Do you have any unhelpful stories like, I'm shy, not good enough, an idiot, always make mistakes, or am I the only one that has such unhelpful destructive thought habits? I think if we are honest, we all have some unhelpful history habits we are carrying around and reliving again and again.
I was reminded of this yesterday as I was walking past a clothes boutique in High Street. Advertised out the front was a blackboard with a new clothes label 'Not Shy'. I asked the shop assistant if I could take a photo of the label. She very kindly agreed and did not ask me why. Believe me I have done stranger things for a good cause, but not when I had my 'I am shy story". I would have been way to shy to ask to take the 'not shy' photo in the past.
The 'Not Shy' sign reminded me of a whole 'I am shy, story' I had going on for many years, which I thought might be helpful to share. It also reminded me how, with some wise advice over the years, I am rewriting that story into a more helpful one, that makes me happier and more available for others.
Sometimes we can get so habituated to reinforce a story like 'I am shy' or I am not deserving of ....', 'I am not good enough' or 'I am better than', we don't stop to question the truth of such thoughts or whether they are helping us be happy or ever did!! I know I did it for years. I now understand how reinforcing these untrue, thought habits makes me unhappy and under confident and unavailable for others. As we have explored many times it is important for us to be a kind, encouraging friend to ourselves, not a 'frenemy' - that enemy dressed as a friend who is out to reinforce those untrue negative thought habits. Some steps and questions that have really helped me rewrite a more helpful story are
I was reminded of this at a friends fathers funeral many years ago. The funeral was at a German Lutheran Home and many people there were speaking German. Also my friend, had many friends and neighbours there I did not know. So after the service I walked into the tea-room for the wake. The 'shy, not good enough' story replayed in my head - 'I couldn't speak German, did not know many people, was not good at talking to people etc." I thought about quietly exiting, no one would notice! STOP - Be Aware; Is that true - NO. Are those memories helpful? NO. These thoughts are not helping me feel good about myself or make me available for anyone else. So instead I thought - I will do my best to connect with and benefit others here. I saw the nurses were run off their feet delivering tea to the elderly people, so I asked if I could help. Yes, please! So I had lots of fun connecting to others as I chatted and handed out tea. I had got my shy self out of the way and rewritten the 'shy, not good enough story'. Do you have a story, that could do with a re-write?
Two wonderful things happened this week to confirm to me, getting over my 'shy not good enough story' had been and continues to be a wonderful worthwhile project. The first was a beautiful comment from my very dear, inspirational and wise friend, Molly. She commented after my last blog post " Love this Maree!! I love how you weave your everyday adventures into such strong teaching points. Nice job.Your chickens are just so darn cute. And so are you!" . Thank you Molly.
And a fellow waitress of my daughters, commented after I visited their Cafe on the weekend "Your mum is so friendly, she has one of those resting smile faces". Really, I didn't know that, but, it makes me happy! I am so grateful to those wonderful teachers and friends who have helped me get over negative, unhelpful habits and be a more positive force in the world, to do my best to be of benefit.
Ever find yourself in a situation where decide to do what is right, when you know it will not make you popular? I have faced this situation many times as I am sure you have too.
It takes courage to be the only parent (ever) to ring and check if the 16 year old party-parents are going to be home or even worse to not buy alcohol for your teen. It also takes courage to dissuade a friend from drinking too much, driving recklessly, spreading rumours, being dishonest or any other harmful behaviour. This week I faced this dilemma as a new chook owner.
Our new chooks Mabel and Myrtle, reminded me of how tough it can be to do the right thing and let go of being approved of or popular. Even from chickens!!
When we collected our new chooks, we were advised by Patty, the poultry breeder, to keep them in their coup for one week to get used to their surroundings and feel safe before venturing out into the world of our front garden. They did not seem to be enjoying their time cooped up in the coup. They made several escape attempts, protest pecks agains the wire and warbles of 'please let us out'.
I was tempted to let them out before the week was up, because I thought they would be happier and they would be happier with me too! I rang Patty who repeated her initial instructions, to leave them cooped up for the week to keep them safe. It was just like parenting kids, strong compassion is not always liked or appreciated. The chooks were not happy!
As parents we have a responsibility to keep our children and others safe and to set clear and fair boundaries to promote respect and responsible behaviour. In the worlds of Maria Montessori, "To let the child do as he likes when ha has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom". You can also sub in chook for child.
Such decisions do not always make us the most popular parents, friends or chook owners. And its hard not be approved of or popular with others. One of my kids once wrote a whole essay entitled 'Don't you hate it when your parents say - I am doing this for your own good!" When we rest in our intention to do our best to set clear, respectful and fair guidelines and limits to protect others from harming themselves or others we can feel good, knowing we are doing our best to promote non-harm.
So Mabel and Myrtle served their time in the coup and have graduated into the front garden during the day. They are used to their surroundings and noises and seem quite settled and happy pecking around the garden. They take themselves off to bed at dusk and are safely tucked up together in the coup for the night.
All because they know where the coup is and feel safe to venture out.
As parents too, the time comes to set our kids free. We can rest in the fact we have done our best to give them a firm foundation and the tools they need to negotiate life's ups and downs. It is time for them to learn all they need to learn and make the mistakes they need to along the way. Someone once said "a mother's job is to teach her children to not need her anymore. The hardest part of that job is accepting that". As parents,friends and pet owners too, we can be there for support and guidance when it is needed, which may include that strong compassion that has others best interests at heart.
Ever find yourself in an uncomfortable situation? Maybe it is being in a situation where you feel inferior, sorry for yourself or lack of some sort. If you are like me you may be tempted to catch the 'complain and blame' thought train with thoughts like - it's not fair! Where did I go wrong? Why me? This is terrible! How come they have what I want? Or why is this happening to me or my family? This is never helpful. The truth is, this situation has arisen and no amount of complaining, blaming or wishing it were otherwise is going to help. So we need to learn some helpful ways to accept and deal with such unwanted situations.
As we discussed previously we compare ourselves or the situations we find ourselves in to others in the e many roles we play. We may do this as parents, children, workers or in any other relationship. It is also never useful to blame or criticise others or ourselves as a result of such comparison. But, it is hard to stop, we are so habituated to think this way. Time to stop catching that 'complain and blame' thought train to Station Devastation and insert a new helpful thought pattern
Instead of comparing yourself or your situation to others and finding lack – do your best to be the best you can. We are all doing our best with what we know at the time. Maybe we didn't know that complaining, blaming and being ungrateful were destructive to our happiness.
I boldly made a Facebook post during the week where I attempted to go 24 hours without complaining, at least outwardly. It was so interesting to watch the complaining soundtrack in my head and I was so tempted on may occasions to give it a voice.
Interestingly, I woke on my 'complaining fast' day with a sore back. "Oh, no I thought - I said I was not going to complain today and now I have a sore back!" Now, I don't want you to misunderstand me here - not complaining does not mean I try to ignore or suppress my sore back or smell of burning martyr. My back did hurt, so I heard it, but decided to get on and do what I needed to do with care and consideration of my tender back. I watched my mind as I was tempted to find a possible cause to blame and someone to criticise (including myself). Maybe it was the way I lifted, the pilates instructor, or the weather! How useful is going on that blame and complain train? No use at all!
So instead I remembered I was not going to complain and when I was asked how I was, I said my back was reminding me to take things carefully today. Every time that thought or worry or complaint came up - I reassured it that I was being careful and was safe. I was able to do all I needed to do, maybe a little slower than usual, and with some rests and also, thankfully with some help from friends.
By accepting the situation with kindness and compassion for myself instead of
- pushing ti away or
- charging on regardless with martyrdom or
- blaming or criticising others or
- feeling sorry for myself with - Why me? and What have I don't wrong?
I was able to break past unhelpful habits and get on to do what I needed to do, which included taking some breaks.
When something unwanted happens, Instead of comparing yourself and finding yourself wanting, complaining, ungrateful and blaming, count your blessings and remember all that you have to be grateful for.
Maybe you would like to give the 24 hours 'Complaining Fast' a go - Do it and watch how you life starts changing for the better. I would love to hear how you go.
Need some help changing unhelpful habits and that negative critical soundtrack, to a more pleasant inner voice? I would love to work with you. You can get started now by -
Clicking on the image below to do the free 'Peace of Happiness' three day course