A woman reader of my email newsletter came to see me for personal counseling.
She was intelligent, attractive, and financially quite well-off, but she had major concerns: “My husband doesn’t concern himself about me at all.
My children don’t understand my feelings in the least.
My parents have never done anything to help me.
I feel so isolated!” Yet from my point of view she seemed to be supported by her husband and family, and she also had a certain amount of assistance from her parents as well.
“She’s blessed,” I thought to myself.
“Haven’t they done anything for you?” I asked.
Her answer was “Well, maybe sometimes, but not as much as is usually the case.”
I took out a notepad and drew a line on a sheet of paper, making two columns: “Things they didn’t do for me” and “Things they did do for me.”
Then, as I listened to her tell her story, I wrote things down in each column.
There were all sorts of things in the first column:
“They don’t talk with me.”
“They don’t thank me for things.”
“They don’t listen to what I have to say.”
Since she didn’t bring up anything I could put into the second column, I started to question her myself:
“Who is providing financial support for you at this point?”
“Well . . . my husband is.”
“When you were a child, did your parents take care of you when you were sick?”
Proceeding like this, I found that there were more things in the second column than in the first.
This woman had been aware only of the things others had not done for her, and had no sense of how much she had been supported by others all along.
She was convinced that she was always on her own, and so didn’t notice how much she was being supported by others.
The result was that she suffered from a feeling of intense loneliness.
Her sense that “no one does anything for me” grew stronger and stronger; she was caught in a negative spiral, with her thoughts growing more and more negative.
I showed her the “things others have done for me” column, and said to her, “You’ve been supported by lots of other people.
You’re not alone at all! If you focus more on the things people have done for you and less on the times things didn’t go as you wished, your feelings will change very much for the better.”
Realizing that she had not in fact been alone, the woman burst into tears.
Then, calming down, she said to me, “Thank you.I’ll try looking at things in a more positive light from now on” and left our meeting place with a bright smile.
There are people who, though actually blessed with a good environment, are filled with resentment and dissatisfaction, thinking “They don’t do this for me; they don’t do that for me.”
Unable to feel grateful for their blessings, they end up feeling lonely.
Instead of demanding things from others, let’s cultivate an attitude of gratitude for their small kindnesses.
If you only make demands on others, you will fail to notice the actual small kindnesses they show you.
Let’s have regard for the people around us.
Then we will see that many small acts of consideration and kindness surround us on all sides.
As we gaze at the night sky, we gradually become aware of the twinkling of the stars.
When the sun goes down, we begin to notice of the radiance of the stars, which had up till then been obscured by the powerful light of the sun.
If you suppress for a bit such thoughts as “They don’t do this for me; they don’t do that for me,” you will soon become aware of the many small acts of consideration and kindness that are shown you.