223 – August 11
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Everyone sees real estate agents as sharks!” said Arlene. “And most of them are. They’re only out for themselves. I have to work really hard to let people know I’m not like that!”
To say Arlene was angry was a complete understatement. She seethed and roiled like a mama grizzly bear that just had her cub taken away from her. She was angry at the people she perceived as sharks in her profession, angry at her husband who wasn’t earning money, angry at her sister who wouldn’t loan her money, angry at her life. When at last she turned her anger inward towards herself, she got depressed. Then she’d get mad again at all the people in her life that caused her pain and upset.
It was a vicious cycle.
Anger had become her comfortable friend. The angry position has power attached to it: You get to be right—and self-righteous, and you get to be a martyr—suffering but absolutely blameless. It’s never your fault. The difficulty is that you can get stuck there forever. If the problem is always in other people, you are powerless to change your situation. It’s impossible to change other people. But if you accept responsibility for your life, realize you create your reality, you can change everything. Because you cause everything.
I asked Arlene how long it had been like this. “Years,” she said. I asked her if she wanted it to change. She said, “Yes.” That gave me permission to help. I explained to her that I saw her trapped in her cycle of anger and that there was a way out. I let her know that it would feel uncomfortable at first, because she was used to her anger and kept it with her out of habit. She needed to break free.
I suggested that she write down everything and everybody she was angry at, in a freeform, let-it-all-out manner. When she had written everything and felt finished, she should go back and rewrite every statement as a positive. For example, if she wrote, “My husband is a burden and never makes any money,” she should reframe it as “My husband is a wonderful support and makes lots of money, too.” This is taking every negative thought—which had operated in her life as a negative affirmation—and making a positive statement out of it. Then four times a day every day she needed to read the positive statements out loud. But most importantly, she needed to stop saying the negative statements. I pointed out that saying positive affirmations for five minutes a day wasn’t going to do a lot of good if she was saying powerful negative affirmations the other twenty-three hours and fifty-five minutes. Tearfully, she agreed to do as I suggested.
Two weeks later, I called to check up on her. She said she was much better, had sold a house, and was rushing off to sell another one. It works if you work it.
“I bless everyone I meet and wish them success and happiness.”
One day, one of my Financial Stress Reduction Coaches called me to tell me about another win. She does her positive affirmations every day, and has been winning more raffles and getting more clients than ever before. “It works so well,” she exclaimed, “it feels like cheating!”
I read this one little bit of wisdom years ago – “If you want things to change, change yourself. Otherwise, they aren’t going to change.”
There is an old story about a traveler who journeys to a new city and encounters a wise woman on the path. “What is that city like?” he asks her.
The wise woman asks, “What was the city like that you just left?”
“Oh, it was terrible,” he said. “People are angry and fighting and rude. No one is helpful, it’s impossible to do business there.”
“I’m sorry,” she answered, “The next city is just the same as the one you left.”
Grumbling, he stomped off.
Another traveler passed by some time later, and asks the wise woman the same question. She replies the same way, too “What was the city like that you just left?”
“Oh, it was wonderful!” he said. “People were kind and courteous, everyone was friendly and business was booming!”
“That’s wonderful,” replied the wise woman. “The next city is just the same as the one you left.”
And the happy traveler looked ahead to many years of good friendships, love and prosperity.