I noticed quite by accident the other day that I’m becoming a nicer person. And I give all the credit to Eckhart Tolle. Learning how to be kind to people that hurt me in the past has not been my strong suit.
Last Saturday was a beautiful spring day, and also one of the first days in recent history that Bob felt well, so we decided to take a drive up to visit our son at school to take him out to dinner. His college is only an hour and a half away. Oh yeah, and we brought my mother-in-law with us.
It was actually my idea to invite her. Dottie is in her 80’s and healthy. She is a perfectly nice person. But as her daughter-in-law, we have not had much a friendly and loving relationship in my 21 year marriage to her son. We are cordial, but have never been close. Although we live in the same town, we have never gone out to lunch or gone shopping or done anything together (and it was not for lack of me trying).
As a young mother I used to want to be close to her, especially since she lives in the same town as me, and my mother is 3 hours upstate. She is very close to her daughter (Bob’s sister) and his children, and not so much with Bob and I and our son. She very much favored her daughter and other grandchildren over the years, and I have held a lot of resentment towards her and felt rejected by her in the past for this.
I know, I know it’s none of my business. Well over the years, this mental stuff from the past made it hard for me to be around her for long periods of time. Even now it can be hard. Old stuff comes up in my head, like one of the times Bob was in the hospital for 5 days and she only visited once for an hour. Things like that.
So you all know I have been practicing mindfulness and studying being present and striving to live in the Now since last summer.
Can I tell you last Saturday ended up being a very nice day? I was so pleasantly surprised- and this was all because there was a shift in me 🙂
I made myself pay attention to where my mind was going and noticed whenever I was thinking judgmental thoughts about Dottie.
They started up almost as soon as we picked her up, which was really no surprise. I did realize the car ride would probably be challenging for me, as my internal emotions can feel very strong, almost to the point of overwhelming at times. (I remember driving long distances to weddings and things with her in the car and feeling like I was going to jump out of my skin.) So I was on guard for my old negative thought patterns.
Whenever the negativity started, I would try my best to catch it and just notice it. I would feel the emotion without labeling it and then watch it dissipate by just breathing and being present in the moment.
This is something I learned from listening to The Power of Now on CD. It is one of the most useful tools for me for turning my life around from bleak and negative to more balanced.
So long story short, I was able to notice negative thoughts, sit with them and be present and watch them dissipate. And then all that was left was this:
Three people in a car driving on a beautiful spring day. It was so ok and not hard to be there at all.
I was so grateful to not feel all constricted and weird about having her with us.
I was able to drop my attachment to those old stories of how she never really liked me and how she did this or that. Sort of like watching a cloud pass by overhead… I was truly just in the moment, and not being carried away in my head into those old stories of hurt and bitterness. It was such a wonderful sense of freedom.
And then something else happened. Part of me opened up and not only did I notice I could be with Dottie and not feel negative- I noticed I could also actually be appreciative of noticing what was going on around me:
- I observed her talking to my son and witnessing their relationship and being appreciative of it.
- I observed her just enjoying being with us and having a nice day out.
It felt sooooo good to be with her and not judge and feel negative. I loved that I could be with her without projecting any old stories or negativity on her and us and thereby ruining the day.
I can say I felt genuine, authentic kindness towards her.
This may seem like a little thing to some, but for me it was a big deal. It made all the difference in turning what potentially could have been a stressful and not fun day for me into something light and free and good. 🙂
I am so grateful. I doubt he’ll ever see this, but Thank You Eckhart Tolle, I learn so much from The Power of Now. I really think that Living in the now and not projecting into the future or rehashing the past opened up a space in me and is teaching me how to be kind. Even to someone who triggers me emotionally. This to me is true emotional freedom- and something I want more of for sure! 🙂
Lisa Arcelia xo
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