May 09, 2006

Choose to Make Happiness a Priority

A terrific gift to ourselves this season would be to shift out of irrational beliefs - like "If this happens, then I'll be happy" or "Someday my prince will come, then I'll be happy" - and replace them with the belief that "I CHOOSE to make HAPPINESS my priority. This is the situation, how can I perceive it so I am happy?" Most people's perception of difficult situations softens over time anyway; so why don't we simply choose to shorten that time span.

In this process, it's important for us to begin dismantling our self-restrictive walls and patterns from childhood. Each time we were hurt or disappointed as a child, we put up an emotional wall as protection. That emotional wall traps the original energy of the pain, anger or sadness inside us and keeps our love from getting out and other people's love from getting in.

When old feelings behind those walls suddenly express themselves and cause us to overreact, we experience emotional flashbacks. These flashbacks can influence us to form personal meanings that may be distortions of what actually exists. In Woody Allen's film "Deconstructing Harry", this occurrence is profoundly described when Woody's therapist tells him: "You expect the world to adjust to the distortion you have become."

Irrational beliefs often originate from childhood perceptions. We developed these beliefs based on how we interpreted early experiences. As young children we had limited experience and, therefore, took our interpretations as absolute truth.

Suppose my parents had very exacting standards. My response to these standards may have been to try to be perfect. Blaming my parents for my perfectionism would be a natural assumption. But, suppose I had a brother or sister who had no interest in perfection. In fact, sloppiness and laziness were their claim to fame. Same parents, different interpretations. So, I can't blame my parents for my perfectionism ... I have to take responsibility for my interpretation.

Note that responsibility doesn't mean blame. It simply means we made a choice at an early age about how to interpret our experiences ... perhaps the best choices we could make at that time. Since WE chose our INTERPRETATION, we can change our mind and make another choice now - we can create new, positive experiences to heal the old pain.

Chelle Thompson

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