Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

In case of unhappiness, read this…

Having embraced my unhappiness for the last three days, I emerge today peaceful, happy and loving, and ready to go on with my present life. And because I can see clearly now without the clouds of resistance and self-judgement, I also have a few words of wisdom for my past and future unhappy self. So here’s a personal ongoing list of get–me–unhappy beliefs, and what to remind myself next time one of these clouds come over me…

1. I can’t (insert action) _____

Why not?

2. I have to (insert action) _____

What will happen if you don’t?
Who will judge you if you don’t? (List them all, along with the judgements)
Who will judge you if the consequence you don’t want to happen, actually happens?

Unless a different intelligence takes over your body, nothing and nobody can force you to do anything. Even at gunpoint, you always choose among a list of probable (though not always certain) consequences.

If you do in fact choose to (insert undesired action) _____ because you want to avoid a consequence or judgement… because in the end you believe that doing this is what’s best for you… why are you making yourself unhappy?

What will happen if you do this (noted, undesired) action happily?

Often you may make yourself unhappy, because if you don’t show enough unhappiness, then you’ll likely be put in this position again…

  • Will your unhappiness effectively stop somebody’s actions that result in you being in this position again?
  • Are there any other alternatives more effective at preventing this situation in the future?
  • What will happen if right now, just this time, you do this undesired action happily?

3. I will be happier when (insert event) _____

Funny. That’s exactly what you thought when you were wishing for everything you currently have, and even now, having the things you wanted, you still find reasons to be unhappy, ironically, many times in relationship to those same things you wanted.

At 25, you needed to find your soul mate. You found Joey at 26.
At 27 you needed to marry Joey. You married him at 28.
At 30 you needed to change to a more creative career. You became a web designer and successfully made a living as such until…
At 34 you needed to have a child. You gave birth to Joaquin at 35.
At 37 you needed to succeed as an artisan.

That’s where you were before you found out Joaquin’s autism and your life took a huge shift for BETTER. But even today, as Joaquin reaches milestones you weren’t certain would happen, you often find reasons to be unhappy. And if you continue this pattern, even after you contemplate Joaquin reaching the milestones you think today that will make you happy, you’ll still have something to be unhappy about.

Bottom line: Getting what you want does not guarantee your happiness. So why wait?

What will happen if you are happy now, even while (insert event) _____ hasn’t happened?… Ah! You won’t whip yourself hard enough to do all you possibly can to bring this event to your life. Here are a few questions to ponder…

  • How excited are you to work on this project when you’re whipping yourself?
  • Is the final outcome certain if you do all these things you think you need to do?
  • What will happen if this event doesn’t happen?

4. I don’t have time for myself

Let’s gather some actual data to see if this is in fact true. Joey’s feeling is (and I sort of agree) that you do have time but don’t let yourself enjoy it by feeling guilty about it. I also think sometimes you waste chunks of it away doing things you think you should do so you and others don’t judge you, rather than really using it the way you want… The way you would really feel free.

Now, the reason why you want time for yourself (when you want it) is because you are currently unhappy, and think that when you get that time for you, you will be happy. But the truth is that, if you were currently happy, you wouldn’t be craving this crumb of happiness. You would already be happy. Get it?… So how about a strategy, deciding to be happy with whatever you’re doing. That way, when time for yourself happens, it’s great. But it wouldn’t be something you desperately need to be happy. You can give yourself the experience of happiness any time. It’s always a matter of deciding — you’ve experimented with this and found that it works. No need to wait for the Universe to provide certain events.

5. Unlike me, (insert person’s name) _____ has that thing I don’t have and really want. She must be happy, and I’m not.

You don’t really know how happy, or happier than you _____ is. Why does her level of happiness concern you?… Why are you comparing yourself to this person?

Most likely, having that thing you don’t have and she does, would not give you ever-lasting happiness. See belief 3 above.

Also, right now, while you contemplate somebody as possessor of the thing you want, somebody else is contemplating you in the same way. But you’re not happy. Right now, you’re choosing to focus on the thing/s you don’t have, and ignore all of those good ones that you do have. Why?

And finally, remember this insight that has come to you more than once when you’ve been in this situation…

When you resent somebody’s “having”… when you have the emotion of envy… It is as if you’re telling the Universe that you don’t want that to exist for anybody. You’re wanting nobody to have it, because you don’t have it. And what you’re doing is telling the Universe not to give it at all, so the Universe won’t give it to you. So this has also worked… Next time you feel envy for somebody, for something… Love it. Love him/her. Send love and appreciation to the person. Send your approval and gratitude for somebody having this in their lives. Realize that somebody’s having means that you can also have it. It is possible. And be thankful for it. Your unhappiness will melt away, and something tells me that these thoughts will actually be helping you build the templates for that reality to manifest in your life.

6. I need (insert person’s name) _____ to (insert action) _____

Granted. The right display of unhappiness may succeed at affecting some people’s actions so you get what you want. Problem is, it doesn’t last. Problem is, when they don’t really want to give it, you’ll end up dealing with unintended side effects.

Notice also how the same behavior in a specific person doesn’t always have the same effect on you. Sometimes it means so much!, sometimes it doesn’t even touch you. Why is that?

Triggering this belief often comes accompanied by mental or spoken judgement on (insert person’s name) _____. Please, try to suspend your judgements. Considering the ways how (insert person’s name) _____ is doing the best he/she can, often helps. Then it’s easier to pursue alternatives that don’t pin your happiness on a completely unpredictable variable over which you have very little power.

7. I may fail. I may fall.

Let me take you back in time… Summer of 1997, first week at business school… A group activity involving a ropes course in the coming days… You worried yourself so much in anticipation of the event. You’ve always thought you get more vertigo than the average person and were expecting to have a very hard time on the ropes. But do you remember what happened?

As you surrendered your body while they put the climbing gear on you, you were suddenly surrounded by complete peace and acute presentness. It was as if somebody had given an epidural to your heart. You could not feel any fear, no anticipation at all. You walked towards the course as if you were meeting your destiny, without emotion. Started to walk and balance on the ropes although your steps were still somewhat cautious. And suddenly, you fell down.

You didn’t die or break your body. There were ropes and clips, and harnesses tied to your body keeping you safe. And as you hung from the rope while they helped you climb again, an immense sense of trust came over you. You had lost your fear to fall, here and everywhere. From that moment on, your steps were daring and full of confidence. One of the staff even smiled at you and commented “You don’t seem to be challenged at all by this”. You were not. You learned so much from that experience. It gave you the courage to suck up all your fears about your life for the next two years. And beyond.

But just because you seem to forget sometimes, specially now that you’re going through the biggest challenge of your life (so far)…

You are always safe, tied to ropes and clips and harnesses and a perfect safety net that will catch your every fall. That Source you have recently re-found is always there for you, keeping you safe, leading you, always available for you to connect and get everything you really need… Giving you every experience you need to go through in order to grow and fulfill your mission in this life. Trust feels wonderful. You know this well.

And what is failure?…
Not getting what you want.
Not getting what you worked hard to get.
Not getting what you think others get.

Why do you fear making mistakes?
Because you are responsible. And you are. And that is good.
The thing is you can only control one piece of the puzzle… You… The rest of the variables and hence the final outcome is out of your control. So why do you think you will take full responsibility for the whole chain of events that may result in you not getting something you want?

And what is a mistake?
I thought you didn’t believe in mistakes…

8. I hate that I have to waste my time (insert recurring maintenance activity) _____ all day / every day / every week / etc.

Doing dishes, cooking every meal, washing and blow drying hair, doing laundry, picking up clutter, cleaning bathrooms… You dislike these activities when your mind is focused on the belief that they don’t ever move things forward. All these things need to be done over and over just to keep life in order. If you stop doing them, there are negative consequences. If you do them, nobody notices.

But that belief isn’t always itching when you use your time this way. Meaning, these activities don’t bring unhappiness intrinsically. You make yourself unhappy only sometimes. You do this (perhaps when some other bigger source of unhappiness is present) as a way to motivate yourself to find a solution that will liberate you / or free up some time in relationship to all this necessary maintenance. The notion of “opportunity cost” is at the front of your thoughts… “If I didn’t have to wash dishes all day, I could do something much better with my time”.

So you’ve made yourself irritated and many times have decided that as soon as you have some free time, you will use your education as an Industrial Engineer to craft yourself a plan, flow chart, and weekly schedule you can live by which will optimize your time and make all this stuff happen in a smooth way so you will not notice it and hopefully will never ever be unhappy about it.

And you still have not worked on this project… That’s because when the time comes, you use again your notion of opportunity cost and decide that since that plan is not really going to create happiness in your life, better spend this time doing something that does make you happy right now. Good for you.

So here’s something to consider next time you find yourself a victim while doing maintenance…

  • You have used unhappiness in the past to motivate yourself to change things. It hasn’t worked though, so why keep using the same old automatic strategy?
  • You have used unhappiness in the past to motivate others to help you. It usually works for one day, and then the magic powder runs out and people / things go back to the way they were before you threw your tantrum.
  • Although not evident in every single one of these activities, while you may not see enduring results or things moving forward upon completion of the task, some of these repetitive activities (i.e. coking nutritious food for you and your family) do in fact produce a worthy payoff you believe is real although you may never be able to correlate it with the time / effort you spent. So here’s an alternative thought for the chatter that invades you while you feel like a victim: Come up with payoffs you believe true for the maintenance activity at hand. Think of reasons why should be excited to do what you’re doing. There’s always something, and that’s a much more interesting way to use your mind.
  • It’s okay to ask for help. But it works much better when you ask for it from a non-judgmental place. It works even better, when you ask from a loving place. Sometimes that’s a stretch, so just do your best.

If the Universe in fact agrees that your time should be better spent doing something else, and there is a solution that will accomplish the maintenance while freeing up some time… It is far more likely that you will receive such guidance (bright perfect idea) at a moment when you’re at peace, working happily and lovingly, vibrating high and consciously intending to do your best while you’re doing what you’re doing, rather than when your mind is full of angry, resentful, judging, victim thoughts. You’re not in listening mode. You will not see solutions when you’re in this dark place.

And when you’re in the dark closet, remember to breathe peace and love through your heart. Right where you are… Right while you’re contemplating and feeling the chaos. Don’t wait for a perfect moment to meditate. Do it right there, in the middle of the reality you’re currently perceiving. Dr. Sue Morter explained that when you allow the low vibration to be in the same place with the high vibration, it melts away. It worked today!… You immediately became present. You felt your head relax immediately, and your heart expand. And you were not irritated any more. And you proceeded to wash a million dishes happily, and that’s when all these wise thoughts you’re currently writing came to you.

But if this doesn’t work, and something in you is not letting you come out of the dark place… Be okay with staying there. Trust that it’s not forever, and it’s not your fault. Most likely you’re being purified in some way, and the light will shine again when you’re ready… And you’ll come out stronger than when you entered, ready for the next step.

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  1. On , Vivienne A. wrote:

    This is beautiful, and very brave. What a great summation of the thoughts we all have (or should have) in our head.

    (and speaking of the ropes course – I think that maybe, I should have let myself fall off that course. :) I didn’t fall, but instead acquired a mild aversion to heights which I’d never had until then. Nothing that gets in the way of life, but probably I wouldn’t even think about it if I’d done it and found that I was safe. ;))

  2. On , Maria wrote:

    You didn’t fall?… Wow!
    Thank you Vivienne :)

  3. On , Devra wrote:

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Totally, one of the best things I’ve read in a while. Speak truth, sister.

  4. On , Maria wrote:

    He he!… Thank you Devra… Still pouring out of me. Every day I’ve written a little bit more with the lessons that come to me that day. A work in progress cheat sheet that is actually helping me a lot. It will be interesting to re-read in some time to check how I’m doing with these recurring beliefs.