You’ve probably heard it before, and know from your own experience: It’s easy to be calm and positively focused when all is going well. The REAL TEST is how you handle life in the face of major emotional upheavals.
Abraham uses the term “contrast” for any experience that is different from what we would choose to experience. Like an artist placing a dark color next to a lighter color creates visual contrast, the difference between experiences we want and those we don’t want creates emotional contrast. This past week, I had some major emotional contrast that gave me an opportunity to learn and grow.
Last Sunday night, I was in my home office working when I heard blood-curdling howling from my sweet kitty, Thelma. I raced to find her in my son’s room (she never goes in there), behind the door, her body shaking and unable to move or stand. As soon as I saw her, I realized that my darling Thelma – the caregiver kitty and loveball extraordinaire – was preparing to transition into non-physical energy. (That’s metaphysical-speak …Abraham just calls it “croaking” because they say there is no death, only energetic transformation.)
Everyone who knows me, knows that I truly adore kitties, and especially the bonded pair I adopted in early 2008 (Thelma and Louise). Thelma had become my personal shadow and furry office receptionist. She rarely left my side, showing such unconditional love and devotion that I sometimes wondered if she thought she was human!
So, when I saw her Sunday night, I realized just how much I was NOT ready to see her leave physical form!!! Seeing her like this was heartbreaking. I was crying and had to keep reminding myself: This was HER process, not mine. My job was to love her and honor her through that process.
The next morning, I made preparations to take Thelma to the Humane Society. Once I had her loaded in her carrier, sitting safely in the back seat, I began the drive to the new facility on the other side of South Bay.
What happened next really surprised me: As I drove, one negative thought after another piled into my mind. This is not normal for me. Usually, when a thought arises that fills me with negative emotion, I know it is an indicator to shift my thinking and get clear about what I really want. Once I do, I milk those better-feeling thoughts until they quickly multiply and I am feeling much better.
Monday was different. Instead of milking positive thoughts, I had been unconsciously milking NEGATIVE THOUGHTS about losing this precious kitty. I dearly wanted Thelma to LIVE, without pain or discomfort, but that option was not present. Every stop light, I had to remind myself that this was HER process – and if she was ready to go – it was not my place to keep her stuck in her painful, paralyzed body.
No matter how I looked at it, this was MAJOR CONTRAST for me:
Seeing Thelma immobilized and in pain = CONTRAST
Thinking of losing Thelma = CONTRAST
As I drove my precious Thelma to the Humane Society on Monday, my dominant thoughts were about losing her, and not having her soft, furry body cuddled up with me, purring and happy to be with me. The more I milked these thoughts, the harder I cried and the worse I felt. At times, I could barely see the road in front of me because of the tears.
Then I realized: In my deep sadness and milking negative thoughts, I had taken a wrong turn and was heading in the wrong direction. Both literally…and emotionally!
This sudden realization snapped me out of my cycle of negative thinking. I realized I had to quickly compose myself and get going in the right direction. But, when you are that far down the negative rabbit hole, how do you quickly excavate yourself and start feeling better? That’s when my coaching skills kicked in. I remembered that I do have control over the thoughts I choose to think. For me the key was…
Get back in the present moment by Focusing ONLY on what I know is true *right now*!
Moment-by-moment, I shifted my focus only to what I knew to be true….
I am driving in the wrong direction and need to turn around.
I hear Thelma is meowing in her carrier.
I am turning the car around.
I am now driving in the right direction.
I am not sure where I am, so I will ask directions.
(Stopped and got directions.)
I am going in the right direction now.
I am at the Humane Society’s parking lot wondering which entrance to use.
I see a vet tech and ask about the entrances, and go in the one she recommends.
I am carrying Thelma inside.
I am speaking with the staff and carrying Thelma down the hall…
As I focused only on the present, my energy shifted immediately and I was able to compose myself. I was calm and focused, able to give my full attention to each task. I still cried, but I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed.
Thelma passed peacefully of natural causes just after being given the anesthesia. It was her time to go. This was her process and her timing, and I was at peace being present with her at that sacred moment of transition.
Focusing only on the present moment, second to second, helped me quickly shift out of the negative cycling and remain calm and present when it really mattered.
As I drove home, I realized that thinking about losing a beloved pet is just one sad thought. If I had allowed myself to be present with that one thought, it would have been enough. That sad thought didn’t need my unconscious help to become 10 – 15 – or 20 sad thoughts all at one time. I came away from this experience realizing that I have the power to remain calm and focused in the midst of major contrast – and all I have to do is DECIDE to be fully present and focus only on what I know to be true.
Have you had an experience like this? How do you turn your thoughts around in the red-hot moment of contrast?