My husband, Michael, and I are on our way to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, with our good friend Ileen. The three of us are attending a conference in the area over the weekend, which will also allow me the chance to meet with Louise. We decided to sneak off and spend the day entertaining our inner kids before the conference begins.
The drive has taken much longer than we'd anticipated, and we are almost out of gas-literally and emotionally. We also got a late start after waiting for the rental-car paperwork to be finalized, and there are now only a few short hours left before the park closes. When Michael, Ileen, and I finally arrive, we drive through the gated entrance and attempt to follow the directions to the parking lot. The signs are confusing, and my husband and I briefly argue about which way to go.
I point in one direction, hoping that I'm right, and no sooner does he make the turn than it becomes obvious I'm not. So, with eyes ever mindful of the empty fuel tank, we are led back onto the highway, heading away from the park without a turnaround (or gas station) in sight. At this point, Michael and I are pretty pissed at each other, but we're too polite to act out in the company of our friend.
The tension of unspoken anger hangs like a heavy drape between us as my ego firmly grabs hold of the situation. I know I pointed in the right direction, but the signs were confusing. If Michael had paid attention, we wouldn't be in this mess. He always waits for me to make decisions. Why didn't he just make the choice himself? On and on my mind goes, mentally chewing the situation to pieces. I'm absolutely convinced that I'm right. Meanwhile, I know Michael well enough to understand that he's busy kicking himself for not trusting his gut and taking the turn he knew he should have taken. Ileen, smart gal that she is, is stone silent in the backseat, patiently waiting for us to unravel this mess.
As I sit there fuming, I think of Louise and the conversations we've had about choosing good thoughts. For a fraction of a second, a door cracks open in my mind and I see a glimmer of light. I consider a different approach. Rather than redecorate hell by arguing about who did what (a practice pointed out to Michael and me by a helpful therapist long ago), I take a chance. I reach over, place my hand on Michael's, and mentally send him love. I don't say a word. And he doesn't move his hand.
I look straight ahead at the road and visualize love flowing from a Divine Source down through my body, out of my hand to his, and then into his heart. I keep this practice going for several minutes, when I feel Michael's energy soften. As I continue to send him love, I notice something interesting. I feel love, too. Instead of fuming about the wrong turn, I'm suddenly more concerned about my husband. My heart softens as I imagine how he must be beating himself up. Why would I want to heap more pain on top of that?
As I send love to Michael, I can feel his defenses relax . . . and before I know it, we come upon a gas station and a turnaround. Thirty minutes later we are laughing and joking as we enter the park, ready to meet Muggles, magicians, and-who knows?-maybe even Harry Potter himself.
When I next meet up with Louise, I share my Harry Potter story. I tell her I'm still surprised by how something so simple could have such a profound effect on our day. So many times, in the middle of some silly argument (and some not so silly), I'd entertained the thought of dropping my defenses and listening with love, but it felt so counterintuitive-like giving in. After all, my ego is masterful at rationalizing a position. Why admit defeat when I've done nothing wrong? Isn't sending love just ignoring the problem? And how are we going to challenge each other to grow if we're not willing to take a stand for what we know to be true?
"The ego has one agenda," Louise tells me. "It wants to be right, and it has a habit of trying to justify its position. It searches for an angle where the other person is clearly wrong. It's a simple idea to think that focusing on a positive outcome or putting love into the situation could work, but it does. In your case, instead of affirming the problem by continuing to complain or argue, you just smiled inwardly, sent your husband love, and discovered that it works!"
While I was aware of the resistance I had to surrendering my ego, I had to admit that Louise is right. It did work.
"Too often we feel like we need to grind everything we can out of a problem," she continues. "We want to find the solution, now! I don't like dealing with problems that way anymore. The more you can turn away from a problem, the quicker the solution comes. That's why I love the affirmation "All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. I am safe." It lifts you totally up and out of the problem into an area where there are solutions. In this place, you're not telling Life how to create the solution-you're just affirming that it's working for everybody.
"Your situation with Michael while driving in the car is a wonderful example because you did so little. You could have argued with him for the rest of the day and you would have both been miserable."
That's for sure. And the truth is that we actually invite positive changes into our relationships when we're soft and open enough to listen. In fact, later that evening, when Michael and I returned to the hotel after visiting the park, we were able to talk about the situation calmly and constructively. Over the years, we've both learned that when there is defensiveness, there is no communication. Nada. No way. Not a chance. We've also learned that it's important to let something go once we've worked through it in a loving way. Bringing it up again or complaining about it after the fact is an invitation for trouble.
"When a problem has been solved, we need to remember that it's gone," Louise instructs. "It has passed. We don't want to dip into the past to be miserable in the present moment. And we don't want to become complainers. People who complain a lot are a pain in the ass for everyone around them. Not only that, but they are doing great damage to their own world. Before we verbalize a complaint, we tend to go over it in our mind-several times, dozens of times, several dozen times, dozens and dozens of times. Depending on what our habit is."
At this point I cringe inside as I think about the amount of energy I've expended over the years complaining about everything from how busy I am to what Michael does or doesn't do. Before understanding the power of my own thoughts, I had allowed this "inner complainer," a chronically irritated gal, to have free rein over my mind and mouth. She constantly griped about the same things over and over again, as if whining about them would somehow make things better.
"Most people have created a habit of constantly complaining in their mind," Louise tells me. "Each time we do this it is an affirmation, a very negative affirmation. The more we complain, the more we find to complain about. Life always gives us what we concentrate on. The more we concentrate on what is wrong in our life, the more wrongs we will find. The more wrongs we find, the more miserable we will become. It's an endless cycle. We become a constant victim of Life."
And that's when we feel like we're stuck in a rut, I add. Once again, that's when we need to get back in the driver's seat and take charge of our thinking.
"Yes. The only person who can stop this negative landslide is whoever is doing the complaining. But first they have to recognize what they're doing. Second, they have to recognize when they're doing it. It is only when we recognize that we're saying a negative affirmation that we can make the change. As people drop this self-damaging habit, they will watch themselves move from being victims to being conscious creators of their lives.
"Whether the habit we want to dissolve is complaining or something else, it is the same process. Notice I said dissolve, not break. When we break something, the pieces are still around. When we dissolve something, the whole experience disappears. I like to think it goes back to the nothingness from whence it came. Habits come from nowhere, and they can go back to nowhere. We all have habits. Some of them really support us, and some are letting us down. We want to select the ones that will contribute to creating love and joy; prosperity; good health; and a happy, peaceful mind."
An excerpt from You Can Create an Exceptional Life
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