I will never forget the day when I heard the phrase, “But that’s not your journey.” It was a late Fall day and my kitchen was filled with the scent of apple pie. I had been baking all day in between laundry, driving the kids to/from school and phone sessions with clients. I knew I was overloaded with my own thoughts and plans, but my awareness did not stop me from being annoyed at a friend of mine who had called me to whine about splitting up with her boyfriend. She (we’ll call her Alicia) was taking their daughter and moving into a motel about a mile away. With the phone perched to my ear and my arms up to my elbows in pie dough, I listened as she ranted about what he had done to her. She complained about how he was making her move out and how she had no choice. It really bothered me that she was choosing the victim route, but she was not in any space to hear me so I just listened and tried to be the friend she needed me to be.
After the call, I was thoroughly agitated. I then called another friend who happened to be a psychologist. I explained how the whole situation was wrong and how much it bothered me that Alicia was choosing to allow all this stuff to happen to her…and as I was rambling on and on about Alicia- I heard my friend sigh. I stopped talking.
“What?”, I asked.
“Ya know, Leslie, you can only be responsible for your own journey and your own choices. Alicia’s journey is hers to have and to learn, not yours.”
Suddenly 2 things occurred to me that never had before- 1) My apple pie was burning and 2) this one thought released from everyone else’s shit.
And then yet another thought occurred to me- I am solely responsible for my own journey. I am solely responsible for my own journey. One more time for effect- I am solely responsible for my journey. Since I was not taking blame or responsibility for any one else’s life choices then I was the only one I could blame for my own. I couldn’t blame my husband or my mom or my sister in law for anything. It was only me. There was an overwhelming sense of power with this knowledge as well as that sinking feeling of being expected to be a grown up and do all of the things grown ups do. Grown ups say their sorry and they say it first, grown ups try again when they don’t succeed the first time and grown ups are role models for the little people who were looking to us to teach them everything.
I thought a lot about Alicia for days after that and I made a very unusual decision. I allowed my communication with Alicia to cease. With the knowledge that I am responsible for my own journey and that she is responsible for her’s, I was not comfortable about her life choices and I no longer wanted to be included in the negative energy she showered on me on a daily basis. I could remember at least a dozen conversations Alicia and I had that left me agitated or down which caused me to be in a reactive state with my kids and my husband.
I call this the trickle down theory.
The trickle down theory is what happens when one person says or does something to you or around you that causes you to house and hold onto the negative energy and then release it onto another situation or person. Here is how I explained this to my daughter, Grace, who was having a challenging morning and seemed to wake up on the wrong side of the planet. She was snapping at her little brother, Leo, who was asking her a totally innocent and innocuous question. I tilted her little chin up to my face and explained the domino effect that would be happening.
“Your mean words,” I explained, “will place a small piece of negative energy into your brother’s body. You may feel better after releasing it, but now Leo carries it. Sometime today he will need to let it go because it doesn’t feel good to keep bad energy in our minds and bodies. So, in response, he may be mean to one of his friends.”
She asked the inevitable question, “Then HOW do I get rid of my negative energy, Mommy?”
“Excellent question!” I grabbed her arms, put them around my waist and hugged her close. She melted into my embrace. I kissed the top of her head and we rocked gently for a moment. From the front of my sweatshirt I heard a muffled voice that said, “Are you going to tell me now?”
“How do you feel now?” I held her away form me to look at her face.
“Much better!” she smiled then looked thoughtful for a moment.
“So, when I am feeling cranky or angry, I should hug you?” she looked absolutely young and beautiful.
“Exactly! But not only me…you can hug Daddy or the dogs or even your brother. Nothing changes negativity like positive touch and affection.”
She wrinkled her nose at the suggestion to hug her brother, but then she looked up at me again and asked, “Will anything else get rid of my negative energy?”
“Another excellent question! You can do something energetic like jumping jacks or running around or even tell a funny joke.”
My son then started doing jumping jack and screaming, “Knock knock! Who’s there? Banana! Banana WHO? Knock knock!”
Grace and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes and laughed.
I do a visualization with many of my clients when they seem to have lost their sense of their journey. I guide them to picture a pathway underneath their feet. The pathway contains words, pictures and phrases that are meaningful to them. I add words and concepts we have already discussed such as, “Peaceful” and “Joyful”. I guide them to notice how the words are glowing bright with warm energy and that their movements are flowing and relaxed. Each time they take a step, the energy from these words are absorbed into their feet and pulled up into their bodies. With each step they take, the energy grows and they can feel it seeping into each part of their bodies, flowing with their bloodstream reaching to the furthest points of their body.
This guided imagery allows my client to make the connection with their subconscious and conscious mind that this, indeed, is their pathway. They are choosing to glide along with each footstep bringing the energy of their own goals and aspirations into their minds and bodies.
Keeping your nose out of everyone’s journey frees up al that time and space spent on judgement and negativity and allows the focus on your own, beautiful pathway to the incredible journey that is your own.