It's been a few weeks since I've updated this blog. After signing my book deal with Simon and Schuster I found I went through many emotions: numbness - my brain couldn't comprehend what had happened; excitement - where I couldn't sit still; the need to be domestic - I cleaned, bought new sheets and housewares, and I even decided to cook (a very rare activity for me). Though I skated, danced, and went out with friends, I found myself staying in to go to bed early so I could read. During this downtime I had time to listen to my thoughts. Though everything was going great in my life I realized how often the chatter in my head turned to complaints and judgements - it wasn't a pretty revelation. While driving to the rink I bitched about other drivers. While listening to the radio I complained about the nonsense of pop culture and the fact that people were still caring about the dang Kardashians (Did I spell that right? Oh who cares.). I was grumpy when I got cut off at the rink by another skater or if the music was driving me crazy because the rink had decided to play non-stop Disney. Then there were the wonderful automated phone systems I dealt with when calling customer service - nothing ticked me off quicker.
I know I'm not alone in these petty annoyances, but I sounded rather ornery.
I decided that I would try to change my pattern - basically stop the internal bitching. You'd think it would've been easy, but it's wasn't. I began to realize that many of my conversations with others had a negative spin. Worse, we were enjoying our negative conversation like a couple of addicts. I would actually say to myself when I knew I was going to say something judgmental, "I'll just do this one more time and then I'll stop." I'm horrified to find out that there's a part of me that enjoys my negativity. Then there's the world in general. Our media is filled with gossip, bad news, and general complaining. Tell someone something positive and they respond, "Oh it must be nice. If you only knew what I've been going through lately."
I sat in church on Sunday and asked God for a little help with this issue. As I did, the woman next to me leaned over and complained about the new mass the Catholic church is now using. (Don't you just love how quickly the universe will respond to a request. It's like it was saying, You want to be more positive here's a challenge right in front of you.) I knew she was angry about the changes and that she felt they moved the church backwards in time instead of progressing to the modern age. It was her first time dealing with the changes and she'd come with her feathers ruffled and no matter what was going to be good about the mass she was going to choose anger. This woman is one of the most positive people I know, but there was no way she was going to release her anger.
This morning as I was stopped at a red light I looked at the people around me. To the right of me was a man in a very nice Lexus sedan who looked exhausted and miserable. To the left was a woman in a large truck with anger on her face. But in front of me was a junky old car with two young women. They had crazy knit caps on their heads and they wore huge sunglasses. They were dancing in their front seat to a song they obviously loved and the car was bouncing. I watched them in their rear-view mirror as they laughed with joy. All of us were at the same stop light waiting in traffic, yet they were taking this precious moment to live fully.
I don't know what it is about human nature that we choose to make ourselves miserable. There is always something good to look at yet we spend our time focusing on the anger, pain, hurt, and negativity. It's something we seem trained to do. Though I'm great at being grateful for the life I live and I spend most of my day seeing the good, I too seem hardwired to complain. Eckart Tolle says that there's a part of us that enjoys and feeds off of pain. I guess the question is how much do we allow that part to thrive or are we willing to work at starving it of it's negativity till it dies?
I guess it comes down to one question - Are you going to bounce the car or are you going to sit there and bitch inside your head? It's a choice whether you recognize it or not.