As I’m writing this post, I am thinking about someone I know. She never reads my blog. For the benefit of the doubt, I’d say she rarely reads my blog. There are things I want to say and I wish she would listen to me. She probably won’t, but you will?
I spoke with a few friends in the past few days and this topic kept coming up again and again. It’s about where I come from and the lessons I learned in life. I’d like to pass them along and share them with others. They are always helpful for me to think about when I feel down and maybe they will be helpful for you as well.
I didn’t grow up in a happy home and being happy is something I struggle to be. It’s not easy to be happy when for years and years you absorb a perspective of the world as a cold place where things are either black or white, mostly black, and there’s a lot of sadness, bitterness, and anger in your environment. I still struggle to be happy. The good news? It’s getting easier as years go by but there are forces that keep pulling me back. I fight to move forward and away from them. One of the obstacles is what I call negative self-dialogue.
Considering where I’m coming from, up until about 9 years ago I used to be a negative, cynical, sarcastic person, seeing the world through dark glasses. When you insist to relate the world this way of course this becomes your reality because even if good things are happening to you, you won’t see them. Then you become the prisoner of your own dungeon. I scratched my way out of this place. Here is one technique that I learned and really opened my eyes.
About 10 years ago I participated in a few workshops, some for professional and some for personal development. The first one, as back then I was practicing organizational consultancy, was a course about facilitating groups dynamics. Our wonderful facilitator – her name is Michal and I will never forget her – talked about the internal dialogue she might have as a group facilitator when standing in front of a group. She described the following situation;
I’m standing in front of a group of people and talking. There’s a guy sitting in the room who constantly yawn in front of my face. I can tell my self, “Boy, I am so boring, I’m a terrible instructor because this guy can’t stop yawning. I’m wasting these people’s time. I must be such a bad facilitator”. Or, I can say to myself, “Wow, this guy is really tired. Poor guy. He keeps yawning. I must be very interesting because he is staying and making an effort to listen to me and participate. I must be a good instructor.”
Another example; I saw the following simulation at a very intense workshop I have participated in. A guy walks to another person and hands her a flower. Scene #1: The person looks at the flower, takes it, inspects it then says, “The stem of this flower is bent, the leaves look as if they are dying. Is this a fresh flower? You know, I don’t like these kinds of flowers anyway.” Scene #2: The receiver of the flower takes it and says, “This is a beautiful flower. Thank you for thinking of me and bringing me this lovely flower, it makes me happy. What a nice thing you did for me. Thank you!”.
Do you see my point?
OK, one more. Now this time it is me.
A friend invited us to come for brunch. I was very happy about the invitation. But, a few days before the actual brunch she called me and said her child had a cold and what do I choose to do – come over anyway or postpone to another time?
I was very stressed at that time and even a simple question such as this was too much for me. My reaction? I felt sad, disappointed, I had tears in eyes because the thoughts in my head were, “She is regretting inviting us over. She’s only saying her child is sick as an excuse to cancel brunch because she doesn’t really want to have us”.
A few days later I came back to my senses and realized she was only being considerate. My way of thinking changed to “How sweet of her. Yes, I wouldn’t want my children to get sick because they played with a sick child. I do prefer that we meet some other time. How thoughtful of her! She’s a good friend.”
The positive self-dialogue versus the negative self-dialogue helps switch places. Instead of being sad, it helps me be happy. Instead of a victim, a strong person.
It helps to break free from the prison of negative thoughts. It’s a better choice to go out to the world, interact with people, say nice things to them and to yourself. “It’s not always easy, but do it!”, I keep telling myself.
Bad old habits are addictive, but every day it does become easier and easier. The world is what we construct it to be. It’s our choice. We do have a choice. I have a choice! You have a choice!
One more thing I learned this year “Assume good intention“. Think about it…
I hope your holiday is a happy one but if it’s not, make it one! Do something nice for yourself and make yourself happy.
I send you a virtual hug. XO.
I feel better already!
Why “Happy”? The first “Happy” post is here.
Categories : Happy