Ever feel like your beef with someone – maybe with an ex, or even a friend or a boss – is getting to your head? Maybe you feel the negative effects of a grudge sending you spinning, weighing you down.
I'll admit it. I have a very active mental life, emotional life, creative life, and one of the things I’m really bad at is letting things go. But I know, and you know, that thoughts are energy, and energy manifests in your life. So, I have developed a way to change this negative pattern.
In this episode, I'll show you how you can start cultivating more positivity in your life with just one simple trick.
Because, although your anger and resentment is for someone else, it's affecting you and your loved ones. You deserve to clear your mind, once and for all.
Stuck being angry at your ex? Try this easy trick …
Emma: You know what? One of my many shortcomings is that I have a very active mental life, emotional life, creative life, but one of the things I’m really bad at is letting things go. I find myself having arguments with people that I have had beef with, in my head, over and over. I know, and you know, that thoughts are energy, and energy manifests in your life. I have developed a tool and a trick to change this.
I want you to think about this. If you have an ex, especially an ex-husband or partner, who is the father of your kids, this is so critical. It might also apply if you’re angry if your mom, or your boss, or past boss, friend you’re having a fight with or had a fight with five years ago that you can’t let go of, those are the worst. I have been there, and I’m so guilty of that.
This is what I want you to do right now. You might do it out loud, or you might write it down, but I want you to come up with a list of ten positive things about your ex. Ten positive things. I’m going to do mine in a minute. I’m in a good place with my ex, but trust me, I’ve not always been there at all. Things have been really ugly over the years here and there. I’m going to share a list of ten because once you start doing it, it feels so good you could go on forever.
The value of this is to get you out of that spiraling negativity and start to focus on the positive. That’s kind of the obvious. You’ve probably already figured that one out. When you start to focus on the positive, you’ve already been focusing on the negative things you hate about this person, all of their shortcomings, all the sudden you start to see this person as a person, a fallible human being, just like you and just like me. Really, this is a process of healing and forgiveness.
When you are seeing the bad and good in someone, you are able to see the bad and good in yourself and everybody else around you. This is how humans are. There is not one single being on this planet that is not both negative and positive, that does not have shortcomings but also many wonderful qualities. I am here to tell you, every single person does.
Why saying positive things about someone changes your whole life:
When you start reframing this person, you start reframing your relationship with them. Face it, you chose that person. You chose them to marry, you chose them to hook up with, to have a baby with. There was choice.
All the sudden you start to see that all that anger is really maybe not at that person. Maybe you’re really angry at yourself for choosing that person. Maybe you’re angry at yourself for the relationship not working out. Or you’re angry with yourself because you can’t come to a place of peace with them right now. It really is an act of forgiveness and humanity towards yourself.
All the sudden, there’s a very, very interesting byproduct of this. That is, when you organically start to work out some of your stuff in the relationship with this person, this translates into how you talk about your ex, or your kid’s dad, and other people in your life. All the sudden, it does not become this black and white, good and bad, angel and devil. That’s not real. That’s a fake, weird, perspective on life. That is not human.
Why forgiving your ex makes you a better mom
All the sudden you are more easily able to share positive memories with your kids. You’re able to point out positive qualities that their dad has. Or maybe this is their grandparents or a friend that’s in your lives, or your neighbor. All the sudden, you are communicating with your kid that you love all of them. You love all of your child. You love the parts of your child that remind him of you, and you love the parts of your child that remind your child of his dad. It’s also telling your child that you really love your child. When you paint people as black and white, they are either in or out. Your child knows that he has some shortcomings and not great qualities, and it makes your child more confident in your love because now you are expressing that you are able to love all of your child, the good, and the bad, and the ugly. That’s very hard to communicate when you paint somebody else important in your child’s life as purely bad.
I want you to try it. Communicate with yourself first and see how this translates into other relationships in your life, by listing ten things that you love, loved, or appreciate about your ex. I will be part of this too. I will go first.
My list of positive things about my ex:
My ex is super funny. To this day, he can crack me up. I appreciate that he is politically very progressive. I like that he is interesting. He does very interesting things in the world. He’s very active. He volunteers. He takes classes. He’s actively involved in the world in a meaningful way. He’s a good dad. He is there for his kids. He teaches his kids stuff. He’s strict with them in a way that I don’t find easy to be. Many times, he has supported me when I’ve had challenges with my kids. Not too long ago when he was dropping them off, right in front of the kids, I was like, “You know what? We have a problem in our house with the kids back-talking to me all the time.” Right then and there, he gave them a talking to about respecting their mom and being grateful that they have good parents. Man, I will tell you what, it changed my household. I am very grateful to him for that. I also like about him that he has good taste. He buys the kids clothes all the time. He buys them much nicer clothes than I would ever buy, and they look cute, and that’s because of him. I appreciate he’s very talented in his career. He works in video and he’s very confident, and I very much appreciate that. He has a great work ethic, which is important to me, and I hope that my children acquire too.
I don't know how many I’m on. I’m going to throw in three more.
He just adores the kids. He adores and loves them in a way that I would hope any child could benefit from. He’s smart. He’s smart in ways that I’m not. He’s excellent in languages. He has a visual intelligence and a physical intelligence that I don’t possess, that I admire. He’s a good person. He really is a good person.
Related posts about having a positive relationship with your ex:
Now, it’s your turn. Why don’t you just share, right now, in the comments, positive things about your ex? The harder it is to think of them, and the harder it is to write, the more you want to put caveats on it, the more you need this exercise.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.