“It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Eleanor Roosevelt
My mother had a knack for seeing the rotten apple in any basket. She was never happy for someone else’s success; she found a reason they didn’t deserve it or prophesied how they would screw it up. My mother’s view of the world always had a glitch in it somewhere. I’m sure it grew from her own life experiences teaching her that nothing good would ever happen to her. All she knew in her own life were negative events. It shaped how she viewed the world.
“If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.” Author Unknown
My first therapist pointed out that my view of the world was similar and she’d like to take a shot at helping me change it. I didn’t really believe I had the same affliction (as a matter of fact I didn’t really notice how terribly negative my mother’s attitude was!) but I thought, “What can it hurt to try this?”
She told me that she believed a lot of the negative events in my mother’s life and mine were actually brought on by our own thoughts. She said it worked like a magnet; a negative thought actually wills the negative thing to happen. But, a positive thought actually wills a positive event, as well. She said it all has to do with positive and negative energy attracting itself like a magnet will. “Poppycock!” I thought. “I’ll prove to her that she’s wrong.” (Not at all a negative thought!)
She gave me an exercise to try. She said every time I had a negative thought (however small) I should recite out loud “There is enough in the world for everyone.” She said the statement itself (although it needs to be a positive one) is not really the trick. It was the practice of replacing a negative thought with a positive one. The exercise also reveals to you just how many negative thoughts you are actually having. As you continue to practice replacing one for the other eventually you have fewer and fewer negative thoughts because your brain will learn to replace them with a positive one before you are conscious of it.
I was visiting this therapist at the time that Richard and I were struggling with our relationship, I had been laid off from my job and the regional economy was in a major slump. I practiced reciting what became a ‘mantra’ for me for a week. I was amazed at how many times a day I was reciting “There is enough in the world for everyone”! It proved that I had quite a few negative thoughts but I didn’t see any changes in positive events. Richard and I were still struggling with the relationship and finances and there were very few newspaper jobs open because of the economy. One week to the day that I started my little experiment we received an unexpected check in the mail. It wasn’t for much but it was totally unexpected. The telephone company was returning a deposit we had made one year earlier. Now, you may say we would have gotten that check whether I was chanting or not but we got it then. It was enough to keep me chanting for another week.
Within that next week I had very serious employment conversations with a Newspaper Advertising Director in the Chicago area. It seemed to be a terrific opportunity for me to move my career forward. I was skeptical about whether or not Richard would think it was a good idea to move halfway across the country so I kept chanting. He initially agreed I should go to interview. I was offered the job. Would Richard really uproot himself from his boyhood home for a job for me?
“Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.” Dave Barry
It seemed to be perfect timing because our middle child was living on her own, our son had moved back home but had a friend to move in with and our youngest child was entering college the following month. But still I thought I was in for a real battle. No one was more surprised than me when he readily agreed!
What started with a ‘chanting ritual’ seemed to be actually turning things around! I was sold on this ‘positive thoughts’ thing. I’ve been so sold on it that I’ve expanded it to positive speech and positive attitude and actions, as well.
“Give to the world the best that you have, and the best will come back to you.” Madeline Bridges
People are now very surprised to see me in a bad mood or to hear a negative statement from me. When asked, “How are you?” I answer, “I’m fabulous! How are you?” even when I’m not feeling that fabulous. I’ve found that positive statements breed a positive environment no matter what the situation.
LESSON: What we project comes back to us. Negativity breeds negative events. Positive thoughts and behavior breed positive events.