There have been grave rumblings in our household of late which were finally verbalised over dinner the other night.
It seems my family members are concerned by – in their opinion – negative aspects in my blogs on life in the Netherlands. I’m aghast.
Who knew they were reading my blog?
More importantly how could they have made such an assumption from anything I’d written? Where have I been negative? Am I negative?
It’s not a word I’ve ever hung on myself. I’ve always thought if I’d been caught on the deck of the Titanic I’d be handing out cups of tea telling everyone things would be fine.
Fine. The word every woman knows holds so many layers of meaning it’s almost mystical. Oh Lord.
Thinking about it, a dear girlfriend did ask recently whether at any time in my past I’d killed an albatross. I accept an awful lot has been happening in life of late but it has been happening round me, not to me, so negative? I don’t think so.
I strive to see the positive; if someone is rude or objectionable I try to figure why they’re that way to someone as nice and unassuming as me. I’m not special, important or (I hope) rude enough to have people be mean to me for the sake of it.
What I’ve learned is not everything is about me.
It’s quite a relief. I used to feel responsible for the world and everyone in it, now it’s refreshing to take a back seat and accept some things are just what they are.
I read a book years ago, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, which really did change the way I looked at life. It was one of the books chosen by the GRITS (see ‘January Blues and Southern Belles’) for our book club and I would never have read it otherwise.
A terrible read (in my humble opinion) but I’ve tried to live by its four edicts ever since and boy does it change your perspective on things.
To save you from stressing and looking up this stuff yourself, the four agreements you make with yourself are
Be impeccable with your word – Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Don’t disrespect yourself or others. Don’t gossip.
Don’t take anything personally – Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality and circumstances.
Don’t make assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, hurt and drama.
Always do your best – Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different depending on whether you are healthy or sick. Always do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-doubt, self-abuse and regret.
This is all stuff we know in our hearts but powerful when written down and presented as a manifesto for living. Since I started to apply this knowledge life has taken on a different quality.
Previously if someone had upset me or was rude I assumed it was because I’d upset or offended them. Now I understand they may have had a row with their spouse, found out they’d lost their job, someone they loved was sick, or maybe they were just having a bad day.
In other words nothing I’d said or done had any impact on their reaction to me. OK, they shouldn’t have been rude but it’s not the end of the world.
So I have a wonderful mantra for living and think I’m applying it to my daily life yet that ‘negative’ comment is still itching like a scab forming over a cut knee and has been for days.
I’ve started looking for a negative in everything I’m doing and honestly can’t find one, yet my loved ones think I’m downbeat. A brave move from all parties given my default response to criticism. I never said I was perfect.
I can’t think of a single thing I’m feeling down or negative about. Life is good.
So, what the heck is making me appear pessimistic when in my heart of hearts I know I’m not??
I have no clue. Honestly. I’ve looked in the mirror and wondered if my facial expression looks sad, when in fact it’s merely lack of collagen, but that doesn’t explain why a negative element has been picked up in my writing.
Or perhaps, after rereading the four agreements I should realise that it’s not all about me, ignore their comments and just get on with it.
Sounds like a positive attitude to me.
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Thank you ma’am. Living with my family I do sometimes wonder if it’s me or them and being outnumbered I automatically assume the majority is right!
I’ve never thought your blog posts were negative, and certainly not you! You have a great wry(and occasionally self-depracating) sense of humor, and a keen observational eye. When you share your interactions with Dutch culture, you don’t denigrate the latter, or the reasons behind Dutch rules, laws, beliefs. You focus on your intersection with them, and you always poke fun at yourself. So sorry, as you surmised, it’s not about you; it’s about them. Rock on!
P.S. – I share your view on The Four Agreements: great credo to live by, despite the meandering presentation.
Your blogs can’t be negative if the effect on the reader when they read them is positive. So there is no case to answer. 😉
Love this… “Fine. The word every woman knows holds so many layers of meaning it’s almost mystical. “
And very interesting reading about the Four Agreements. There’s a few life lessons in there….
Thanks Jane! Ever thought of a legal career?