Bring awareness to and appreciation for your whole self
Hijacked by ‘happy thoughts’ — What? How can that be, right?
When we are told by the New Thought, Law of Attraction philosophy that thinking positive or negative thoughts reaps positive or negative experiences — I think things can slip through the cracks leaving us to wonder, where am I getting it wrong? Does that mean that anything ‘not happy’ should be judged as bad and of no value?
And what am I supposed to do with all of these other emotions that don’t exactly fall into the happy category, you know, the ‘in betweens’, that gray chasm of learning?
We can’t pretend our experience away…and I don’t think we should.
Happy is a great end goal, but if we think that everything should fall into that single category, we’re setting ourselves up for a fall right out of the gate.
Frankly, I’m a perpetual work-in-progress navigating my way through this thing called life — and as long as I’m alive, something tells me I’ll be feeling, expanding and reaching for more of me. And yes, that will likely include some more stumbles, but it will also include getting back up, dusting off and carrying on — and making sense of my experience, threading it’s gifts into the tapestry of my life.
While ‘happy’ is great, that alone can’t shift the life needle — and it’s certainly not the whole story. We are so much more than that. I don’t believe over-simplifying helps us. I actually feel like it can hijack us, leaving us to believe, maybe my thoughts just aren’t happy enough.
Why aren’t we all happy, especially if it’s as easy as they say?
Maybe it isn’t that simple after all. Maybe it isn’t meant to be (bear with me). And maybe if we can settle into all of our full life experience — feeling what is bubbling up within us and unfolding all around us — we can pick up the cues of where to go next, and how to extract the juicy life-lesson nuggets.
I recently realized that, while I pride myself on being a good Mom who consciously works to raise a young man in this world — perhaps I have been going about communication skipping a key beat.
I know we are meant to place our focus on silver linings and glasses being half full rather than empty, but think of the message that delivers: only show up with good news.
What about the rest of the picture? What are our kids (friends, colleagues, partners, etc.) supposed to do with that? An essential aspect of communication that we need to impart, particularly with our boys, to whom society is constantly telling to ‘buck up’ and ‘man up’ — is to share the things that aren’t so great: the shame, vulnerability, disappointments, fear, hurt, anxiety, etc. But, clearly, these emotions are not gender specific.
I have a high achieving kid in both academics and sports. He simply came out of the womb hardwired like that. It’s who he is. And truth be told, as a result of that — sometimes it feels like he’s so together that I don’t have to micro-manage things. I was the same way as a kid and you know what happens to kids like that? They grow up into adults who people don’t ask, how are you doing? Why? Because they have perfected that exterior façade of: I’ve got it all handled.
When I started to think about it lately, I recognized the pattern of his presenting grades and awards to me on a silver platter — but what about the other stuff? It hit me that he wasn’t sharing that in the same way and I needed to support him in doing so.
Not talking about those things doesn’t make them disappear. It actually makes us suffer in silence and can create greater distance between our ability to connect the dots of our lives, body, mind and spirit.
If we download the message that we can only show up with good news, we’ve got to subconsciously figure out where to shove the not-so-good stuff.
Sharing what’s really going down with those we trust, helps us process and move through it (operative words being ‘move through it’). Look, I want us all to be happy, genuinely happy…so that means we might have to move through the not-so-happy to get there.
If you speak to most parents, they would likely express a desire to give their children more than what they had growing up. Most would think that pertains to physical things like money, education, experiences. But what about the emotional component — what would more of that support look like? I want to give my kid tools to navigate this human experience that I have spent most of my life figuring out. Now that would be a leg up in life!
This isn’t about looking for problems. In fact, it’s the opposite. In teaching our children to share their insecurities and vulnerabilities in a safe space, they stay connected to them for as long as they need. More importantly, they understand that it’s all important, it all matters. They can then identify those emotions rather than bury them away, only to excavate them if they’re lucky, on a therapist’s couch decades later. The same goes for you and me.
So instead of just being consumed by pleasantries around the dinner table, I’m practicing asking more questions like these:
- Did you struggle with anything today?
- Anything disappointing happen today?
- How are you feeling about things (friends, classes, experiences, the news, etc.)?
- Has anything triggered you emotionally today?
Probing questions can create deeper connection in relationships and with ourselves. It also creates a space for us to collectively come together to problem solve.
You know, one of the biggest reasons we don’t get what we want in life, be it relationships, financial success, better health, or career moves is simply because we stop believing and experiencing — and showing up.
But how can we show up for something we’ve either been told to get over as soon as possible or suppress?
You’ve got to show up for your desires, your dreams and your feeling self. If you don’t, who will?
I don’t know if everything happens for a reason, but I do know that when there is resistance and I resist, I create more of the same — so yes, the law of attraction plays a role here. I guess you could say that I land somewhere in the middle between thinking happy thoughts and trying to feel all the un-happy ones as well. I believe there’s a sweet spot.
Don’t get me wrong, I strive for happy every day. I work hard to bring forth attention to all aspects of my life and to notice what is emerging around me. I listen to how that makes me feel (the good, the bad and the ugly). I also pay attention to what’s not working so I can figure out what it’s trying to teach me.
Thinking happy thoughts puts the ball in motion in the right direction. That paired with the acknowledgement of what you are actually experiencing at any given time, helps you connect to your powerful and knowing self. Pay attention to the whole of you. Nurture that in yourself and others. No more hiding. With that self in place, nothing can hijack your happy.
As always, I love hearing from you. Do you struggle with the notion that if we just think ‘happy thoughts’, than our troubles will melt like lemon drops? How does this show up for you? I’d love to know how you handle it in the comments below.