A few days ago, I got a pile of news all at once.
Some of the news was awesome.
Some, not so much.
But all jumbled up together, it felt challenging to organize which was which all on my own.
At times like these, I crave conversation with a certain type of person – that rare confidante who can look into the jumble of seemingly conflicting information and reliably pull out the light.
What I learned from sharing this last jumble with various confidantes is that this is a rare gift….or perhaps a skill…or both.
In other words, not everyone has it – and those who do have it tend to be rarer than those who don’t.
I have also learned that often parents don’t have it – at least when it comes to their own spouses, parents, kids, pets, and grandkids.
In other words, just as my worry setting seems permanently stuck on “high” when it comes to Pearl, my parrot, and Malti, my baby tortoise, my own parents exhibit the same for me.
So if I share some good news and some bad news with my folks – for example’s sake, let’s say it is an unexpected sudden reduction in my freelance income – my mom, as self-appointed SpokesParent for them both, will translate that in her head to mean, “My daughter is going to be a homeless bag lady by tomorrow morning!!”
Then she will begin peppering me with questions and ideas (until, frankly, being homeless and living out of a bag begins sound both peaceful and freeing).
What is particularly ironic is that I DO have this gift for reliably finding the light in the jumble – or, in my case, I have this as a skill which I have consciously and deliberately developed for myself through much prayer, meditation, and daily self-effort.
I have taught myself to take in any news, and then instantly look for the bright spot in that news, no matter how hard it may be to locate.
For instance, let’s say I am looking at the aforementioned unexpected reduction in freelance income. Instead of automatically heading towards “OMG – I’m a homeless bag lady!,” I will say to myself, “How exciting! I wonder what kind of work I will be doing next! I’ll bet it will be something even better than what I was doing until now!”
If – as such news sometimes does – it comes with compliments to myself included – I will read and re-read those compliments and allow them to soak in.
If there are no compliments I will compliment myself (after all, somebody has to do it.)
If there are negative comments, I will choose to see it as a great blessing that that particular source of income has concluded.
But this perspective doesn’t come to me automatically – or at least it never used to.
Rather, I have trained myself to immediately head towards this mindset, this heart-set, this soul-set, so as to not take my life or myself or today’s oh-so-temporary circumstances so deathly seriously.
Now it is a matter of figuring out who amongst my small circle of close confidantes is a) able, and b) willing, to support me in this.
Not everyone is.
Some of my closest confidantes are not able – either they are too worried about me, there is something in my news that triggers their own worries, or this simply isn’t their gift.
So I might not choose to confide in them when I need to see light, but I will seek them out to play devil’s advocate when I am thinking through all the particular pros and cons of making Choice A versus Choice B. This is a much better use of their particular skill set.
My mentor is a reliable source of light.
I also have a certain close friend – a creative, artistic soul like myself – who is also very inclined to see the positive in even the stormiest temporary scenarios.
My dad can be a good source of balanced light – he is a great logical, measured, and patient thinker who doesn’t rush himself or anyone else to any conclusions.
My boyfriend …. well, it can go either way.
With him, and with a few others in my circle as well, it really depends how I present the news. If I present it from an “I’m so worried oh what will I do?!?” perspective, I will probably get more things to worry about in return.
If, on the other hand, I present the news from a “blessings first” viewpoint, I often get a more favorable response.
But it is a rare being indeed who will give me “Point A to Point B” directions to the light without me even having to ask – and without any perceivable light in sight.
This just makes me treasure those few in my life who can and will offer me the light-first interpretation, served up promptly on a beautiful platter of love and encouragement, each and every time.
Today’s Takeaway: How does another person’s response to your news affect how you see it, and how you handle it? Do you find that seeking out the most positive interpretation and possible outcome in your mind helps you to chart a course to that actual outcome over time? How do negative or “doom and gloom” perspectives from people you care about affect your ability to navigate challenging moments in your life?