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Those Five Little Words

While a man and his four children were riding on the train, his kids were running rampant. Pushing each other. Shouting. Whining. Pulling the little one’s hair. Stepping on other people. Irritating other passengers. Generally misbehaving to the extreme. But the man paid them no notice and just stared at his hands.

The conductor came by and told him they were disturbing others. He was thinking, “What’s wrong with this fellow? Doesn’t he see how much havoc the kids are creating?” The man looked up, sighed and said, “Oh yes. Their mother died an hour ago. I guess they don’t know what to do with themselves either.” A total shift in perception.

Another story: My mom consistently said, “I never win anything. I’m not good enough.” I would encourage and support. I would cajole her to see the positive. At first, it was annoying. Over the years, I ramped up and took it personally. After all, she was my mom. Many good qualities and skills. Well educated. Community oriented. A church-going lady. I finally thought to ask why she said that. She quietly replied, “I don’t want to be disappointed.” Immediate change in my understanding.

The five little words that can change your world? What else could this mean? You can be an observer and not have to wade into the fray. If you step into a neutral space, you can breathe . . . and the world opens up. Minor dust-ups and misunderstandings can be worked out. Hotly contested arguments can be put aside. Exercise your creative mind and develop other options, knowing the truth lies somewhere in between.

But how to slow down and check out the situation?

  • Be mindful of when your button is pushed. Someone in your family consistently pushes your button, and you explode before you know it. Take some time to gently tease apart the reasons for this immediate reaction. Resolve each issue as it comes up, knowing your experiences resemble an onion. Watch as each layer unfolds.
  • It’s a challenge to hear opposing points of view. A friend has a different opinion from yours. You feel yourself getting steamed up. Do you shut her off? Or listen to what she has to say? Be curious as to your reaction rather than quickly getting stuck.
  • “My dog isn’t in this fight.” Hot and bothered about something where you’re not directly impacted? Ask yourself, ‘Is my dog in this fight?” If yes, listen intently and ask questions to help you understand. If not, let it go and watch from the sidelines. Your body and mind will thank you. (And insomnia will not plague you.)
  • Slow down the dialog. Listen to the words you are saying to yourself, and slooow dooown the wooorrrrddddss. Instead of “I’m fed up with my job,” try I’mmmm feeedddd uuuppp wwwwittthh my jjjjoooobbb.” Feel the difference inside. Get unstuck and grow lighter.
  • Put your words to music. The other day I came across a problem of my own. Instead of the nasty downward spiral I was creating, I sang the words describing the issue to the melody “Morning Has Broken.” My fussing disappeared. And I was laughing. How ridiculous. I was unstuck.

Want a happier (and less stressful) life? Ask yourself: “What else could this mean?” and change your perspective of your world. Live unstuck!

Those Five Little Words was last modified: February 21st, 2019 by Joan Courtney

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