I was talking with my sister the other day about someone who had married into our family, and subsequently refused to have anything to do with anyone in our family (except for the person she married), and the poem, Outwitted, by Edwin Markham, came to mind.
After years of feeling like I was being excluded by this woman it dawned on me that I could not be excluded from happiness, inner peace, love, and friendship by anyone except myself. When I got angry, resentful, disgusted, discouraged, or resigned, to what I perceived to be her unfriendly ways, I walled myself off (I thought from her but really it was from the happiness that I could have been feeling whether I was seeing them or not).
At some point, I made a conscious effort to draw a circle that included her. It didn’t mean that I then started extending invitations to her to get together. She’d made it clear that she didn’t want this….so I did it in my mind. I thought happy thoughts about her, saw her as I would like someone to see me: happy, healthy, peaceful, and loving life. This might not sound like a big deal, but in the beginning, it took a monumental effort to think nice things about her, especially when I was pretty sure that she was thinking sh** about me.
Occasionally, I would feel like I should do something more (like send a card or gift) and I would do it, but these physical expressions of love were never well-received or wanted, so I would go back to simply thinking good thoughts. I didn’t do this in the hopes of eventually have a relationship with her, because I wasn’t sure that this would have been in the highest and best for either of us. I didn’t have any motive, other than wanting inner peace, which eventually came.
I still do not have a relationship with her (except for the one in my mind) but it is so fine with me. I feel very peaceful when a thought about her enters my mind, and am also open to the possibility of seeing her some day. Having this type of relationship taught me something important: no matter what a person does (or doesn’t do) to me, they cannot make me feel excluded, less-than, or unwanted. I do that to myself by being exclusive, small-minded, and petty in my thinking.
What anyone thinks about me is none of my business. What I think about me, and what I think about them, is my business….and my business is the business of loving myself, my world and others.
He drew a circle that shut me out— Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in! Edwin Markham
16 thoughts on “A good business plan”
Thank you for this. I needed it this week. We have a similar situation. Who would ever envision one of your children marrying someone who would treat the family this way. I have sent the cards, gifts, kind words which have not been accepted. Our words have been twisted to mean things we never said. I pray and send reiki and also ground myself and surround them and me with healing light. It isn’t easy.
It is some of the hardest “work” that I have done, Kathleen. Growing up, if someone treated anyone in our family in a rude or inconsiderate way, they were ignored and excluded. It was unthinkable for us to be kind in our thoughts to anyone who wasn’t kind to us. If someone said they didn’t like me, I never even considered that I could still like them.
I also didn’t realize how powerless this way of being rendered me…I reacted (to the actions/words) of others, rather than acting from a conviction of how I wanted to be. When I first began this process, I wasn’t sure I could ever do more than try (but I feared that deep down, I would still harbor resentments). Love is such a transforming power….I still marvel at how it works through me when I am open.
Dear Mary, thank you for this post. I have been grappling with my relationship with someone, having a hard time letting go of uncomfortable feelings about this person…..and your wise words have helped me realize that the peace I seek in our relationship has to come from me. It doesn’t matter what happens to the relationship. It matters more the relationship I have with my own self. When I can focus on love, forgiveness and peace within my own feelings about this, I will find the comfort I seek. Bless you Mary.
It seems like it has taken me a lifetime to realize that everything I seek is within me (and I still forget this at times too). Thank you for the blessings, may they return to you multiplied, Love, Mary
What a thought provoking post and the comments so far, equally as meaningful and show such depth of commitment to peace.
… thinking about inner peace, Mary…and how everything feels transformed when I am in that space, and nothing (no matter how spectacular it is) feels right when I am not. Sending you a big hug today!
Hmmm, Mary, what first went through my mind as I was reading this post was…..I wonder if this married-in relative might ever read your blog? And then, you’re right, we do to ourselves what we would not do to others, and that is, put ourselves in a position of emotional suffering. How often I’ve done this and still occasionally do this with the two girls I raised, one adopted (mine) and one step-daughter. Both have a history that was beyond their ability to deal with it appropriately and I never knew or sensed what was going on during their childhood. It has been a painful experience to deal with but I must keep in mind your words when my mind goes to them and becomes unsettled…….it is only I, who can hurt me. Not them.
SandyP in Canada
And that would have been my thought too (does the woman read this blog?). I cannot imagine that she does (it is my father’s wife and she is 80) but just in case, someone, somewhere, that she knows, does read it, I wanted it to be veiled. No one wants to think that they are being talked about. Often times, when I write and think someone might read my blog, I will change the circumstances (to keep the basic truth of the story, but not identify individuals).
Loving thoughts to you today,
What a great message! I may give this a try…
Love the poem. Wish I was enlightened enough to love and include those who dislike me. Still working on that.
We must have the same relative!!!!
I send peace and loving thoughts to my difficult and choosing to be distant, relatives. I saw a version of that poem many years ago in Alan Cohens book, ” The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” it said ” they drew a circle that kept me out, but God and I were bound to win, cause we drew a circle that kept them in ” ….. It worked , I believe we are saved by l o v e !
Mary, this post is yet another reason I fell in love with your blog! You are so vulnerable (easily, it seems, to me!) and it is this very vulnerability that keeps us open. I am just learning this, and what a “coincidence” that I just started following your blog. I believe we are led to what we need, or to whom we need, to re-learn, or re-member what was already in our hearts when we came into this life. In my 12-step group, we’re taught how to deal with resentments, long-held ones, and new ones. It doesn’t always work, completely, for me. I must try other ways as well. I love the idea of drawing them into my circle of love, with no attachment to the results. That is pure intent. Thank you!
You have touched upon the very thing that has taken me years to come to terms with. I am very thankful for this sharing of your experience, and will try to remember the boundary and shield that love can be to protect the heart from hurt, and most importantly , remember how to DO the work ; to refuse the hurt , the resentment and confusion by remembering that no one can have that kind of power over our sense of peace , our natural inclination to love. It IS hard work, I stumble many times. I too grew up in a family that was all about “us vs them “. It was inconceivable to actually carry good thoughts about those who had other lifestyles , thoughts , manner of dress and any number of differences of opinion. But everyday is a new day to feel good about my OWN intention and dedicate myself to peace. The time is now for me to tell myself. ” I am going to lead a happy life”. And your narrative today reminds me of me the way to do so . Also am so appreciative of the many thoughtful others who share their thoughts here .
Sometimes I feel bad when I don’t get a chance to respond right away to your blog ~ not this time as the comments are wonderfully uplifting! I love the quote about drawing the circle to include others and welcomed your words for all of us in this post. PLEASE, Mary, put your daily blog into print so I can buy a copy, or two, or twenty to spread around! Our journey through life, and thise we choose to make that journey with, makes us who we are and you, my friend, are a gem. Love you! Marian
Mary, your story is mine–just change the name to a niece I love but who seems to have closed me out of her life. With the loving support of her mother (my sister) and her older sister, I have done exactly what you did with my thoughts–keeping them loving and positive. During my meditation time I send her loving energy. Well, this morning I was moved to send her a text: ” U R not alone”–she responded! Wow! But I think the most amazing part for me is–how changing my thoughts about her has helped me to keep my heart open to her. (despite anger I have felt with being closed out for no reason that I can discern.) Love is our life. Thank you for all that you do to nurture love is us.
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