So it is only a few days into the new year and I am hoping you have a written description of who you want to become. I know I have. Here is the funny thing, I say funny because it sounds better than disappointing. Guess how long it took me to do something contrary to my vision of who I am to become in 2016? I am not sure exactly, but the time frame could be measured in hours. I am sure a lot of us may run into this. Perhaps your goal is to become a healthier version of yourself, but then your coworker brings in their delicious cheese cake they only make once a year. You are halfway through your first piece before you realize it is not quite a healthy meal. Well, allow me to share with you my fall and what I learned.
First, the most important lesson is that if you stumble, you don’t have to stay laying down. You get back up and work even harder. The second thing was a bit more complex. Part of who I want to be is a person who is more careful what they say, especially in emotional situations. Again, I dropped the ball a little with a friend of mine on that one. As I was relaying my disappointment in myself to a trusted friend of mine he shared something similar that happened between him and his wife. “I really screwed up” he began. He went on to explain that in the heat of the disagreement he voiced his opinions and concerns in such a way a man of the religious order would blush. I inquired to whether he apologized and tried to better explain himself. “yeah, but it won’t work. She told me she just keeps replaying everything I said in her head and it is making her feel worse and worse”. I was shocked to hear somebody would do that to themselves. As I soon discovered, a lot of us do.
Let us begin by discussing our emotions. If you have been following my blog for any length of time you know our emotions come from inside us, not from outside circumstances. It is not the actual event that makes us feel a certain way, but what we decide it means. We also have a choice of what to focus on. Truly this gentleman did not always speak to his wife that way, and truly she did things to make him feel loved and happy, not just upset. I know because I have seen how high on love this fellow has been. He seemed sad, but not angry. I asked him if he had thought about the things she may have said or done to make him upset. “Yeah, a little, but I just can’t help but thinking about how cute she looked before I left for work and how much I am missing the love we share” he replied.
The difference was obvious. When someone hurts us, that is on them. Certainly if they say or do something harsh it can cause us great distress. Let’s face it, reflecting on it is a natural and almost automatic response. When we do focus on the painful things people have said or down to us however, we are actually hurting ourselves. In the case of a husband and wife, and even in really close friendships, it should be clear that the intent is never to hurt the other person if the relationship is healthy. Knowing that the other person does not want to hurt us can at the very least, take us from pain and anger to confusion. OK, so if they do not want to hurt us why would they say these things that are so painful? That at least is a better question. Perhaps they are hurt as well? Perhaps there has to be a healthier outlet to discuss such things? Perhaps we had a roll in causing their reaction? Whatever the answer may be this brings up the next point. It changes our focus. When we just replay the hurt in our mind, we are living in the problem. Nothing moves forward and we can literally make ourselves physically sick. When we start to ask the ‘why’ questions and throw in a few thoughts of loving and/or nice things this person may have done, we move towards a solution mindset. Maybe the solution is to remove this person from our life? That would be the most extreme answer, and usually doesn’t come to that, but there are a million other choices. Remove the situation? Refocus? Perhaps change or eliminate the situation?
When we replay negative experiences we also replay the feelings they gave us and essentially hurt ourselves. Would it not make more sense to replay positive situations and the feelings they gave us? Make no mistake, I understand how extremely difficult this can be, but the positive effect it would have on our lives is worth the change.