A Note to Over-Thinkers Everywhere — Because I’m a REALLY Slow Learner!

A few years ago, I discovered something remarkable that has changed my life.

I found out you don’t HAVE to think about stuff.

When someone has been hurtful to you, you don’t have to replay those memories over and over again.

You don’t have to give the Disrupters in your life air time. You aren’t going to “figure things out” by going over them again and again in your mind. You aren’t going to have “a better understanding” of people by rehashing “he said/she saids” as if you can create a different past or orchestrate a future free of discord.

When someone is unaware of their crappy behavior, you don’t have to point it out to them. You can just put your attention elsewhere!

This is true even if this person is a regular part of your life.  The exception here is if the behavior is abusive.  Then you DO need to act.

Otherwise, though, there are really very few circumstances where you need to “go over things” with a person who repeatedly brings you trouble. You can’t change other people. It’s a better investment in time and energy to change you.

Here are some things you CAN change about yourself:

You CAN decide not to be upset by stuff.

If you aren’t able to be nonreactive to other people’s stuff, you CAN decide to limit the amount of time you spend being upset by their stuff.

If you can’t limit the amount of time you spend being upset by their stuff, you CAN decide to ask for help with YOUR obsession with their stuff (that’s what it is, Sweet Pea, when you can’t stop thinking about stuff.)

So, anyway, you can decide to get help with your obsession – you CAN talk to a counselor, a mentor, your partner, etc.

And then, after you’ve talked with someone you trust, you CAN decide to get up off your butt and put your attention elsewhere. You CAN take a walk, or bake a cake, or clean out a closet and give stuff to the local Goodwill or something.

Service work will help you get out of your own head. It will bring you perspective and gratitude. And it will also prove to you that you have something to give. That means you are worthwhile. That means your life is worthwhile. That means that all is not lost.

What you don’t HAVE to do is “figure stuff out.”  In fact, you don’t even have to THINK about that stuff!

Nope. If you have repeated trouble with someone, and they don’t want to work on it with you, then your only choices – the only ones that will bring you peace anyway – are to ACCEPT that this is the way things are. Or, to CHANGE yourself – your expectations, your responses.

You could, for example, give up your RIGHTS.

But “it’s not fair!” you say?

So what … now what?

Who says life is fair? Is it fair that while we are complaining about our spouse, our school system, our politics, our economy, our whatever – right at this moment – there are other women who have to walk MILES just to get water to keep their kids alive today?

Is it fair that, while we are griping about how broken our health care system is, other women in other places are holding their children while they die of completely curable childhood illnesses simply because they were unlucky enough to be born somewhere without access to basic medical services?

Is it fair that, while we are bitching about stuff with our best friends at the local coffee shop, RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT, another woman is trying to keep her kids calm while mortar shells are exploding outside?

Is it fair that your kid has a crappy teacher, but just a few miles away, in a poorer district, another mother’s kid was hit by a stray bullet while playing in their own living room!?

What is fair? Who decides?

If you must DWELL on something, dwell on that.

And after you have had a romp with perspective, come back to your One Beautiful Life and think about what you CAN DO RIGHT NOW to change YOUR PART of the relationships that trouble you.

Can you bring compassion, understanding, and the spirit of forgiveness to everyone you meet? If not, can you at least remove your cloak of martyrdom long enough for a much-needed trip to the cleaners?

If you can’t change the people you live and work with, can you refrain from sulking and silent scorn when in their presence?

Can you stop punishing people for being less than perfect in your eyes? And, can you do all this while still having beautiful compassion for yourself? Can you forgive yourself for not seeing your part?

Wisdom doesn’t mean superiority. Wisdom without compassion and humility isn’t wisdom at all.  It’s hubris.

Seek to be a source of healing today. Bring the spirit of love to everyone you meet – including yourself.

Love, Service, Forgiveness, Truth, Compassion, Humility . . . these are some of the real and eternal things we seek today.

Namaste, Beautiful You!

Love, Jennifer

P.S.  If you have ever been in a “he said/she said”  conversation, PLEASE share this post with your friends via the buttons below.

Photo: Flickr, historic brussels

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25 Responses to A Note to Over-Thinkers Everywhere — Because I’m a REALLY Slow Learner!

  1. Hi Jennifer,

    This is a great post. We live in such a wonderful place and yet we whinge constantly. I think like you do when people in the supermarket complain about a few minutes wait.


  2. Erin Hatton says:

    Love this post. This is so me, though I’m well on the journey to letting it go. I love your analogy of the “cloak of martyrdom”. We don’t often think of it that way, but that’s what it is.

    • Jennifer says:

      It’s an awful feeling to realize we are wearing that horrible old moth-eaten rag, but then you look and feel so much better without it! I’m always glad when people let me know I put it on again — even if it smarts a bit at first.

      Thank you, Erin.

  3. Denise says:

    Hi Jenniffer,
    What a lovely post and great reminder to let negative thoughts go. We all are in charge of our own minds.

    My favorite saying is by a mystic sage…he said “I don’t mind what happens”.

    I always try to think of this when I’m inclined to whine. It also turns me to thinking of others dealing with unbearable situations.

    Thank you for this wonderful post.

  4. Diana says:

    I humbly thank you, Jennifer. I needed this reminder today.
    I appreciate your honest sharing, encouragement and giving heart. You gave me a precious gift today.
    I carry it with me on my journey.

  5. Patty D says:

    Thank you, Jennifer…powerful and timely reminder. This has been one of those sticky areas that I’ve struggled with on numerous occasions. When I start engaging in this behavior, I know it’s time to go back to Step One and affirm my powerless over others.
    love and light

  6. Definitely thought-provoking, and a post to take to heart. Thank you!

  7. Cheryl Rac says:

    Beautiful and inspiring. I especially like your recommended “romp with perspective.” This sort of makes my complaints seem, well, exactly what they are: piddly.
    Thank you, Jen.

    • Jennifer says:

      Isn’t it crazy how things don’t seem so piddly and then, all of a sudden they do? We help each other, love.

  8. Carol Hess says:

    Whew! I feel like I just got a (loving) dash of cold water in the face to make me open my eyes just a bit wider so I can take in just a bit more than my own wee little world. I’m reminded of the good old Serenity Prayer. (I can’t be reminded enough.) “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” 99.9% of the time the only thing I can change is me, and there’s tremendous power in that. Thanks, Jen.

  9. Love, love, love as usual!! I have been talking alot lately about this… I rarely surround myself with “he said/she saids” anymore but we lease a site at a campground of 50 sites… talk about a microcosm of society… it’s fascinating to watch the judgment and assumptions and whisper, whisper… my fave nugget in all of this post was “If not, can you at least remove your cloak of martyrdom long enough for a much-needed trip to the cleaners?”… can you make a greeting card to send to my mom? LOL!!

  10. Jennifer says:

    Hi, Kellly. Where you been, girl?? Welcome back. And that greeting card idea is marketable, I’m sure. Kiss the girls.

  11. Jennifer,

    It took me a while to learn these lessons, especially when it came to my kids.

    My second child (my beautiful daughter and mom of my grandkids) has always had the knack for pushing my buttons. Until recent years I wasted time trying to understand it, fix it, etc.

    Finally, a few Christmases ago I successfully retired those buttons. I didn’t even realize it until the next day when my youngest daughter said, “Congratulations Mom. You didn’t let Sonya push your buttons last night, not one time.”

    The wonderful thing is that not one time did I even recognize that my dear Sonya was trying to push my buttons. Yippee!

  12. Sharon says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Truly words I needed to hear.

  13. Lynne Spreen says:

    I know you’ve probably heard this a million times, but Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, the neuroscientist who suffered, recovered from, and wrote a book about having a stroke at a young age, says when we encounter an awful situation, like an argument, certain chemicals flood the system for 90 seconds. After that, the chemicals dissipate UNLESS we mentally relive the situation. Then we reflood our system. So….. like you said: you CAN choose. Or at least try your best!

  14. Louise says:

    Excellent post. Fabulous metaphor “cloak of martyrdom” oh that just made me jump up and down! I will definitely share this everywhere I can. Thank you.

  15. Gladys says:

    Jennifer, like most life lessons that we don’t learn the first time around, over thinking and trying to change someone other than ourselves, is a lesson that often needs to be repeated until we “get it”. Thanks for the reminder!

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