self-forgiveness and mental health recovery, it has been important to him to help break the stigma around mental health care. As he shares his own journey through his book, he is finding that a lot of people are appreciating having someone open up to about their mental health struggles. His ultimately goal is to start a dialogue around mental health. 

If you share about it, it gives others permission to share about their experiences and helps people feel that they aren’t alone.”

Elizabeth Polinsky 

While everyone has their own trauma and their own story, there can be so many similarities of how Veterans feel, and how they have put more pressure on themselves. There are approximately 22 million Veterans and about half of them are struggling to some degree, which means there are 11 million “alone” veterans. 

For Bob Taylor, he want’s them to know: “You aren’t alone and you aren’t weak”. For Bob Taylor, his biggest regret was waiting 16 years to get help from a counselor.  This is because counseling has made a huge difference in his life and his relationship with his family.  When someone is struggling with mental health concerns, it impacts their relationships–especially family relationships–because people are so in tune with their family members.

With couples in particular, it can be hard to tell your partner what is going on with your mental health. Many people are concerned about their partner viewing them as weak. However, most partners really want to be let in and informed about what is going on. It is important for couples ,where one or both are experiencing mental health concerns, that they share with each other about what is going on. Bob Taylor hopes that military couples can read his book together, or that family members can read the book together, to help support their Veterans. 

For Bob in particular, his faith and spirituality has been a major component in his own healing journey toward self forgiveness.  Specifically, confession and forgiveness are something he practices weekly when he goes to church. When he can experience forgiveness from his faith background, it is a very healing experience. About 60-70% of the military population is faith based, and church and spirituality can be an important part of the journey toward healing and self forgiveness.  

Military couple walks hand in hand on clear sunny day

How to start the process of self forgiveness.

1. Start practicing gratitude

For example, if you are focused on what your spouse is doing that you don’t like, that is more about you than your spouse. So it can be helpful to change your own internal mental outlook by intentionally looking for things to be grateful for.  

2. Notice the story you are telling yourself. 

Many veterans have false narratives about how they are responsible for negative things that happened during their military service; these false stories can have a big impact on their mental health and also stay with them for many years if they don’t challenge the story. Veterans in particular tend to blame themselves for things they are not accountable for. 

For example, someone might say to themselves, “If I hadn’t gone to the store, then I could have prevented that bad thing that happened”, when actually that is not true. 

3. Forgiveness involves letting go of the false narrative 

One of the ways to practice self-forgiveness to to challenge the story off blame you have been telling yourself. Work on noticing how you maybe are not accountable, responsible, or at fault for what happened. If you are struggling with this, consider working with a licensed mental health therapist or counselor. 

4. Internal confession that you have wronged someone in thoughts, words, and deeds. 

If you truly believe you are responsible for what happened, then confess the wrong doing to yourself. You could also consider writing it on a piece of paper and setting the paper on fire. Many people feel that this is a helpful and powerful way to let go of self blame and increase self forgiveness. 

5. State “I forgive myself for the things I believe I did wrong“.

Make sure to verbally tell yourself that you forgive yourself. This won’t be a one time thing. It will be a practice where you will go through these steps over and over to try to move toward self forgiveness. 

6. Be committed to living the best life you can. 

One of the best tools for self-forgiveness is focusing on how you want to move forward in life. You can start by being committed to living the best life you can. 

Soldier Reunited with Wife in Park

Advice for Veterans working towards self forgiveness. 

For Bob Taylor, one of the things he struggled with was irritability and anger management. It felt like everyone irritated him all the time. He didn’t feel like he had a choice over this; it just felt that everyone was saying the wrong things and he felt like a victim over what others where saying. He decided he didn’t want to live life like this and went to counseling. One of the first problems taking him into seeing a professional was the fact that he wasn’t sleeping well.Here is his advice tot other Veteran working toward self forgiveness and healing: 

  1. Get some sleep and start practicing basic wellness things. 
  2. Don’t keep things on the inside–talk about what is going on with someone else.
  3. ​Be intentional with choosing thoughts that you want to believe, and repeat it until it turns into a belief.  
  4. Practice self forgiveness until it becomes an internalized belief at the subconscious level. 
  5. Start now! While it’s hard, it’s totally worth it! ​Within months, people can start seeing significant differences, and spouses will see big differences too!

The blame has become a belief through the practice of blaming themselves. But if they can practice self forgiveness it can turn into a belief of self forgiveness.

Elizabeth Polinsky 

How military spouses can support the journey toward self forgiveness.

  1. Have time where you can sit and share stories together. 
  2. Read relationship books together. 
  3. Become aware of when to go get professional help.

5 Signs of when to get professional help.

  1. If the Veteran is not sleeping and suffering from nightmares, they need to go get help.
  2. If the Veteran is drinking or self medicating to cope with the challenges of life, then they need to go get help.  
  3. If a Veteran is homeless, fears they will become homeless, or if feels a deep sense of isolation, they need to go get help. 
  4. If a Veterans struggles are causing significant relationship challenges at home or at work, then they need to go get help. 
  5. If a Veteran is considering harming themselves or someone else, they need to go get help. 

22 Veterans die by suicide every day, but something like 640 veterans attempt suicide everyday,1,500 veterans plan their suicide everyday, and over 5,500 veterans are thinking about suicide everyday. “

Bob Taylor

Final words of wisdom from Bob Taylor. 

From his own personally experiences,  life is not a straight line. It can be cruel at times but it can also be wonderful. For someone who has served in the military–that does not have to be the pinnacle of your life. There are great things and great possibilities that can come after military service. You went through and learned many things. Now you can take those same practices of discipline, intellectual curiosity, and fast learning to applying great success to post-military life. ​Reach out and work with others when needed. Find another cause that is greater than yourself. If you find a new passion in life, great things can happen. 

Get Bob Taylor’s Book!

You can get his book call “From Service to Success” on Amazon or at your favorite book store. You can also get the book at Patriot Promise (https://patriotpromise.org/). For every book purchased from Patriot Promise, one book will be donated to a Veteran. 

Liz’s Useful Links: 

Podcast Sponsor: This podcast is sponsored by Elizabeth Polinsky Counseling, where marriage counselor Elizabeth “Liz” Polinsky provides online marriage counseling, weekend long marriage intensives, and therapist training in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.

Thanks for listening!

     

Join the Communicate & Connect Newsletter

Join our bi-monthly newsletter with tips for improving your relationship. The newsletter is part of The Communicate & Connect Podcast which focuses on military and veteran couples; however, much of the information is applicable to civilian couples as well.  

    We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Favicon-liz-polinsky.webp

    About Author

    Elizabeth Polinsky is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist (EFT) providing EFT marriage counseling in the states of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada. She also provides EFT training and supervision to therapists looking to become certified in EFT Couple Therapy. As a military spouse, she has a special passion for working with military and veteran couples, and is also the host of The Communicate & Connect Podcast for Military Relationships.

    DISCLAIMER:

    My podcast, blogs, videos, newsletters, and products are general information for educational purposes only; they are not psychotherapy and not a replacement for therapy. The information provided is not intended to be therapy or psychological advice; and nothing I post should be considered professional advice. The information provided does not constitute the formation of a therapist-patient relationship.

    I cannot answer questions regarding your specific situation; you should consult your doctor or mental health provider regarding advice and support for your health and well being. If you are experiencing a medical or mental health emergency, you should call 911, report to your local ER, or call the National Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

    The podcast, blogs, videos, newsletters, and products are not a request for a testimonial, rating, or endorsement from clients regarding counseling. If you are a current or former client/ patient, please remember that your comments may jeopardize your confidentiality. I will not “friend” or “follow” current or past clients to honor ethical boundaries and privacy; nor will I respond to comments or messages through social media or other platforms from current or past clients. Current and past client’s should only contact me through the professional contact information provided on the website.

    ​Lastly, accounts may be managed by multiple people. Therefore, comments and messages are monitored by staff and are not confidential.