Nov 24 2011
“I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous.”-(Goethe) Something happened recently that has motivated me to claim that power in a big way. I want to share it with you, as well as some of the tools that are helping me do that.
Dr. John Gottman has been researching marriages for twenty years and one of his biggest discoveries is that unless there are at least five positive expressions, such as appreciation, laughter, and love, to every negative expression, like criticism, complaining, and anger, the relationship will likely be an unhappy one and will most probably fail. I believe that is also true of our relationship with ourselves and with life. Unless we have a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative thoughts and expressions in our lives we will be unhappy and continue to perpetuate that unhappiness.
Tom and I were talking recently and realized that coincidentally in 1970 we were both feeling suicidal. He had just returned from the horrors of being a medic in Viet Nam, and I was clinically depressed. At that time we had far more negative thoughts than positive, and the result was pain and misery. We’ve come a long way from that state of unhappiness. Our relationship and our lives are so happy now because we have beaucoup positive expressions and interactions.
However, recently something happened that flipped the equation in me and I’ve been aswirl in negative energy. A person in my life verbally attacked me, shaming and blaming and speaking to me contemptuously and derisively. That unleashed my inner guard dog big time! “Stop! You are being abusive!” I put a decisive stop to the tirade, setting a strong boundary and expressing healthy anger. I felt proud of myself.
However, for the next week my inner guard dog continued to be barking mad. My mind kept returning to the incident, rehashing it, chewing on it like a pitbull with a meaty bone. The abuse had triggered old, deep wounds from childhood and I was in survival mode, fighting for my life…at least in my mind I was.
When I would notice my inner tirade, I talked to my guard dog (who I named Jake) and I’d say, “Thank you for protecting me. You did a great job! You stopped the abuse. And, I want you to know that we’re safe now. The danger is past. You can calm down.” I’d take deep breaths and return to the present moment. But soon Jake would be barking mad all over again about the abuse. My mind persisted in compulsively chewing on that old bone, and as a result I was creating my own misery.
I kept repeating the Goethe quote: “I have tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous.” I recognized that this was an opportunity to do some deep healing of this old wound. Maybe I’ve carried this anger for many lifetimes. Maybe it even contributed to my having cancer. Before I leave this earth I am determined to heal this wound. You know the saying, “Don’t die with the music still in you”? I don’t want to die with the anger still in me.
As I intently committed to healing this, I could feel the energy of my anger being transmuted into strength and determination. Yes! I can do this! I felt excited and galvanized. I have the tools now to help me remove this trauma from my being. Whenever I became aware that anger had taken over again, I took a deep breath, repeated the Goethe quote, then started doing EFT meridian tapping while saying the ancient Hawaiian Ho’oponopono words of reconciliation at least five times: “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” I directed those words towards my inner wounded one, AND (harder to do), towards the wounders (because, like me, they are wounded themselves).
I actually started feeling grateful to the person who triggered my anger with their verbal attack. I’ve heard that the highest form of forgiveness is when you’re able to say, “Thank you ‘for giving’ me this opportunity to heal and grow.” I was genuinely able to say this to that person.
My ratio of positive to negative is once again in proper order and I feel happy and at peace. I know that the quality of my life is determined by the thoughts and energy I choose to steep myself in all day. My thoughts create feelings of well-being, or being stuck IN a well. I feel empowered knowing that I can choose what energy I want to feel and perpetuate. I can BE the peace and happiness that I want to have in my life. Goethe wrote:
“I have come to the frightening conclusion that
I am the decisive element.
It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
It is my daily mood that makes the weather.
I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous.”
We all have tremendous power to make our lives miserable or joyous. Would you like to join me this week in the 5 to 1 ratio, finding 5 appreciations to every one complaint? I think we can create magic!