Something to love

Esther on the front porch looking inside

A number of years ago, I was really struggling with someone who had married a family member of mine.  I tried avoiding her, but since she was the one who always answered the phone when I called, it was impossible. At one point, I seriously considered stopping contact with that member of my family because I felt so much hostility from his wife. It wasn’t only me either…everyone else had the same issue which really made the situation (her) seem impossible. Instead of ending the relationship, I decided to try to be open, compassionate and friendly when I called, and it never got any better.

One day it dawned on me that all of my “trying to be spiritual and loving” with her, was really just a lofty sounding cover-up.  When I truly looked at what I was doing energetically, I was bracing myself for the worst, hoping that she would be at least cordial, while dreading the interaction. I also realized that I had never really looked for the positive things about her. I never wanted to see them. Thinking about her good points, felt like I was giving her the upper hand somehow. And since she apparently didn’t like me at all, I in turn, didn’t want to like her. The times in between phone calls, when I thought about her, it was in very unfriendly ways.

What finally turned things around for me was asking my family member what he loved about her. He told me that she was honest and fair, and I believed him. I didn’t have to like every thing about her (frankly, that would have seemed impossible) but I could try to see something good, vs. always looking at her through a critical lens. I then began the work of thinking about her in this positive light, and not just 10 minutes before I made a call (while thinking trash all the rest of the time) but every time I thought of her.

The change came when instead of just putting a “holy band-aid” on the situation, I genuinely found something to appreciate about her and held my mind on that.

Thinking negative, critical thoughts is so natural when we feel like we are being criticised or not liked, but these thoughts never lead to inner peace, never lead to more life or happiness for us.This kind of judgemental thought creates an invisible circle around us that actually repels Life and sends out a signal of struggle and discord that keeps happiness away. We don’t give up anything of value by thinking well of our fellow travelers on this journey called life (no matter how difficult we think they are). There is something of infinite value in every one of us and when we choose to look for it, first in ourselves, and then in others, we gain a life that works, flows, and expands into more love and happiness, not only for ourselves but for all who come into our sphere of influence.

It is one of the great troubles of life that we cannot have any unmixed emotions. There is always something in our enemy that we like, and something in our sweetheart that we dislike“. William Butler Yeats

13 thoughts on “Something to love

  1. Mary, I’m sitting here giggling as I’m reading your comments this morning. I can relate completely, of course because I’ve had the same and similar thoughts and reactions. The holy band-aid attitude from my end is something that I catch myself at frequently and I need to remind myself, would I like to be the recipient of those lofty thoughts myself…no, I’d get my dander up so why do I reach for those sorts of feelings and comments. I end up smiling at myself because of my ego responses are sometimes so full of themselves. Right now, I’m trying to read one of Byron Katie’s books and am struggling through it, not understanding or knowing much about the Tao or her thought processes which are confusing to me in the reading of them but knowing and recognizing that what I think I’m picking up from it is that we are the recipients of our perceptual realities and mine sure need adjusting and monitoring constantly.
    SandyP in Canada

    • SandyP, are you referring to the book Loving What Is? Someone here recommended it a few weeks back – I got it from the library, and whoa! it is slow reading – in fact, it was due before I could really give it the attention it deserved, which is not only reading it, but DOING those questions, oh the hard part! I think I may buy a copy. I agree, it’s a challenge – what we perceive as ‘real’ can be so different from another’s perspective, even a close family member.

      • Susan, the title of the book I am trying to read is: ‘A Thousand Names for Joy, Living in Harmony with the way things are’ I’m not on the same planet at times…I feel tangled up in knots trying to understand the reality of what isn’t. Maybe I should try the book you’re talking about. I’m not giving up, I’m noting what I can understand in the book but I have this niggly thought that comes creeping back into my ego that if I accept what is, isn’t, am I letting myself off the hook of responsibility. I just don’t know. Maybe I’ll get it eventually, Susan,
        SandyP

      • I hit the button too soon. Yes, our differing perspectives in families, especially families that are blended families, adopted children with their own genetic blueprint, our spouses, our perspectives can be so different. I think at times acceptance for what is without hammering our own point home with others is something I need to remember, yet, I have my values and when I feel they are compromised, I find it difficult to deal with those people who seem not able to at least understand them. Sometimes I find relatives to have tin ears. And then, I’m sure I do too.
        SandyP

  2. Thank you, Mary. Wise words…..I think this will be immensely helpful. Have a wonderful day!
    Love,
    Molly

  3. Thank you Mary – I have a similar situation and have tried everything in my power to “make peace” with this person to no avail. It has been 22 years and the situation will never change – and it is not just me, she is like that to her own siblings. How do I get past this? I just pray for her (and myself) and look for all the good in life and focus on my own family.

  4. Dear Mary. This is one of the most well-written of your posts! So clear, so true and so very helpful. I especially appreciate your honest approach towards inner peace and the reminder today that in order for that inner peace to exist, we must accept all life by looking for the beauty in it. Thank you for this potent reminder. I needed this!

  5. Well, no more pats on the back for me. Here I was, thinking I was taking the ‘high’ road, trying to send feelings of love for the person “ten minutes before the phone call,” thinking I was being the better person with all my aware spirituality.

    Smack-down. You have to live it ’til you learn it.

    I think you also have to know when you’re just not going to be able to ‘live it’ on a particular day, acknowledge that, and temporarily move on. But on those other days, do it like you mean it; because finding beauty no matter what the situation, is one major gift that keeps on giving.

    Awesome post, Mary!

  6. Where does it say, “The sun shines upon the just and the unjust?” or something to that effect. I guess that’s the challenge, – we have to try to be like the sun with our love – that really hard kind, the agape love, loving what is not sometimes lovable – but shining none the less, at least trying to. This post really hits home with me too, Mary – a difficult family member.

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