I spent a good part of this weekend, going over relationships from my past and casting them in a new light. The most interesting and difficult visualization was imagining that my former mother-in-law and I were talking about what we appreciated in each other. It took a while to even be able to see her saying something nice about me, because over the years, when I imagined conversations with her (or thought what she might be saying about me) it was always negative.
I found it equally interesting that it was hard for me to really think of anything (honestly) good to say about her either. I felt like I was operating a very old, rusty piece of equipment that was not going to work without a lot of oil! But I kept at it until I felt a warm thought surface; I imagined a little smile on her face. That led to more positive words and thoughts, and I ended up with a short, comfortable scene playing in my mind. As I sit here this morning, writing about her, writing about me, I feel a change and it is nice.
So many times, we go through our lives thinking unkind, angry, unpleasant, unhappy thoughts about others, and feel upset that they don’t like or appreciate us more. We have it backwards. If I want someone to appreciate me, I have to think about them in appreciative ways. If I want someone to love me, and I am throwing unloving thoughts their way, I will not get love back. A facade of friendliness, that is covering up feelings of disdain, distrust, disapproval, or dislike, will not produce comfortable, deep relationships. People are going to mirror back to me, my inmost thoughts about them, and also, my inmost thoughts about myself.
It is some of the most challenging work: to imagine the life I would love to live, instead of what I don’t want or what has already been. Living in the past and holding negative views of people and situations from the past is almost like “default” living. It is not creative. When I change the way that I see someone, or some situation, it will change, but I have to hold my new vision steady. I have to use my focus to see something new, let go of the past, and bring a better picture into reality.
“He who does not imagine in a stronger and better light, than his perishing and mortal eye can see, does not imagine at all.” William Blake