"Aquinnah" Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
I was updating a friend the other day on the wonderful things that have come my way in the last few months…miracles, many of them…and feeling very grateful and appreciative.
At one point in the conversation, however, I said, “I still wish….” and mentioned a long-held desire that I’ve had, and still would like to see take place.
“Hey, don’t push it!” my friend admonished me. “Seems like you have a pretty good deal now.”
Wow! In a flash, my heart sank. All kinds of judgment whizzed through: I’m an ungrateful person, I’m a selfish person, I should appreciate more what I have, what I have is enough and I should be happy. My “good girl, high achiever” felt bad, like she had just gotten an “F” in how to have the right attitude about life.
We moved on to other things, and the feeling quickly shifted, but it kept popping up in my mind every once in a while over the next few days. Now I felt anger at my friend: How dare he tell me that I can’t have more dreams! Is there a limit to how many good things can happen to us in our lives?!
I fantasized about calling him back and pointing out all of the good things he has in his life, reminding him that he has also shared with me his unhappy days and wishes for other aspects of his life to improve….so why was he limiting me?
OK, I know you’ve experienced this too. Something happens, you know it’s a small thing, but you can’t let go of it…and before you know, it’s become a huge drama in your head. Would you have called? No probably not, since most of us are chicken to have that kind of conversation 🙂
And did I call? No. Because I knew it wasn’t necessary.
From my psychotherapy and yogic philosophies, I know that comments and suggestions that our friends and others make are often a reflection of their reality, their projections. I’m free to accept them as my truth or not.
And if don’t want to accept my friend’s perspective about life and how one should respond, I don’t have to. I can just move on, knowing my way of living (or dreaming) is fine.
Any discomfort or anger that I’m feeling is a reflection of my own issues. I would do better to spend my time working with them, rather than pinning it on my friend.
Uh….Right. But we all know that’s sometimes easier said than done. And this exchange seemed to be staying with me. So I asked myself a simple question I’ve posed when friends and clients have been unhappy with a conversation they’ve had, and can’t seem to let go of it.
“What,” I asked myself, “did you want him to say?
And my answer is: “I wish that for you too.”
I know my friend’s comment to me was meant to be practical, and in its own way, loving and supportive. “Slow down, smell the roses” was actually what he meant, “don’t be making yourself unhappy with things that aren’t there, when good things are right in front of you.”
But I know that. And I wasn’t saying that I was miserable. I had already expressed my great joy at the many gifts I have received.
But I still have dreams. And I realize now I was looking for a fellow dreamer, another cheerleader on the path. Someone who understood the vast potential of life, and could join me with “Yes, this is really great! And more great things are ahead! The ones that you’ve always wanted are still possible!”
“Yes. I wish that for you too.”
When others share their life circumstances, especially when they’re facing challenges, feeling fearful, and not quite sure of the outcomes, our tendency is to help them feel better by pointing out all of the good things in their life. This has its place, but often our friends have already done that exercise. They need support in looking ahead with hope; to know that their life visions have not been dashed forever.
Even the person who seems to have it all wants to feel that more of their personal dreams can still come true.
And even though there are times that we find ourselves being judgmental (yes, admit it!)…having our own opinions about what people should be satisfied with and how they should live… ultimately we want our friends and loved ones to be happy, whatever the circumstances.
So I have a suggestion for us all this week.
Listen when someone is telling you about their life. As they share the ups and downs, what’s bringing them pleasure, what they wish weren’t happening…resist the tendency to feel like you need to bring them down to earth, be practical, point out what they should be happy about.
Listen for their dream, even if it seems to you to be the wildest, most unattainable fantasy that ever existed.
And when you hear that dream, or maybe not even a dream, but what sounds like just a casual statement of desire for something in life (people test you with the little things first), try saying, truly meaning it:
“Yes. I wish that for you too.”
You’ll be surprised at the power your statement will have.
I wish for you the enjoyment of seeing a loved one feel your love, absorb your support, and glow with the happiness and hope you’ve inspired.
I know, you’re curious. What do I still wish? (Hint: The picture that accompanies this article.)
OK, I’ll tell: “I still wish…to live by the sea.”
To those who love granting wishes: I gratefully accept! 🙂
Send me your solutions! (or send me “I wish that for you too” 🙂
P.P.S: An Invitation:
Share your wishes with me in the comments on this blog, or through an email to me.
I’ll be happy to give you the pleasure of feeling that happy feeling inside as I respond with “Yes. I wish that for you too.”