The photos below show Griffin with his BFF – yesterday and 5 years ago.
They became fast friends in first grade when Will’s family moved to Asheville, but then they moved away two years later. (Long-time readers may remember that we visited them on their yacht in Greece two years ago!)
Even though the family now lives in England, we’ve managed to get Griffin and Will together to celebrate Will’s birthday (on July 17th) ever since they became friends over 5 years ago. This week we met at the beautiful Bear Lake Reserve.
If you’ve been reading my blog for the last few months, you know that I’ve been supporting many friends and family as they go through one life-exploding crisis after another.
Life would be so much easier and SO much better if everyone would simply conform to our own perfect way of doing things, wouldn’t it?
Fortunately, I’ve learned to care more about my happiness than being right, and that’s where Byron Katie’s The Work has been SO helpful.
By doing The Work, I stopped being frustrated with my husband and son and their inability or unwillingness to do things exactly the way I like them to be done.
But you know what? A really big light bulb went off when I realized that they were not creating disorder in order to show a lack of respect or love for me, which is how I often received it.
Yes, of course, it’s frustrating to discover that your husband forgot to pay an important bill again (insert any other frustrating behavior here) but when you think about it, is that what’s really bothering you?
I can almost guarantee you that it’s not.
But, again, I can almost guarantee that the bad feelings about any undesirable circumstance mean something else to you. So consider what that is. I’ve written an article about this before, but it bears repeating:
Your current reality is not really what’s upsetting you. In fact, the state of your emotions isn’t caused by the present situation, though the reverse is often true.
In Eckhart Tolle’s (for me life-changing) book, A New Earth, he writes, “External reality always reflects back to you your inner state.”
In the words of A Course in Miracles, “An idea doesn’t leave its source.”
I take that to mean that everything occurring in our lives is a result or reflection of our thoughts and feelings.
Every time I see anyone, depending on how I choose to think about them, I am deciding how I will see myself.
In the previous article I gave one suggestion for seeing “the gift” in the undesirable, but in this article I’ll give you another:
The questions that follow are from Byron Katie’s “Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet” (which you can download using this link.)
- Who angers, confuses, saddens, or disappoints you, and why? What is it about them that you don’t like?
- How do you want them to change? What do you want them to do?
- What is it that they should or shouldn’t do, be, think, or feel? What advice could you offer?
- What do they need to do in order for you to be happy?
- What do you think of them? Make a list.
- What is it that you don’t want to experience with that person again?
So in the example of the unpaid bill (and this did just happen with my husband, too) The Work would look like this:
I am annoyed at Doug because he forgot to pay the bill and I wasted a lot of time and energy resolving the issue. I want Doug to remember to pay a bill in a timely manner. I want him to apologize for inconveniencing me. Doug should follow my system for paying bills immediately upon receiving them. I need Doug to pay a bill on time. Doug is absent-minded, careless, unappreciative and disorganized. I don’t ever want to feel annoyed by his behavior again.
I’ve written before about Byron Katie’s “Four Questions” (here’s one) — and it’s important to note here that you should plan to do that exercise immediately after you do the Judge Your Neighbor exercise.
Katie’s four questions really help me delve into the stress I’m creating for myself by believing the thoughts that the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet has helped me make explicit.
At the same time, though, drawing on Katie’s work, I have also become adept at doing what I call the “quick turnaround.”
For example, when I have a negative judgment (that, again, is causing me stress), I have learned to easily come up with at least three genuine and specific examples of how I have also transgressed – how I have been absent-minded, careless, unappreciative and disorganized – maybe not with the bills, but in other ways, like the maintenance of my car or, here’s the kicker – in my relationships with others.
Once I admit that, it’s much easier to have compassion or patience with my husband. But more importantly, it’s easier to see that my bad feelings are not about my husband, or the bill, at all.
They’re about me. Usually the real cause of the bad feelings is that I’m not feeling valued or appreciated – or, even more to the point, I’m not valuing or appreciating myself enough.
And when I can do that, I don’t mind so much about the bill, or that I haven’t been appointed Queen of the Universe (yet).