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If you find yourself in front of a window into your soul will you open it?

February 20, 2021

Gratitude Journals. My girl friend gave me one with the suggestion of using it. She said she has observed a pattern of negative leaning comments from me. I added the “leaning” because I am not fully buying the “negative” characterization.

What have you heard from a trusted friend or partner that didn’t match your experience? Was your reaction the politically correct “I hear what you are saying and thank you for your feedback.” while thinking, “there is no way I am being negative!” They are the one focusing on the negative and only hearing my critic.” Could this have happened to you?

What am I to do with this observation? If I am being so negative, why would they “supposedly” be in love with me? How could anyone be attracted to someone being as negative as you claim I am being? No one else has given me this feedback. Why is this coming up now? I am confident I pulled out additional rationalizations to protect me from this sticking to me.

Is there a significance to this comment? Is there a significance to my reaction?

Is this a mirror, a window or a wall?

Here is some perspective that caused me to investigate. It has been shown when we are thinking about a topic, we tend to see it in our surroundings at a greater frequency. What was the last car you bought? For those of us who settled on a specific brand, model and color, did you start seeing that exact vehicle almost everywhere? Similar things will occur with our feelings. If we are feeling happy, everything seems brighter. When unhappy, the opposite might be true. There are opportunities to use what we are noticing to learn about ourselves.

Think about that person who was irritating. Think about what they would do that was so annoying. What was the feeling, the smells, the sensation? What did it bring to mind? Was there anything familiar in what that person was doing? Might it be linked to something I did which I wasn’t happy about? Could it have been a reminder of something I hadn’t completed, or that I have been corrected by another? Look within. It’s likely you will find a connection to something for which you are embarrassed, you had not completed, or you know that you do and wish you stopped. These are not the only possibilities. If this is true, which I believe there is a strong correlation, then what am I going to do when someone brings attention to me?

My choices include ignoring them, disagreeing, or possibly even listening. Possibly inquire and investigate the validity. It’s an opportunity to potentially see something that I was unaware I was doing.

I am not saying every instance is a window into my soul. But what if it is? In this case I am hearing this from my girlfriend. Someone I love and respect. This seems like a good person to give the benefit of the doubt. I assure you my first reaction was not to agree or even entertain. Instead I went to the reverse coach speak. I suggested it was she who was the negative person for she was seeing this in me. Now that certainly is possible, but it’s not my place to draw that conclusion for I am not her. And is more likely a defense to redirect the conversation away from me and on to her.

Defense aside, what she communicated was she noticed a pattern of negative comments from me.

What makes a difference is what do “I” do with this information? For I am the only person I can change. I asked myself why I care, would being negative really matter, and of what importance does it have in my life? It seems to me a coach should at least be neutral, and capable and willing to both encourage as well as criticize. Finding the right measure could make the difference. There would be value in my determining the validity of my partner’s observation and if it is in fact true, which of course it isn’t, then I could take steps to address this.

For purely purposes of research, I have taken on writing in a gratitude journal daily. Capturing a minimum of three things for which I am grateful and not limit myself on any given day to three should there be more. I figure this is one way to investigate my supposed negativity. I bet there are more for those who really need it.

Has there been an observation shared by a close friend or confident in which you did not agree but couldn’t fully dismiss? This could be a mirror for you into what is important now. See what you notice.