We’ve got it backwards!

Fred sleeping in cat cube...feet and tail sticking out!

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

31 thoughts on “We’ve got it backwards!

  1. Good Morning, Mary! Thanks for this post. My sense is that many of us are doing some internal housekeeping with our past and not necessarily meaning to. Much healing is taking place and it is really lovely. I, too, met with a past relationship this weekend, an old friend from high school who I have many memories with of unpleasant encounters. Our meeting this weekend was very pleasant. He greeted me with a hug, was genuinely nice and conversational, and I found myself letting go of some resentments that I was still carrying after many years. I felt, and still feel, so much lighter! And I am sure that he did, too. I know that is my choice – Lighter! Have a great day.

    • “Lighter” is a perfect word for the results of this internal work, Diana. I am going to borrow that image, going forward. Thanks.

  2. Oh, Mary, does this post strike home!!! I’ve had a challenging relationship with my daughter-in-law for many years and I know in my heart that it’s MY heart and perspective of her that needs to expand, but my brain keeps getting in the way. There’s so much “baggage” we both carry … I’d sure love an airline to lose that for us! But my spiritual adviser gave me a hint that I’ve been trying and it seems to help. Whenever I think of her, I stop and position an image of her wrapped in white light in my third eye, repeat “Peace and Harmony” for about a minute, then I join a vision of myself with her there and repeat it again – and then let it go. This short, 2-minute meditation has been so effective for me.

    Has it changed her idea of me??? She doesn’t even know I’m doing it, but I think so – probably because it’s changing my ideas of her.

    “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Cor 13:4-6

    • Really good reply, Laurie G.! I am going to adopt this method for my own use. It can so easily be fit into any small amount of spare time. Also, have always loved this verse from Corinthians.

      Thanks for sharing.

  3. Interesting, Mary. At a time when I was having a lot of difficulty with my mother in law, I wrote a letter to myself from her. It was a good exercise in compassion and it was extremely helpful to me.

    I love your message – and the consistency of support.

    • what a fantastic idea Lynne…writing a letter to ourselves from the person we are having a conflict with.. I really love this!

  4. Supposedly, Mary, this is to be a year of opportunity for great change for each individual in the area of spiritual evolution. I believe your posts are showing us how to take the steps to achieve this and I, for one, am looking at things from such a different perspective, thanks to you.

    P.S. I think I will have to put my ex-mother-in-law at the very end of my list of people to work with…..I’m not THAT evolved yet. 😉

  5. As I read your post this morning and the comments that follow, I feel less alone in my struggles. In the past when my negativity surfaced, my method of dealing with it was to not verbablize it…but it was still there, even if the words never came out of my mouth. I so love your suggestions here…along with the others you’ve been posting lately on this subject.

    Love IS patient and kind…and we are instructed to love one another. Thanks for sharing yet another way for us to be at peace with ourselves, others, and our surroundings.

  6. “Love keeps no record of wrongs”, – wow, that’s a hard one. But could it really be as simple as letting go of those heavy suitcases we carry around, the baggage of resentments and bad memories, could we really just set them down and walk away, so much lighter as Diana said? Interesting that in that context of using “lighter”, we think of losing the weight, but we also let the Light in as well. Seems like this subject really touches us deeply at the family level, be it a mother in law or daughter or son in law. I have deep concerns for one of my sons who is in a relationship where I see red flags, but if ever there was a time to step back, (bite my tongue) and think only good about this young woman, I guess that time is now. Putting into practice what we are sharing here these days. Oh how good it is to be able to check in with the flock every morning. May Light’s sweet compassion reside in all of our hearts today. Happy Martin Luther King Day too!

    • P.S. Not sure how this quote relates, but I read it over the weekend, and loving the time of sunset, and twilight, and since we are speaking of light, I thought I’d share this: That beautiful time of day when it is neither day nor night:

      “Twilight: A time of pause when nature changes her guard. All living things would fade and die from too much light or too much dark, if twilight were not.” Howard Thurman

      • Oh…what a beautiful quote Susan…the changing of the guard…when the peepers begin their twilight symphony, the fireflies bring their light…is it too early to have Spring fever?!

      • If anyone is interested – Howard Thurman is one of my favorite theologians – born late 1800’s, here is the wikipedia link:

        and one of my favorite poems of his:

        The Growing Edge

        All around worlds are dying out, new worlds are being born. All around us life is dying and life is being born:
        The fruit ripens on the tree; The roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth
        Against the time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit.
        Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, The one more thing to try when all else has failed,
        The upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This basis of hope in moments of despair,
        The incentive to carry on when times are out of joint And [people] have lost their reason; the source of confidence
        When worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of a child – life’s most dramatic answer to death –
        This the Growing Edge incarnate, Look well to the growing edge!

  7. I can also think of a particular relationship that is an unhealthy one. Mary, your comment about the ‘facade of friendliness covering up feelings of dislike,etc,…will not produce comfortable and deep relationships’, really strikes me. Because, first, I need to understand/determine if I really want a deep relationship with this person or not. Is it worth my work? Because now, I tend to practice ‘avoidance’ with her. And that too, takes a lot of work! She is a sister-in-law, and like Laurie G says, there is lots of baggage on both sides. And we both hide (good choice of words!) behind the facade of family and friendliness. There are great tools here to help me position her, me, and the relationship differently. I do want to feel at peace with the relationship, with her. And interestingly enough, the verse Laurie G offered, 1st Corinthians, is the reading I was asked to do at their wedding many years ago! So this post is ‘shouting’ at me to listen! And I am…

  8. What a great reminder, Mary. If we are open to it, it can be…. we have to be willing to “go there” first, sometimes…. and often that is not easy…

    My former husband and I have A LOT of ugly baggage, most of it around money.

    However, when our family dog, Skeeter, was desperately ill earlier this month, I knew I could not soon pay the vet’s twelve-hundred-plus-dollar bill to save her. Reluctantly and after much prayer/soul searching, I called my former husband for help.

    (We have been divorced for nearly ten years. I have NEVER asked him for financial help, EVER. I swore I would starve before I ever… oh, you get the picture.)

    I asked without preamble ~though my voice was shaking!~ for help in paying for saving the dog.

    My former husband, without snide comment or objection, agreed.

    Furthermore, he paid his “share” of Skeeter’s vet bill within hours of my giving him the vet office’s information. I promptly sent a sincere thank you card to my ex, along with a picture of Zane (our son) and Skeeter on the day that Skeeter came home from the vet.

    It felt like a breakthrough for me: stuffing my pride and asking my ex (whom I considered an ogre) for help, in spite of all of the “stuff” that he and I have around money. And it was no big deal.

    Rest assured, WFF friends, *that* was a miracle. It can be done.

    • That took courage to share with us too, Kelly. Skeeter worked his own miracle too didn’t he, helping to lighten, maybe not erase, but lighten that heavy load you’ve probably both been carrying over the years. Leave it to a dog to bring out the best in a human! Yay Skeeter – so glad to know he is well again.

    • I salute you, Kelly, not just for sharing this story with us but for putting aside the angst of the past and doing what you had to to save Skeeter. Things can be bad between two people,but when a crisis arises, that dead space between the parties can suddenly be overpowered by some kind of cooperative “let’s deal with what’s important” energy, and miracles do occur. In this case, love for Skeeter stepped in. How great is THAT?!

  9. Susan A.’s post jump-started my thoughts:

    “……if ever there was a time to step back, (bite my tongue) and think only good about this young woman, I guess that time is now.”

    Susan, your post, especially the part I’ve quoted here, caused a big question to jump out at me regarding the work we’re all doing within ourselves these days. I am, as all of you are, trying to look at old habits and old contacts, and reassess how I perceive things and how I can change myself to see them differently. All of a sudden I read your post and I thought to myself that maybe the red flags you are seeing with your son’s relationship are really intuitive. If so, are you doing a disservice to the situation by “thinking only good about this young woman.”

    Then this question took on a universal context for me. I guess in a general sense I wonder how any of us find the line between shutting down something intuitive by trying to ‘like’ what we see, versus trying to change an actual misperception of what we see? A valuable gift (intuition) could be lost in this dance.

    See how my Virgo mind works? I could take a simple statement about the consistency of a chocolate bar and make it into the Gettysburg Address. Sorry to ramble on here but just writing this down on paper would NOT have purged it from me.
    Any suggestions, anyone, or have I given all of you a headache? 🙂

    • Suzanne, I just have been so bothered ever since something happened yesterday that set off the ‘red flag’ to me, between this young woman and her 8 year old son – the young lady now engaged to my son. It is one thing to cloak someone in light, to envision only positive thoughts, but you are so right – a red flag is not to be ignored and I am going to be talking to my son tomorrow because when an innocent child is involved, a dear little boy I already love like my own grandson, then I would be doing a disservice not to address what I saw and what I heard. So, yes there is a time for staying out of our children’s lives, biting our tongues, minding our own business, but for me, who really dislikes confrontation, I simply must follow my intuition. Boy oh boy, that maternal instinct is strong like a lioness isn’t it? We defend our cubs and find the words. Thank you for clarifying Suzanne, the difference between looking for the positive, not dwelling on another’s faults, but also when necessary, stepping in too and addressing those red flags. At least I will know I said my piece and then I will step back again and let my grown son handle his own affairs.

      • Good for you, Susan. Reading what you just wrote clarified my own statement for me. May all good blessings come from this for all involved. You will be speaking from your heart.

    • I totally get where you are coming from Suzanne, and it’s something I struggle with but get great help from Mary and others here…that fine line…sometimes so clear and bold, other times so faint I might tend to overthink the issue. So we will make mistakes from time to time as we continue to look within…but always with good intention. Trusting our judgement, our informed judgement, is OK I think. So far, my personal ‘golden rule’ is that my gut or my intuition trumps most else. Because if we are really in touch with ourselves our gut is probably right. I can tend to overanalyze or be hypersensitive. I try to always look for the good and the light…and that remains my goal. But I’m also learning from Mary to consider balance…and that is an important distinction. So, no, you did not give me a headache! You validated a lot of my own thought process!

      • Kathye, I Love that Thought! That our trump card is surely the still small voice of the heart. Not to be ignored. Everyone’s comments today have been so helpful to me. Isn’t it interesting how the actual post takes on a second life of its own as one person’s concern on a given day sparks yet another round of comments? Love you all!

      • And you, Kathye, gave me yet another perspective to help me view this whole question. I really appreciate your input. Thanks!

  10. Mary, are you living in my head somewhere and I haven’t found you out yet? If I follow your posting that came in overnight, I will have to remove my bottom from my very comfortable pew in running over my secret battles in my head. I will have to stop nurturing them, polishing them, be forced to actually say that I like my lawyer brother-in-law when he’s done me dirt?! I shall print off your message, post it in my studio and remind myself to read it again and again. I am willing to try to let my past battles go. It will take some effort and I don’t expect 100% success. But I have a question; if I think well of someone and send them warm messages, will I change them or just me? I think your answer will be….me.
    SandyP in Canada

    • What I know,( but I often forget!) is that at some level, below the ego and the outer stuff…at the level of Spirit, we are all connected. So when I think good thoughts about someone, I not only benefit myself but them as well..even when they are not aware of it.

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