21 Aug JULY – Be positive, not passive
Be positive – not passive
Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change. Through my month of reflection, I learnt something pretty confronting about myself. Matt has been telling me this for years but I just thought he was sensitive. As my awareness of myself grew, I saw myself in a whole new light…
I can be so passive aggressive.
I can be impatient, rude, inconsiderate and just plain bitchy. I’d been totally copping out and playing the “I’m damaged” card. Attributing much of my behaviour to my anxiety, sadness and life circumstances. In a way too, Matt has been enabling me. He lets most of my behaviour slide. He always starts out well and will often pull me up on how I have just spoken to him. But, I’m clever and I always manage to weave my way out of it and somehow we conclude that somehow he is in the wrong. Now I’m not waving the white flag and saying it’s all me. Like all people, he has his faults too. He bottles thoughts and feelings up. A quality in him which irritates the crap out of me and definitely fuels my impatience and frustration . One of the best things to come out of this happiness project is how we are both more mindful of our poor habits. He too is engaging in a self reflective process. I have witnessed him working so hard to support me and become the best version of himself. We are at that point in this project where we are working at self improvement together. We are on the same page, with many of the same goals. So essentially, this month was just as much about my husband as it was me.
Embrace the glorious mess that you are and don’t stop until you’re proud. I really wanted to work hard this month on catching those times when I slipped into my negative, unhelpful state. Where I let my negative mind lash out. This negative version of me is vicious, she’s self-centred, high and mighty and serves no one.
A few of her finest moments include:
Sarcastic and unhelpful comments such as “No Matt, I didn’t want to finish that glass of water that I left on the bench” As my husband just tries to tidy our house.
Eye rolls in plain sight of the victim.
Purposely making fun of her husband and making him feel stupid in front of others.
Snappy, dismissive comments when she is tired.
Stating the obvious in a less than respectful tone.
Dismissing the thoughts, opinions or questions of others before she has considered their perspective.
When this negative mind has her claws wrapped around my throat at full force, she is truly unleashed, she spits out a fury of insults. She is fierce. She raises her voice.She complains. She is ungrateful. She’s a bitch…
I speak about this side of my personality as if she is someone else, because she is. In general, I don’t allow her to slip into control too often these days. There was a time in my life when she was me… This was who I was the majority of the time when in a relationship. It was a treat to see the calm, caring version of me. I was incredibly aggressive when heightened. The words that came from my mouth were like fire burning, charring and ripping through anything and every thing in their path. I didn’t care who I took down, I just wanted to hurt. Maybe to make myself feel better? Maybe i was conditioned to behave in this way? This extreme version of myself is a stranger now. I haven’t seen her in years. At times, she has visited me in times of extreme stress. When she did, I was scared. She reminded me that that side of me will always be there but I have to work hard to build up the stronger parts of my foundations so she has no need to present herself. I have spent a long time healing.
Past boyfriends when asked about me, would probably argue my insanity! In the past, I had no strategies for emotional regulation. Perhaps maybe because I’d watched an unstable “role model” in my father totally dominate the queen of passive aggressive (my mother). My personality type is a conflicting mess. After losing my mum, I spent a number of years addressing how I behaved in many situations. By the time I met my husband, I was better able to function and positively contribute to a healthy relationship. Combined with the fact that my husband was more emotionally stable, kind and understanding than any that preceded him! I had no need to revert back to the extreme version of myself. I’ve felt safe and cared for since I met him.
The distance between your dreams and reality is called action. My challenge now is to tackle the smaller habits that are embedded in the way I interact with my husband. The ones that one off may not matter. But a flurry of little digs take their toll on Matt. He can let one or 2 slide but after 4-5 woah-nelly!! He’s not happy! This marriage resolution was set because I wanted to notice these passive actions and catch them before I even went there. Many of these behaviours were a reaction to things Matt does that frustrate me. In order to be positive, I aimed to work on taking a breath (my commandment and past resolution to ‘breathe’ wasn’t isn’t just for yoga!) I wanted to develop my ability to think before I act and speak. I thought that to help him along the I could let him know in a constructive way that he is annoying me! This would be supported by my May and June resolutions to ‘give compliments’ and ‘show affection.’
Be thankful for what you are now and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow. I knew I would be tested in July as we honeymooned in Bali. At some points travel brings out the absolute worst in me! I’m stressed and anxious and often snappy and flustered. As we arrived to the airport in our Uber, we both laughed about how we hadn’t fought yet! Usually in the process of the pack, making the airport check-in and ensuring we have all our documents we have snapped at each other and are generally looking out opposite windows, not speaking to each other! I was much more mindful of how I am quick to jump straight down his throat. As our honeymoon begun, I caught myself on so many occasions, I was so ingrained in a habit of letting a small foul mood be his issue! One day, I was walking back to our villa and realised I had forgotten to grab the key from him. I was instantly frustrated. Huffing and puffing like a 5 year old, I went to text him to bring me the key straight away – as if it was his fault! I caught myself in the middle of furiously tapping the message to him. I took a breath, turned around, and walked to get the damn keys myself. And you know what, when I walked back and asked for them, he actually apologised! What they hell?!!? Was this a sign of how amazing he is? Or is he so used to dealing with a wife who gets pissed off at that stuff that he feels he needs to apologise? I think it’s a bit of both! The old, less mindful me would have already lost her shit but this point and wouldn’t have given him a chance to be so lovely to apologise for the fact that I WAS THE ONE THAT FORGOT THE KEY. This was a moment in my life where I really appreciated the magnitude of how lovely this man is, how lucky I am and how happy this project makes me.
Positivity is a choice. The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts and interactions with others. In general, the power of positivity and my new lenses on life lead to an improvement in my attitude. I really started to truly appreciate all that I had and how lucky I was to have married Matt. There was a day where I woke up slightly hungover to a broken air conditioner and no water. Matt leapt out of bed and went on a trek to find me water. He spent the rest of the day, doing absolutely everything and anything to make me comfortable. I kept thinking, “He’s so lovely today, I’m so lucky.” And I realised that he goes above and beyond for me everyday. I’d been too self consumed and conditioned to notice it.
What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create. In general, I ticked off that I was ‘positive-not passive’ almost every day that month. There was one day in the middle of the month where I caught myself being impatient with him. I was explaining something small and he took a while to register what I was saying. As he stood in front of me, his eyes looking up to the side, mulling over my explanation. I commented under my breath, “I’ll give you a minute…” I literally stepped out of my body, gawked at myself and thought “Jesus Christ you’re a bitch!” If I’d had it my way, I would have done a full round house kick and knocked myself out! The beauty of this resolution was that I could quickly reprimand myself – let me let you, I haven’t reverted to such unhelpful, rude comments since!
If you change nothing, then nothing will change. In order to tackle the behaviour that Matt presents, that often leads to my negative or passive aggressive tendencies, I improved my positive communication. What I found myself getting very sensitive about was Matt’s tendency to predict how I was going to behave or how I was thinking in certain situations. For any of you who are going through a process of self-improvement, you may find that you are extremely sensitive to people telling you how you are going to react or behave – especially when you are trying to correct any old, negative behaviours. Matt often jumped to conclusions and or predictions about my behaviour, before I’d even been given the chance to practise any of my new skills, commandments or resolutions! This annoyed me to no end. But instead of fostering a negative experience and launching into a fight – I communicated with him! I told him that when he tried to analyse how a situation would develop, how I was feeling and behaviour – he wasn’t being productive at all. I told him, I just needed him to allow the the opportunity and space to let me experiment with all I was learning. This quick and easy conversation brought a mutual understanding and respect.
If you ever meet someone who makes your life flow easier and makes you laugh a lot, keep them – that’s all you need. Oh my god, my husband is a keeper! Throughout the month, we problem solved together. We both acknowledged weaknesses in ourselves and tackled how we would work together to improve the quality of our lives and our marriage.We were almost ALWAYS positive and respectful to one another. This attitude lead to one of our best holidays to date. I looked at him with such admiration and adoration. I have found the one whom my soul loves. I appreciated how truly blessed I am to have him by my side. To keep on the path of self-improvement and a happy marriage it is essential to eliminate what doesn’t help you evolve. To this end, I stopped focusing on the things that annoyed me and started noticing all the things that he did that brought me joy. Simply by shifting my mindset, I was able to see how the inefficient method of letting negatives thoughts consume my life, was simply clouding my ability to actually see all the good.
The good and positive thoughts are always there, I just needed to let them take control of how I think and feel in order to live a happier life.
How do you stay positive in your marriage?