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It’s Not About You.

Yesterday I wrote some tips on Living Happier Through the Holidays.  One of my tips was to remember that frequently when someone spews negative energy at you, it is about them not about you.  So I recommended that you don’t take on that energy. This tip is one of those that take years to fine tune. It is very challenging not to take in what other people tell us–to not take their advice, their negativity, their pain.

So I have to confess that after posting that tip I had that lesson taught to me multiple times yesterday.  In the spirit of full confession and the idea of spiraling up I thought today, I would share a couple of lessons I learned about the concept of it’s not about you.

My first lesson came early yesterday morning, after posting to my blog I went out for my morning walk with my dog, Mocha.  As we were walking, a woman was walking her dog across the street from us. I admit I wasn’t paying attention and as her dog began to bark at Mocha, Mocha lurched across the street wanting to play with the other dog.  Because I wasn’t paying attention, I didn’t pull Mocha back fast enough, and she headed out into the street.  The woman began yelling at me saying that I needed to control my dog (never mind that her dog started it with the barking, and Mocha is about as gentle as a down comforter, she merely wanted to play).  As we walked away from the ‘altercation,’ I immediately started beating myself up, “I should have been paying attention, I should have a tighter control of Mocha, blah, blah blah.”  Then I remembered what I had just said on my blog, and I thought, ok this woman is having a bad day. Yes, maybe I should have been paying attention, but her reaction did not fit the situation.  So after a little mental chatting with myself, I moved on and enjoyed my walk with Mocha.

Then again, yesterday afternoon I was chatting with a friend, and she was giving me advice about another relationship in my life.  Her advice was unsolicited and also hit a strong nerve. She hit one of my hot buttons (that honestly, she didn’t know about) and that advice triggered a slew of negative messages that had been put there years ago through multiple experiences, people, and situations.  So I began to spin and spin on this advice which was more about her view of relationship (advice usually is more about the other person which is why it is rarely helpful). Fortunately, I called another friend of mine who is also an avid reader of my blog, and she jokingly and lovingly pointed out the story of Buddha that I had written about yesterday.  She was right!  I was taking on the advice and allowing it to infiltrate my self-esteem, allowing it to trigger my negative thoughts and beliefs.  With the help of this friend, I eventually was able to unhook the negative beliefs and had a wonderful evening baking Christmas cookies.

Yesterday, I realized not only is Living Happier an ongoing event–something we have to work at every day of our lives–it involves a constant level of awareness.  We constantly receive messages that could cause us to spin and that spinning becomes an almost comfortable habit.  I admit pulling out the hammer and clubbing my back with it is a habit, it tends to be my first reaction, it is my go to.  I need awareness around changing that.  Now at least I recognize when I am activating that old habit.  That awareness comes with the intention to change it, the action of reaching out to get help and then perseverance to resist the old habit of going negative.  A few years ago if advice from a friend had triggered a negative spin-off, I would have used that as a reason to hammer myself for the rest of the night, dragging out all my old negative stories and beliefs. I would have then drowned my sorrows in a bag of chocolate and bad TV. Fortunately, as I spiral up, I can unhook those beliefs and live happier!

What are some of your ‘go to’ negative habits?

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