I remember the story of a farmer that needed to borrow a plough. He thought to himself, “...I know, I’ll ask farmer Brown down the lane...he’ll lend me his plough”...
So, off he went, tramping down the lane, when a thought occurred to him, “Hang on a minute, I ran over one of his chickens last week and he was none too pleased”. He dismissed the thought, and continued apace. A little further along and another thought crossed his mind, “...and didn’t he borrow my harrow the other month, and he returned it broken?”
A little further on, “...and another thing, he never has sorted out the drainage problem in the lower field between our properties, and he says it’s MY responsibility”. He walked still further, “...and then there’s that broken fence between us and he STILL hasn’t fixed that either”. He stirred himself up so much, that when he knocked on farmer Brown’s door, and he appeared at the door smiling, he said to farmer Brown, “You can stick that ruddy plough where the sun don’t shine!”, and stormed off.
Here is the question, how are YOU stirring yourself up in your thoughts? It is so very easy to give yourself a hard time by negative self-talk, and on top of that you potentially nurture feelings of hostility in another person. Frequently we can feel so overcome by feelings of injustice that we take on the role of Judge, Jury, and Executioner. Remember, feelings come from thoughts, NOT the other way round.
That being the case, here is a thing you might like to try. I warn you, it can be difficult to do this, especially when in a maelstrom of emotion, so you might want to try this when things have calmed down a bit.
In all events relating to future events mentally rehearse a POSITIVE outcome. An outcome that imposes no harm or hurt on another, but one in which you can see yourself coming out of the situation with a good and worthwhile result. The trick is to be persistent in this, and keep rehearsing.
The reason why this can have a good effect is that, simply put, the Unconscious mind, (or your sub-conscious if you like... same thing), does not distinguish between real or imagined events, and also is not particularly aware of the passage or sequence of time. So by mentally rehearsing, when the REAL event occurs, the Unconscious says to itself, “Oh, I’ve been here before, so I’ll have the same feelings and responses that I am familiar with”. Of course we know that the reverse is also true, because we have all heard of someone fearing taking an exam and who becomes so anxious that they cannot perform when the actual event occurs. Another example is when people have convinced themselves that their partner is being unfaithful, and then reinforces this idea with all sorts of substantive evidence, so much so that their partner can no longer stand the jealousy and leaves. Self-fulfilling prophesy. I have a VERY old book, out of print by one Elbert Hubbard that contains the epigram, “When you grow suspicious of a person and begin a system of espionage upon him, your punishment will be that you find your suspicions true”.
Being a hypnotherapist, a great deal of my work involves the telling of stories and metaphors as a way of seeding an idea to someone that may not consciously accept a direct telling. I prefer to work this way, and it is a preference of style rather than being a necessity. The process of storytelling works in the Unconscious mind, which operates largely by employing pattern recognition and stories, (which is why our dreams can be so revealing and most-times not a little curious).
One of my favourites is that of an old cat that found himself wandering down the road, when he came upon a young kitten in a front garden. The kitten was chasing its tail furiously. The older cat looked on, somewhat amused by this, and then said, “Pardon me my son, but why are you chasing your tail so?” The kitten stopped its mad chasing and somewhat dizzily said, “I have concluded that happiness is in my tail, and that when I catch it I shall be happy, but whenever I try for it, it moves out of my reach, and its VERY frustrating”. The old cat smiled sagely, and said, “You are quite right my son, I too have concluded that happiness is in my tail, but I have found that wherever I wander, my tail follows me close behind”.
There are any number of times that I have heard people speak of their partners, or ex-partners disrespectfully, and wishing all kind of tribulations to fall on them. Whereas I understand that with the loss of a relationship there may be an associated loss within the self, or more accurately feeling of loss of self, it is important to remember that you once loved this person.
Whether you were in love with an illusion of what the person was, or whether you projected your own values onto them matters little. How love turns to hate so quickly can be truly astonishing. It is I believe a reaction to a hurt, the automatic reaction to feelings of betrayal, and the feeding of resentment that will poison yourself from the inside out if you allow it to.
If you are fortunate enough you will in time see past that pattern, and instead choose to let go of the negative passions, for it is only by letting go that you are able to hold onto something else. Remember, a closed fist can neither give, nor receive.
Wise Words and Good Advice
One of the most helpful things said to me by someone that had recently gone through a dreadfully acrimonious separation, (and later, divorce), was, “Steve, there is only ONE person that can turn your children against you, and that is... yourself.” This was said in response to me expressing fears about the damage divorce could cause to my relationship with my two daughters.
I look back on those words and realise the great truth in them. I have avoided the trap of using the children as weapons, and thankfully, so has my ex. In fact I can honestly say that my quality time has increased with them more than I had dared hoped.
If I offer any advice, I offer the following: Be a rock for your children, never slander your ex, even if it is truth you are saying, and simply love them, and keep on loving them.