title:Things Are Good Because I Say They Are
The subject of positive self talk regarding our goals and dreams reminds me of the childhood story, The Velveteen Rabbit. The boy loves the toy so much that a magic fairy comes and turns the toy bunny into a real rabbit. She tells the bunny it has been loved so much that it has earned the right to be real.
Wouldn’t it be great if all we had to do was to love our dreams and fantasies until a magic fairy came, and poof, our dreams were real? How many of us would forget to love our dreams enough? Would they be lost under the bed like some long ago childhood toy? What if it really was that simple?
Years ago, I was a single mom with two small children. Both were still in diapers. We were on welfare and getting help with housing assistance. I had $335 each month to support a family of three. There was no husband, no boyfriend, no child support and no reason to believe any of those things were every coming near me. My friends were all happily married and most did not even have children yet. I was struggling to come up with money to buy diapers and they were buying boats and campers and going on long vacations. I was very frightened and alone. I had no family around to help me out of my situation and my childhood friends were all too busy with their new lives to be of much help to me. They all had careers and their families and new in-laws to hang out with. They loved me, but often forgot to even check on my kids and me.
I spent a lot of time alone while my babies were sleeping or playing together. I realized how sad my children’s lives would be. They were being raised by a sad lonely depressed welfare mom. I could not do that to them. I could not afford to get counseling, so I went to the library to research “happiness.” I began to read everything I could get my hands on. I did not want my kids to grow up secluded, scared, and depressed like me. My research lead me to books on religion, romance, parenting, spirituality, everything.
After a few months, I realized I was reading the same message over and over again. It did not matter what topic I was reading, it always came down to attitude. What I believe is what I will see. What I see is what I live. That is when I wrote my life’s mantra: Things are good, because I say they are.
I wrote it on a half sized sheet of my nicest pink paper with my favorite purple pen and taped it to my bathroom mirror. I saw it many times each day. Every time I brushed my teeth it was there. “Things are good, because I say they are.” Every time I washed my hands, “Things are good, because I say they are.” Every time I put on makeup or brushed my hair, “Things are good, because I say they are.” It began to work it’s magic on me.
I decided to fake it and act like I was happy. I made a rule… from then on, I would only tell people the good things in my life. I would no longer tell them how many bill collectors called that day or that my three year old was probably never going to be potty trained. I was not in denial. I simply wanted to practice this positive attitude stuff I had read so much about. Would it really change my life? I doubted it, but I was going to at least give it an honest try.
Whenever someone asked me “How are things going?” I would remember my little statement and tell them, “Things are good!” I would make myself find positive stories about my life to tell them. I owe my children a great debt of gratitude for providing me with something to smile at every day of their lives. Never has a day gone by since they were born have they not at the very minimum made me smile if not fully laugh out loud.
The only positive things I had to tell were funny stories about my two kids. People may have gotten tired of always hearing about my babies, but that was all I had for examples. “Things are good! My son is finally potty trained!” “Things are good! My daughter did the funniest little dance the other day! It went something like this…” They all thought I was this good little mom who was obsessed with her kids. The truth is, I had nothing positive to say about myself.
I cannot tell you when the exact moment was, but about a year later, I realized that I was not faking it anymore. Things really were good. I had proven the theory “fake it until it’s real.” I had gone back to work and was learning a new career. My kids were in a wonderful safe environment while I was at work. They loved their daycare center. My career was worth talking about. I joined a local gym and started working out every day. My kids loved the playroom there and were thrilled with going straight from daycare to the playroom at the gym. They hadn’t suffered because I had taken care of my own happiness.
We had a lot less time together during the week, but everyone was very happy. Our weekends became our time for adventures. I started dating again. I had fixed my credit to the point that I was able to buy a new car without a cosigner. When people asked me, “How’s it going?” I actually had something besides my kids to talk about. Things WERE good, because I SAID they were. That magic fairy must have made it real when I wasn’t looking.
This article was adapted from a segment of Beyond the Inner-Critic by Skye Thomas, copyright 2003.