Monday, August 2, 2010

It'll Come Out Okay

Monday, August 2, 2010

This weekend has been a busy and fun one because our house was filled with visiting family members -- lots of laughs, conversations, walks and outings. During one of those conversations with my brother-in-law, we moved into the territory of family relationships and other close ties, as he and I like to do. We discussed ways in which tensions can build and explode as well as some less hurtful ways of dealing with those tensions.

Having published a book about difficult close relationships, I sometimes unconsciously (and often consciously) expect myself to respond in the best possible ways at all times and in all situations. As if I know what's best. As if anyone could do that, even if they did know what's best.

So talking with my brother-in-law did, as it usually does, enlighten and lighten me. Here's how he did it this time.

We were talking about a troublesome situation with some people we know, a situation that's been going up and down for quite a while. What happens sometimes affects the two of us directly and sometimes doesn't, but it's generally difficult to witness. At one point he said to me, "It'll come out okay." My immediate internal reaction was, Don't think so.

After a while he talked some more about his optimistic opinion and, fortunately, I was able to hear him with a more open heart and mind this time. It felt like a little tiny door opened up inside me, and I was able to let go of the pessimism that had crept into my thinking. I felt better, and though I have no idea if he's right or not -- it might or might not come out okay -- something of value happened there.

I was reminded that even though I am generally a positive, hopeful, helpful person, I make negative judgements against others. I sometimes assume I know how things should turn out and what people should do or stop doing. Finally recognizing that I don't know all the factors or what's in other people's hearts and minds, I became more able to let go of the outcome.

Stuff like this is great (even though I don't like it when it's happening), because it gives me opportunities to walk my talk, which strengthens my own emotional and attitudinal "muscles." My talk often revolves around people's struggles with relationships and with ourselves. I advocate open-mindedness and open-heartedness and letting go of what we can't control. I co-wrote a book called It's So Hard to Love You -- Staying Sane When Your Loved One is Manipulative, Needy, Dishonest, or Addicted, so if what I write and talk about means anything, I'd better be willing to apply it in my own life.

My brother-in-law's gentle words helped me to do that this morning. I was reminded that it will, in fact, come out okay...even if I don't like or control the outcome. I hope it means greater happiness for unhappy people and clearer thinking in muddy situations, but that's not mine to decide. I can choose, and I do, to enjoy my renewed freedom from resentment and a desire to control others. That enjoyment, in turn, frees me to enjoy my day, mentally get off somebody else's case, and do the best I can for now.

Now, that's walking my talk. Thanks, Bro.


Anonymous said...

There are times that while I am in the moment of intense emotion, I feel so uncomfortable and can not direct my thoughts into a positive, optimistic way of thinking. These are the times I am reminded to ask trusted friends to hear and listen to me as well as remembering to allow time to pass so that I can reassess these difficult incidences that occassionaly occur in life. Today I have the power to choose.

Kate Thompson said...

Exactly!! Thanks for your thoughts. :-)