Happy inside and out

A friend of mine has a rather bad habit of creating difficulties with people in her mind. She imagines that they are upset with her for some reason, and then starts either defending or explaining herself, so she feels “right” and the other person, of course, ends up being “wrong”. For instance, if someone hasn’t called her for a while, she will start thinking of possible reasons for this; did she say something that they didn’t like? Maybe they didn’t like the gift that she gave them? She returned their call, but could it be that their daughter, who she left the message with, didn’t tell them and now they are upset with her?

I’ve said to her, a number of times, “If you want to talk with (them), why don’t you call?” and she always replies with either, “Well, I don’t really care (which is obviously not true) or, If they don’t have the consideration to call me, then why should I bother? The truth is, whether she ever speaks with them again or not, she is in a relationship with them, and it is one that is unhappy, unpleasant, and is draining her energy. This is such a bad habit. I wish that I could say that I couldn’t identify with it.

So many times, we can imagine a difficult, unpleasant or unhappy scenario playing out in our minds, easier than we can see an easy, pleasant and happy one. The difficult one seems like “reality”, the happy, easy, one seems like fantasy. When we are under a lot of stress (like during the holidays maybe) it can be more difficult to lasso our wild, unruly minds that at times seem to gravitate toward the negative.

Last week, someone said something to me that, at the time, didn’t bother me. But as I thought about it, I became more uncomfortable, and then my mind started offering up other things that he had said to me that seemed slightly critical. Suddenly I was defending myself, in an imaginary conversation.

I caught this, and then used a tool that I absolutely love,  I replayed the conversation with him, in my mind but this time I was telling him how much I appreciated him, what I loved about our friendship and I imagined him saying the same things to me. I imagined the scenario that I wanted to happen, until it felt more real than the negative one. Several hours later, he called to say that he had been thinking about me, and  just wanted to let me know how much he appreciated me. This conversation mirrored almost to the word, the one I had played in my mind several hours earlier.

This is such a powerful tool. To use it requires nothing but your willingness to give it a try, and a bit of imagination. We can create happy lives, but we have to do it in our own minds first.

17 thoughts on “Happy inside and out”

  1. How true this is, Mary and how common this is to us all (I think…but…maybe not). We are the centre of our own universe but we are not the centre of the universe itself. The hardest thing to do is to take ourselves out of ourselves; to be less critical of ourselves, to see others as human beings walking this earth with the same feelings; same struggles but in a different way than our own. When my mind dwells, as it does often, on the negative relationships in my life past or present, I am the hero of the reconstruction, always the right one and when I get fed up with myself and see these negative thoughts, I tell myself: change the CD, Sandy. You must enjoy feeling sorry for yourself or you wouldn’t put that record on in the first place. Or, in the words of my mother: pull up your sox, boot yourself in the a** and get on with life…you may be important to yourself but you are one of many who walk this land and this path. Get out of yourself. A good reminder, Mary, of wasted energy when a positive one can be of greater service to ourselves, let alone the world in which we live.

    Sandy P, in Canada

  2. yes, lasso our wild, unruly minds…
    because many days mine mind- is just a’ flapping in the breeze…

    thanks… a great suggestion for continued growth in 2012…
    ….it’s an inside job…

  3. Loved this story today and the comments. I will definitely remember to “change the CD” and let the dialogue or conversation in my head be of a more positive nature. May 2012 be filled with only positive thoughts and ideas!!!!

  4. As this year comes to an end, and the new one begins I ask myself these reflective questions. What do I stand for? What can people count on me for? What can I promise myself and others? What do I do/think each and every day to advance or fulfill the kind of life I want to lead and to be the person I aspire to be? What might I be doing to derail myself? We have so many different types of relationships but I hope that “I” (whoever I may be) am consistent in the core of who I am and of what I give in my relationships. It is a continuous process but one that I love. And Mary, your blog is such a treasure chest of inspiration, wisdom, ideas to keep me on the forward path! Thank you…again and again and again!

  5. It’s hard, hard work breaking an old habit such as this. But after you’ve done it a few times and actually have seen the positive results, you realize that it is NOT the stuff made of fairy tales. It is an actuality.

    I used to blame it on being a Virgo…you know, nit-picking everything to death, re-visiting every word of every conversation ad nauseum. Now, reading the responses here, I know it was a construct that I allowed into my mind that took over and went on automatic, sending out pre-formed thoughts that took me down a phantom road.

    I am adopting Sandy’s “change the CD” affirmation for 2012. I can only go up from here!

  6. As Kathye says, “I” is a work in progress. When “I” becomes “me” it can feel like it has a history and solidity that is not really there. Thanks, Mary and all, for the inspiration to question what I see as reality today and see the reality of the moment.

  7. Even though I am learning to manage my thoughts in relation to my attitude/expectations/self-talk, it never dawned on me to consider *managing my attitudes* about people. Wow. Thanks, Mary.

  8. “Change the CD”, or the channel as it were, – I love Sandy P when you said we are the heroes of the reconstruction when we revert to constructing once again the negative instead of moving on and letting go. Mary, you ended with reminding us that all it takes is our willingness to give it a try, and the word “will” popped out at me. Our intention is so powerful, entwined with our will, our desire to see differently, to let the light in, sweep the cobwebs away. It truly is inside work though. “I stand at the door and knock”, Christ stated. It’s up to us, behind that door, to open and receive.

  9. What a liberating concept Mary! To simply start to picture something more positive – mentally, is a release in itself…. I tried that today, and felt better very quickly. Shortly after that I had a sweet affirmation, unexpected and so appreciated. Attitude is so very important.

  10. Totally unrelated to today’s post, but since there have been a few birthdays on the farm recently, I thought I’d share a fun link that I often send to a friend having a birthday. You can find out all sorts of interesting things about the day you were born.


  11. Thank you so much for this. I find myself becoming very upset if I think that someone I know maybe upset with me. So thank you so much Mary! Joan

  12. Thank you, Mary! As I began reading I felt you were writing to me. I can be my own worst enemy. I do well when I’m busy but about mid afternoon I swear that my brain searches for something to feel badly about. It is some comfort to know that I am not the only person that thinks this way and I will definitely try to embrace a more positive version of the unknown.

  13. The timing and content of your emails this week has been SPOT ON and helped me alot! Thanks!!!

  14. Hi Mary. I am new to the blog, thanks to Jon Katz sharing his favorites on his blog. The day before this post, I had been wondering why a friend of mine hadn’t been by to visit since I moved back to my home town after being away for 3 years. We had spoken on the phone a few times and I now was feeling like I must’ve done something wrong, said something wrong, not said something I should have. After I read this, I changed the CD to a more positive one, and went to grab my phone so i could call her. guess what? When I picked my phone up, I had a text from her saying she didn’t know what she had done, but she wasn’t going to start the year off on a bad note and wished me love and a Happy New Year. I guess we were both letting negative thoughts get the best of us and all either one of us had to do was get in touch with the other. We’ve cleared up a silly misunderstanding. To have read your post and have that happen within in minutes….how powerful and enlightening. Thank you! The power of positive thinking….

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