I had a long talk with my mom this morning that left me feeling energized, refreshed, and optimistic. My immediate family has spent the past year focusing on the positive in life and not letting negativity (both people and circumstances) weigh us down. It’s hard to do. It takes a conscious effort to not let your emotions influence your decisions and instead react with love and understanding.
No matter the circumstances, I constantly think back to “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie. I know I mention her book and philosophy quite frequently on my blog, I promise I don’t get paid to endorse her! Her approach to life has just opened my eyes to a new way of living. An easier way of living. The hardest part about being happy, I have learned, is giving up the pleasure you get out of victimizing yourself. I will be the first to admit that it can and usually does feel good to throw a pity party for yourself. When other people join that pity party, it feels even better.
A defining moment in my life was when my counselor, over a year ago now, asked me point blank “are you ready to stop getting pleasure out of suffering and let go of trying to find yourself as the victim in situations?” I sat quietly on his couch, staring at a picture of a cat on his wall. I hate cats, but this cat had become a comforting image to me throughout my therapy. When topics we breached grew intense or uncomfortable, I would focus on that stupid cat.
“No. I’m not ready to let go of that yet.”
It took tremendous effort for me to be that honest with both myself and a man I had known less than 4 months. It was a complete realization of a feeling and tendency I didn’t know I was holding onto. Nobody had ever asked me a question like that before, or questioned my motives. Why would I have thought that there was any other way of living? It was a realization that brought me to tears and shook me to my core.
Ken, my counselor, seemed pleased with my honesty. He replied “well then we aren’t going to try and work on that part of your life right now. We are going to move onto other things.” And we did. Life is like a spider web though, and everything is connected. As we worked through other issues in my life, I realized that I was ready to start being happy without restraint. I was scared, but I felt ready to let go and not take everything so personally. That is where Byron Katie came in. We started using her book as a tool in our therapy sessions and I experienced a freedom and deep happiness like never before.
I still struggle with playing the victim, as we all do. It’s easy, fun, and you get attention. The difference is now I can recognize when I am doing it and remind myself that I have made the decision to not hold on to that old part of me. Life is beautiful, while still messy.
I woke up this morning with a heavy heart, racing brain, and the need to write. I didn’t know what exactly was going to come out, but this has turned into quite the lengthy post! I don’t know if some of my readers may have needed to read this today, or if I needed to write this to remind myself how beautiful life can be, if you are willing to take off your mud-stained glasses.
I have chosen to feel blessed today because of my family. As my mom said this morning, “our family’s biggest problem right now, the thing that is hardest for us to deal with, is that we don’t get to see each other enough. We miss each other and are constantly trying to find ways to be together.” That is our biggest problem. I am blessed.
Some Byron Katie words of wisdom:
“Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it… it’s just easier if you do.”
“Placing the blame or judgment on someone else leaves you powerless to change your experience; taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them”
“As long as you think that the cause of your problem is “out there”—as long as you think that anyone or anything is responsible for your suffering—the situation is hopeless. It means that you are forever in the role of victim, that you’re suffering in paradise.” [favorite]
“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.”
“When they attack you and you notice that you love them with all your heart, your Work is done.” [one of the hardest things to do, but an amazing feeling when you can experience it]
“I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.”
“You move totally away from reality when you believe that there is a legitimate reason to suffer”.”