I like to walk around our beautiful neighborhood in the morning. It is one of the things that make me happy. I do it to warm up my body and mind, get my creative juices flowing (into the voice recorder on my mobile phone) and be ready for another great day.
About half way through my walk, when I was already going at a good pace and feeling pretty pumped, I saw a young Chinese woman leaving one of the houses and saying goodbye to a young man standing on the doorstep.
Suddenly, the young woman noticed a bus at a stop about 200 meters away. She became visibly uptight, her pitch rose and she looked like she was asking the young man what to do (as I do not speak Chinese, this is all my interpretation).
The man gestured towards the bus and looked like he was urging the woman to run for it and try to catch it. She kept pleading with him until he joined her and they started running toward the bus stop.
By the time they decided to run and crossed the street, I had been half way to the bus and it was still there. There were no passengers in sight, its doors were closed and it kept waiting.
In our time, pressure seems to be everywhere. There is a wealth of information like never before, which means we could find out about anything we wanted, only this takes time, so we look for “drip feeds” that will give us up-to-the-minute updates and we assume our sources do a reasonable job at finding and telling things as they are.
Reality is a bit different, unfortunately. Most of our information feeds are controlled by a fairly small group of huge profit-driven conglomerates, which make their money by selling. To sell well, they need people to “see red”, so they inspire fear via TV news broadcasts, bold newspaper headlines and various other methods.
The result of this is the general view that violent crime is everywhere, that different people cannot live together in harmony and that all too often, the only way to sort things out is to wage war on another ethnic group or country, even at the cost of “friendly” life.
As a partner, a parent and a person, it is likely you find yourself in familiar situations, feeling the same familiar feeling and wondering how you got there. It may be as you walk in the door after a long day at work. It may be when some misunderstanding with your partner or your (teenage) child quickly escalates to an unpleasant exchange of verbal blows. It may just be when you look in the mirror.
All negative feelings are some form of fear and that fear is a defensive feeling aimed at protecting our self from being hurt. Some part of us recognizes certain words or behaviors as a form of attack raises the alert by creating this protective feeling.
The thing is, the “attack” pattern may have been saved in our mind when we were little and certainly in a particular context, both of which are longer in effect. However, our reaction is a subconscious one, which means there is no time for logic, but also that to get rid of this type of reaction we must “talk” directly with our subconscious (this is called Neurolinguistic Programming or NLP).
Picture yourself sitting in an old cinema all by yourself, watching a movie. Turn your head towards the back wall and see there a big window. Behind the window, there is a projection machine. In that machine, a long, wide film is running, a film you have created.
A strong light travels through the film towards the screen. You can see the beam of light getting wider as it travels through the air, showing flickers of colors and movement inside it. Follow the beam of light with your eyes as it keeps on going and getting wider, until you are facing forward and looking at a huge screen, which practically fills your entire fields of vision.
As you look, you become absorbed in the movie, finding yourself emotionally attached to some of the characters, fearing some of the others, hating a few and getting carried away with the story.
Real life is very much the same. We become absorbed in our own story, which we project onto the world. When we interact with other people, we each look at our own “film” and can get into all kinds of trouble.
At the end of high school, my teen daughter Eden took a personal development course for teenagers and came back very disappointed. In a two days workshop, every speaker talked about hitting rock bottom before finding the light and that light, for some reason, was a way to make money.
She paced back and forth and stormed, “I never see myself not having money for food or sleeping in my car because I have no home to sleep in. I never see myself without a family to support me. All I got from these presenters was that I must get very low if I want to be successful, which means I’ll never be successful. What kind of motivation technique is this?”
I said to her, “I’m sure that’s not what they meant” and tried to convince her to find something she could still learn from her experience, but it was no good.
4 years later, I think this course has done more damage to her attitude than I thought initially (although it may still contribute to her personality and attitude towards life in a positive way).
The world is full of different people, with whom we have relationships of varying closeness and intimacy. More often than not, we find ourselves in conversation with someone wanting to say something, but saying something completely different, because saying what we think would produce the wrong results. This even happens with our partner sometimes, not to mention the kids.
Absolutely everybody receives some criticism in life. Some of us have the misfortune of growing up with critical parents, while others bump into their first critic at school, but we all have to face criticism at some point, right?
You may have noticed this about yourself or the people around you, but being happy can be a bit of a challenge. Sure, there are moments of joy and elation, but they do not seem to last very long and then we go back into, well, “normal” life.
Why is this? Better yet, once we know why this is, how can we benefit from this knowledge to become happier?
The word “lesson” makes most people see themselves sitting in a class with a teacher talking at the front. Many times, it brings up extra homework and fear about being tested on subjects learned. What a shame, because life is a long lesson, with lots of work (at home and outside of home) and daily tests!