A Couples’ Story, Part One:
Should We Be Happy All The Time?
I was struck by a session I had recently with a couple. They were separated and on the verge of divorce when the woman, Mary, came in for a four-day intensive. Mary had faced some serious issues in her marriage over a long period of time, and had become very anxious, and, more recently, depressed. She was tense, she didn’t sleep well, and was constantly pre-occupied with the issues she had experienced in her marriage.
After a few days of intensive learning about the inside-out nature of life, Mary’s experience of life suddenly shifted. She saw how her own thoughts were creating the feelings of anxiety and low self-worth that she had been experiencing for so long.
First her mind got quieter – she started to feel more peaceful and, to her amazement, started sleeping better. Then her own innate joy and well being welled up inside her. Mary began experiencing happiness for the first time in a long time. She was psychologically free, and it was beautiful to witness the transformation she experienced.
Mary and her husband re-united, and had a lovely honeymoon period that lasted for several months. They just focused on enjoying each other. Then something happened that reminded Mary of the issues from the past. Her thoughts became focused on those issues and the pain the she had experienced with her husband. Though they had put those issues behind them, suddenly it was all Mary could think about. They arrived for their next session looking unhappy and downtrodden.
What was most remarkable to me about witnessing Mary in that session was the shift that took place in her consciousness. When she first started working with me, it was as if she was caught in a world of mirrors, all of them reflecting her mental pain. Learning about the inside-out nature of life had snapped her out of that dream. Now she was caught back up in it and I could see that when I talked to her, she wasn’t really listening to me. My words were like a distant echo, and what Mary was hearing, mostly, were her own thoughts cycling and re-cycling.
In Mary’s case, my mentioning that she wasn’t listening to me was what it took to snap her out of her dream. Suddenly she looked at me as if seeing me for the first time, though we were half way through the session. At that point I repeated much of what I’d already said, as I knew she hadn’t heard me. I told Mary that it’s natural sometimes to re-visit issues that haven’t been healed in a relationship, especially as that relationship gets better. Sometimes that’s what it takes to have enough safety and security to be present to the pain that occurred in the past, and get over it. When we’re not available to have pain and grieve loss in the moment, sometimes we do so later.
Mary had stepped into a pitfall that people do sometimes when they learn the principles – thinking that because you know that your thoughts create your feelings you should be happy all the time. This is a misinterpretation of understanding the inside-out nature of life. A more accurate way to put it is that when you see your thoughts creating your feelings in the moment, you can’t create as much unnecessary pain for your self. You still may have grief sometimes, if you experience a loss, or other thoughts and feelings in response to life events. But these thoughts and feelings will normally flow through you, creating depth and healing on the way. It’s when we interfere with thoughts and feelings flowing through us, through over-analysis, resistance, or other ways of keeping thought in place, that we interfere with the design of our own minds – which is to experience our own innate well being again once the thought storm has passed.