You made it through all 5 steps!!!! Yay for you! How do you feel? Can you tell a difference? Probably not. This is a lifetime kinda thing. It’s a new way to live your life. And I’m thinking it takes a lifetime to get good at. But, bit-by-bit your life will become more peaceful and happy. Of course you know life is a roller coaster. Sometimes we’re up and sometimes we’re down and in between there are all kinds of twists and turns. Practicing these steps will smooth that out some. Your highs may not be as high, but your lows will definitely not be as low. You will find yourself more in the peaceful middle. Think of this work as chipping away at the pain and sorrow of your life. We all have that. We all have fears, we all have anxieties, we all have depressed moments, we all get angry, we all suffer grief. After years and years of dealing with these negative emotions, they can start to pile up. These steps are like finally being given a sledge hammer to chip away at them. When pieces of pain break apart and fall away, they are replaced with peace and happiness. When you start out, you just break away a little piece. Big deal. You probably don’t even notice it. But if you keep hammering away it, you will chip enough away that you feel better. Pretty soon a whole wall will come down and you will feel lighter. That’s when the pay off really comes. But, it takes time and patience and a commitment to keep trying. You have to keep growing and learning and working to break up the pain. It didn’t show up in your life over night and it will take more than a day to get rid of. The more pain and suffering the more work. Depressing? I hope not. I hope you are excited by this. You finally get to take charge of things. That’s exciting. You are no longer controlled by the whims of fate. Your happiness no longer depends on your significant other or your family or your friends or you job or money – you get the picture. You may not be able to control the fact that you have sadness or anger or whatever, but you do get to control your reaction to it. You do get to fight it and break it apart until it can’t live in you any longer. That’s just it, you see. You don’t get to choose what happens to you, but you can choose how you fight it. You can choose to break apart that pain so that it no longer has a place to live in your heart. And you get to fill that space back up with peace and happiness. You will have bad things happen to you. Nothing can stop that. That’s part of life. But, now I hope you have some tools to help you heal. I know that sometimes life fills us with so much pain, anxiety, depression, grief, sadness and anger that we don’t have room for the happiness. But I hope that now you can fight that. You have the power to make room for the peace that you deserve.
When you start to slip back into your old ways (and you will – at least I do), go back and review these steps again. Keep reading them until they are ingrained in your brain. In fact, this might be a good time for me to go over them again and put them all together. Let’s pick an easy example: A “friend” tells a lie about you and it makes you mad, hurt, embarrassed, betrayed…… all the negative emotions.
1. Own it. Take responsibility for your reaction and your feelings. It’s ok to be mad. It’s ok to be hurt. It’s ok to be embarrassed. You were betrayed by someone you trusted, someone you thought was your friend. So say to yourself “I’m feeling __________ and that’s ok because it gives me a chance to work on healing myself.” Just that easy and step 1 is done.
2. Remember you can’t read anyone’s mind. You don’t know why your friend did what they did. You don’t know why people chose to believe them. You could ask them, but they may not tell you the truth. Knowing the whys won’t change anything that happened, but it might make you feel better. Or it may not. It’s up to you whether you want to ask them or not. But, and here’s where your power comes in, tell yourself “I don’t know what is going on their life to make them do this. I don’t know what is happening in other people’s lives to make them believe this. I will not assume that they are out to get me or that they were trying to be mean to me.” Step 2 is not so easy. This is hard for me. I’ve had someone very close to me tell a horrible lie about me. And people believed it. That was hard. I don’t have to understand it (and I still don’t). I don’t have to let them be a part of my life (and they are not). But for my own peace, I have forgiven them. I don’t hold any ill-will against them because I can’t begin to know what pain they have in their own life that caused them to do this. I can’t read their mind, so I don’t know if they wanted to hurt me or not. So I’m letting it go. They are no longer a part of my life and that’s ok, but I’m not going to be angry with them because that just hurts me.
3. Practice your gratitude specifically with what hurt you. Say something like “I am so grateful that I have my family to help me through this time” or “I am so grateful that I have friends who know me well enough to not believe the lie” or “I’m so grateful that I get this chance to see how strong I am”. It’s not enough to just say “I’m grateful for my health”. You have to find something about the situation to be grateful for. You may have to dig deep, but you will find something. Any little nugget. It could be as small as “I’m so grateful that I have mindless TV to take my mind off of things”
4. Step 4 is a tough one in most situations. That darned Golden Rule. It won’t allow you to seek out your revenge on them. It won’t let you spread lies about them. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. If you can’t bring yourself to be nice to them (I am still not overly nice to the person who lied about me) then just don’t be mean. You don’t want people being mean to you, so don’t be mean to them. Try your best to let it go. This took me over two years to be able to do. That was a long time, but the pain was very deep for me. The good thing is, the more I used these principles the less painful it was. It got easier and easier and my hurt got less and less. I still have it. I’m not sure that will ever go away completely. But I rarely think about it. It doesn’t affect my life. I have space for happiness where once there was only hurt. That is a blessing for me. That is a testament to my desire for happiness. It has nothing to do with them. It’s not about letting them off the hook. It’s about you being happy and finding peace.
5. I didn’t know the power of visualization when this incident happened to me, so I couldn’t use it. But if I did, I think I would have visualized myself in the same room with this person and not caring. I wouldn’t be anxious, I wouldn’t feel like running from the room crying, I just wouldn’t care that they were there. I wouldn’t be talking to them or having fun with them – they would just be in the background. Yep. That’s what I would do. I would put them in the background where they weren’t important and they couldn’t hurt me. I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to them and I wouldn’t visualize myself yelling at them or hurting them (remember visualization is about being in a calm and happy state – not to mention that darn step 4) they would just be a non-issue. They wouldn’t matter one way or the other to me.
Like I’ve said before, practicing these steps won’t have you skipping through a field of daisies singing tunes from The Sound of Music. But having these tools may help to make whatever is happening to you easier to deal with. It may return your soul to a place of peace, a place of love, a place of happiness. That is what I wish for you. Happiness in your soul. I truly believe that you are a perfect child of God and you deserve all of the happiness that a person can hold. It doesn’t matter what you have or haven’t done in the past. It doesn’t matter what you should do in the future. What matters is what you are doing right now. And right now, you get to choose to create space for peace and happiness in your soul!
If you have any questions about the steps, please let me know. Let’s have a “conversation” about being happy in an unhappy world. Let’s blog!
Wishing you much peace,