Maternal Influences

Well, I am certainly beaming today. I’m walking along at a brisk pace, breathing deeply and I have a song in my head that just keeps me moving along. Nothing particularly positive has happened… in fact, something was recently taken away from me.

Oh, not stolen. But a promise that was made to me was revoked. And it sucked. But it’s a beautiful day and the people around me are doing their thing and I have chosen to enjoy myself despite the recent retraction. And I was to stay focused on that.

Choosing to feel good in the face of minor adversity.

*BREATHE* Ah! It’s nice to feel this light and carefree.

And I can really see myself going down that other path I could have chose.

Wow… I’m pretty lucky to be able to do that…. chose to feel good, I mean.  And it didn’t happen overnight; it’s something I routinely practice. And thinking about it gets me reminiscing to how I developed this skill in the first place…

Luckily, I’m a child of divorce. I say luckily because after my parents split, one of them was left with a hole. And she knew she had no choice but to plug it up, no matter how long it took. So she began visiting different places to get in touch with the person she didn’t really know  -herself. After all, who was ‘discovering themselves’ back in the day? People were either experimenting with drugs or getting their adult life in order and her priorities were family and children.

No real “me” time.

One of the places she happened upon was the OPTION institute, in Massachusetts. At the entrance, the sign reads “a place for miracles”. And a miracle was what she was looking for.

After a week or so, she returned to us, her children (myself and two younger brothers) and let us in on the newfound philosophy of this place. They taught people not only how to cope with their emotions but how to actually understand where their emotions were coming from, helping people understand why they felt they way they did about certain experiences.

This was completely new and incomprehensible to me. I thought “people are mean, I get sad”. I never dreamed that there was actually an entire step in that process that is both hugely empowering and completely neglected by most of the population.

“Mean people” is the stimulus. “Becoming sad” is the response. So what is that missing step? If I get hit in the arm with a ball, I will develop a bruise, right? Ah, but it depends on the speed and type of ball. So what are the factors that I never…. Factored in?

Beliefs.

I believe people should not be mean to me because I interpret their actions as a direct result of my behavior. So if they’re mean, it’s my fault. And I feel lousy for making someone be mean. And so I become sad.

The beauty of the new philosophy is that I could identify the beliefs behind the emotions. And the best part – beliefs are NOT written in stone; they’re completely flexible and will do what I tell them to do. So I can say “sometimes people have a tough day and when I say something that is particularly on their minds and they snap, it’s because they’re thinking about it, whether I say it or not. If they snap, they’re just letting me know that they’re not in a personable space at that moment and I can just walk away. Feeling the same way I felt before their outburst.”

That is monstrous and so much better than feeling responsible for other people’s feelings. The realization was life changing and ultimately lead me to my now chosen profession in psychology.

Had it not been for my mother, I would still be reacting to stimulus in unhealthy and unproductive ways.

So here I am, walking down the street and choosing to feel good, simply because I can. But more than feeling good, I feel an enormous amount of gratitude toward my mother, who not only gave me life but changed it in the most inspiring and empowering way possible. Love does not begin to describe what I feel towards her (love being accepting who she is and who she is going to be, remember) and any success that comes my way is my dedication to having her as a parent who not only loved me but taught me how to love.

I am so proud, grateful and lucky to be someone’s kid.

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