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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Discounting the positive (and so nice when you don't)

I know an elderly lady who ends many a conversation, or begins them for that matter, with a reminder "I'm a dummy." I keep telling her she is not. "But I forget my words. I have to stop and start when I am talking to people." I remind her 1. she is 89. The fact that she is able to hold an intelligent conversation is something of which she should be proud. 2. I forget words a lot as do many people. 3. There is nothing wrong with actually thinking before you speak. No matter what I say she replies with "No. I am stupid. I am a dummy." I tell her her hair looks nice. "Oh no it is all flattened out." I remark that I like what she is wearing. "This. It is just an old pair of pants."

"You have to stop doing that", I tell her. "Everytime I say something nice to you you discount it." The last time we had that conversation was this past Friday. And yesterday, Saturday, I had to tell myself advice giver, advise yourself.

A few months ago I had signed up to take a table at a health fair. I would be there as a hypnotherapist and relaxation/stress reduction educator. I was not seeing clients but hoped I might be able to by the time the fair came around and this way I could drum up some business.

Unfortunately I am still not able to see clients. As a result I was not looking forward to the fair. In fact, until reminded of it about a week ago I had completely forgotten about it.

I have trouble, because of the eye pain, driving in the rain. I was keeping my fingers crossed for the weather to be bad. I would have a built in excuse not to go. Of course, it was a beautiful day.

Feeling guilty because I had given my word I would be there, I drove the hour into the city and set up my table. The other folks were nice. The turnout abysmal. Maybe 15 people. Four hours was a long time when you were spending most of it just sitting at your table waiting.

Before setting out I had worries. On the one hand if they had the turnout they were estimating - about 300 people, I would be in bad pain from using my eye. On the other, what if no one came? What a waste of time, car usage and gas.

During the four hours there I worked with about 8 people. I taught each of them a relaxation exercise that takes about 1 - 2 minutes. Every one of them loved it. It involved closing their eyes. As soon as they opened them they were ecstatic about how relaxed they felt. One of the things I love about doing hypnotherapy and teaching the exercises is seeing people have success and usually fairly immediately. It was terrific to have this with them.

Finally the day was ended and I packed up the few things I had brought with me and walked out to my car.

Man, what a waste of a day. No one came. It will take me all this time to drive back home and the cost of the gas and who knows if there will be traffic. I'm bummed. What a mistake to have come.

Those thoughts were internal. "Wait a minute." I said outloud. "Didn't you enjoy teaching those people even if it was only those 8?" I founding myself nodding. "Yeah. I did."

"Did you feel proud of yourself that you were successful teaching them the exercise?" Again the answer was "Yes."

So, if you enjoyed it and if you felt good about what you did and what they experienced, then was't it, in fact, a really good day?

I had a choice. I could have let myself stay in that darker place. I could have let even more negative thoughts fester. It's a good thing not a lot of people came. That would have been awful. I would have been in such pain. I'll never be so stupid as to sign up for something like this ever again.

It is a good thing I gave my friend the advice so recently. Otherwise I might not have remembered to give it to myself. Otherwise a good day would have registered only as a bad. And what a shame and loss that would have been.

1 comment:

  1. My friend called me last night. She had some very positive news to share with me and boy was that nice to hear.