Silver Linings Thanks-Book

No cake this week, though there has been another birthday, and a lot of other stuff. Much of it has not been what I’d choose, but there are silver linings – at least in most things. And whatever life gives to us, however much we might fight it or wish it different, life goes on and the sun comes up each day (even on the days we never see it.)

There have been moments this week that needed no search for silver linings, and were joyous just as they were. Last week was our older daughter’s birthday, and this week is was my mum’s turn. It was her first birthday without my dad, so one of my sisters who lives much nearer than I do (on a different one of the Shetland islands) persuaded her to visit for a few days. She wasn’t too sure at first, but a friend offered to drive her there, so she went and really enjoyed herself. I am thankful for that.

I’m thankful for my mother in general, and for how, like my dad did, she has grown so much as a person in her later years. My parents were married for over fifty-eight years so it can’t be easy to be for her without my dad, but she’s managing so well it is inspiring. Of course she misses him, but she’s so accepting of how her life is now and says so often that it was the better for him that the end came when it did, rather than him having a slow painful decline. My mum had her own encounter with cancer over 25 years ago when she was in her fifties, and she sees that as something that made her see things differently and appreciate life more. I think she’s right. I saw changes in her then, saw her opening out. I can’t honestly say I’m thankful she had cancer, but I am thankful that she took the opportunity to grow.

This week has been marked by tussles with a few people in our daughters’ school. It’s been tiresome, and tiring, and some of it isn’t over yet. Partly because of that, I’m not going into details, though I am also aware that whatever I see in someone else that I don’t like is a reflection of what I don’t like in myself. For me, that means that instead of venting, I’d rather allow my feelings and then look for what I have been avoiding in myself – and look for those silver linings. There are many.

  • It’s pushed me into facing things I might otherwise have chosen to avoid both on the surface and at a deeper level. I’ve been handling the situation in ways I would not have felt able to a few years ago, and I’ve been letting go of the feelings and beliefs that previously would have stopped me in my tracks. So I feel stronger.
  • It’s shown my daughters that their mother is willing and able to stand up for them when it is required.
  • It’s shown them that (sometimes) solutions do come easily and that getting feedback is better than wondering and worrying or trying to block it out.
  • In the situation where this hasn’t yet happened, it has led one of my daughters to take a look inside herself and see where she would like to be stronger. That led to us having an important

    conversation, and (I think) to her feeling better about herself.

On the themes of mothers and daughters and of standing up for yourself, I had an conversation with my mum not long ago when she said she’d always found it difficult to stand up for herself or to  express anger. I learned that too, and it was how I was for many years. Even now I don’t always find anger an easy emotion to deal with, and I guess I passed some of this on to my daughters. (Though they are pretty good at expressing anger towards me or their dad!) I am thankful that over the years I’ve stumbled upon a few books that helped me learn new ways. I wrote about these in Ten Brilliant Self-help Books.

In particular, I am thankful that when the girls were little I read Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child The Heart of Parenting by John Gottman and  Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie. Gottman’s book describes a process he calls emotion coaching, were you validate your child’s feelings and then guide them towards appropriate responses. So, for example you might say: “It’s okay to be angry when your sister steals your truck; it’s not okay to hit her. What could you do instead?” When the girls were tiny and things got heated, often I’d get the Heart of Parenting out to work out what to do!

Then I read Bryon Katie’s book, and a whole new way of looking at the world opened out for me – that it is not what happens to us that causes our suffering, but our thoughts about what happens. This was such a revelation to me, and the more I’ve learned to look at life’s events that way, the less I suffer. I am very thankful for that!

Many people try to think positively about life in an attempt to feel happier or to get a better life. For some people this can work, but for others (including me) it has a forced and fake feeling that makes us feel even worse – and quite frankly it’s exhausting! The process Byron Katie developed doesn’t require us to censor our negative thoughts. Instead we notice them, question them, notice the effect of believing them and how it would be without the thought.  What this effectively does is transform them with love. I’ve rabbited on about this before, as well as about the Sedona Method, the other process I use so much that it no longer seems like a process but part of my life – but truly I am so thankful for the way these processes transformed me from someone who reacted to life to someone who can deal with the challenges we’ve had this week and feel calm and happy even though it’s not all resolved!

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  1. wow! I learned so much from you today it is as if I have been affirmed in a good sort of way! You are really something! and yes, I have tried the Sedona Method and I could use a good run through again, RIGHT NOW! –AND…I too find that I am most critical of things in people which are actually reflections of what is bothering me about myself. xox jean

    1. Jean good to read you have tried the Sedona Method. It’s changed a lot in the time I’ve been using it – and the new things they developed get better and better at getting to the root of what holds us back.
      So glad that you feel affirmed in a good way by reading this post. That’s just lovely to read in fact, and affirming for me! Thanks very much for your comment.

  2. This has been a lot more than a gratitude post this week! You have passed on a lot of information and inspiration as well. Your girls are blessed to have you not only looking out and standing up for them but being willing to grow and change. Not everyone is able to do that.
    It sounds like you may have inherited that fine art from your own mom, who sounds like a lady to be admired.
    I wish her a Happy Birthday and a wonderful week ahead for you!

    1. Sandy, your observation about my mother is very interesting. I have never thought of it like that before – that I learned from her. But when my mother was in hospital for an cancer operation she talked to me about things she’d never spoken about before. Within a year or so after that I began asking questions about my own life – it wasn’t working out either in my career or relationships – and I began looking for solutions. It’s been a long road since then, but yes I can see that it was a turning point for me. Thank you for that!

  3. I still feel a bit leery, as though it’s dissociation from those feelings and their natural reactions…but I like learning from you, and I’m glad you’ve found methods which work for you.

    Good for you for showing your girls you’re willing to go the extra distance to stick up for them. Unleash the Mama Bear!

    Glad your sister could visit your mum on her birthday. I hope she has a good time.

    Wishing you more and more silver linings, until all the world glitters.

    1. Lizzi, it’s definitely not dissociation, but allowing the feelings to come up – and allowing them to go. In a way it does include detaching from emotions – in that we no longer see them as us, but as passing through us. So I might still feel angry, but if I welcome the feeling and then allow it to go it doesn’t have a hold on me. And I no longer think that it means something about me (or not for so long!)

      I have about 3 half-written posts on this, so maybe I should get one finished – it will probably be over on my Inquiring Parent blog that has lain dormant for a while since it’s more in keeping with what I write on that blog.
      So that’s another post you’ve inspired! If I earned anything from them you’d be on commission! Thanks again.

  4. Yvonne, AWESOME post! Love everything you said…. I subscribe to the idea that there is some benefit to be learned from transforming negative thinking and restructuring it instead of trying to avoid it or squash it with positivity… that is utterly exhausting! Best to you and your daughter what a great outcome! Hope it continues to resolve this week… My mom has grown so much in her later years… since my Dads death especially but as much as I tease and grouse she has really transformed so much… really proud of her.

    1. Zoe, trying to squash negative thinking with positivity is such a great way to put it! Squashed is how we end up feeling! It amazes me how much more energetic I feel when I allow the feelings and let them release, compared to when I resist. I’m so pleased to see that your mom has also grown so much in her later years. There’s a tendency to assume the elderly are set in their ways, but it’s far from true in some cases!
      Thanks for your comment.

  5. Rushing out to buy those books now. I need them!

    Great list. I cannot live without searching for silver linings but I love when seeing them takes a bit less work!

    1. Hi Tricia, good to meet you. I had a look at your blog and see your kids are little – which is a great time to read these books. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have, and thank for your comment!

  6. “…though I am also aware that whatever I see in someone else that I don’t like is a reflection of what I don’t like in myself.”

    so simple yet how difficult to do!
    (the thing I like) about the approach to dealing with people that this statement is a (partial) reflection of, is that it is understood to be way of being, as opposed to (being) something to achieve. For me, the danger of learning ‘the best way to deal with people’ is my own inclination to want to think that the problem is ‘out there’ and all I have to do is learn a strategy and things will be better.
    I much prefer the notion of ‘practice’… it allows me to get better without having to worry about whether or not I am better.

    very thought provoking post…. cool

    1. Clark, I love your description of practice – “it allows me to get better without having to worry about whether or not I am better.” That just about sums up why I love the 2 practices I use so much. In fact, Byron Katie – whose process is called The Work – says “I just do the Work and how I change is none of my business.”
      Changes do happen, but I so agree with you that trying to make that something to achieve gets in the way of allowing it!
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

  7. I’m that annoying silver lining person, always looking for it, always using it to make a bad situation slightly redeemable. Sometimes, I even annoy myself with it!

    I am not a good mama bear, because I hate confrontation in any way, shape or form. But the few times I’ve gone mama bear on someone, things happened. At least I know I can do it if I have to!

    Your mom is a wise woman, and you obviously take after her.

  8. Dyanne, I am not a fan of confrontation either, but sometimes we’ve got to step our of our comfort zones and do what’s best for our kids! Yay for Mama bears!
    And good for you looking for the silver linings. It’s good to let the feelings come and then to let them pass and see the sweetness.
    Thanks for your comment.

  9. Whoot to being an awesome mama bear. I recently had an IEP for my son (moving from preschool autism class to non-categorized) and I was SO nervous but went in with a list of what I wanted and ended up getting everything on it. It was so empowering. Your mom sounds amazingly wonderful and I’m SO glad that she enjoyed her birthday celebration so much.

  10. Kristi, that’s awesome that your son is moving to non-classified. (At least it sounds it to me?) So glad you got what you needed and that it feels empowering – that it was for you means it will be for Tucker too I’m sure.

    Yes, my mum is wonderful and I guess I’m proud of how she’s doing!

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