Positive Relationships Start With The Inner Landscape

by Naomi Drew M.A.

To be comfortable in the world, stay calm and clear.

-Lao Tzu

Have you ever noticed how much your state of mind affects the wayyou relate to other people and they to you?  When we feel grouchy, irritable, or negative, our bad feelings tend to spill out and cast a negative shadow on our relationships with others.  Conflicts and divisions often erupt as a result.

Negative thoughts and a negative mindset drain our energy and affect the people around us. Yet we have the ability to shift the quality of our inner landscape.

A perfect example: A few weeks ago I was scheduled to lead several workshops in New York.  As I walked to the bus stop, rain poured down almost torrentially.  Waiting for the bus, my feet were soaked, my hands freezing, and I worried that my workshop materials would succumb to dampness.  I felt myself getting grouchier and grouchier as I stood there in the cold rain.  When the bus finally arrived I handed the driver  my ticket and said, "What a bad day!"  He looked at me with the calmness of a Zen master, and gently said, "It's not a bad day -- it's just raining."  Click -- my mind shifted immediately with these simple but profound words. During the two-hour ride to New York, I decided to focus on appreciation, letting myself feel gratitude for the beauty of rain on naked trees, the warm comfort of the bus, excitement about the workshops I would be leading, and for countless other good things in my life. I arrived in New York refreshed and happy and brought a sense of positive energy to my workshop participants.

Every moment is an opportunity to choose the content of our inner landscape. I'm not talking about blinding ourselves to the ills of the world or to our own pain -- what I'm talking about is resisting the downward spiral of negative thoughts that bind our spirits.  Yes, pain exists, but so does goodness.  How we hold each determines the quality of our lives and the texture of our relationships.

Notice your thoughts.  Which ones give you peace and power, which bring you down?  In every moment notice, then choose to shift mental gears if you find yourself caught in the downward spiral of negative thoughts, reactions, or judgments.  The accumulation of shifts creates a new habit of the mind, one that affords greater peace inside and healthier relationships with others.

Empowerment statements are one method of shifting the mind into a more positive, peaceful mode. Our world is thirsty for even the smallest ripples of peace.  The first ripple begins inside of ourselves.


Empowerment statements help us replace negative thoughts with thoughts that give us energy. Dr. Shad Helmstetter, author of What You Say When You Talk to Yourself, says: "In the past, too often we learned to automatically believe the worst first, and the best last.  But now we have learned that it does not have to be that way.  There is something, starting right now, that you can do about it.  It is the key to how you manage yourself and how you live and manage the rest of your life."  Empowerment statements are that key. 

Here's an example of how empowerment statements helped me make a huge shift. I'd always dreamed of being a writer.  Yet deep inside I believed this was out of the realm of possibility.  Early in my teaching career I attended a workshop on empowerment statements and decided I'd have nothing to lose by creating a few for myself.

One of the empowerment statements I came up with was, "I am a published author."  I decided that each day before work I would repeat my empowerment statement and picture it coming to pass.  This daily ritual kept my mind open to what I wanted to create, instead of allowing it to remain stuck behind a wall of discouragement. The more I repeated my empowerment statement, the more it became a part of me.

Little by little things started showing up that were in line with my empowerment statement: I learned about a local writers' group, I came across significant books on the craft of writing, and eventually discovered a master's program in writing.  Six books later, I look back and realize how critically important was the daily focus on my empowerment statement, and how integral that statement was in moving me from a negative to positive mindset. And as I focused on this positive vision for myself, I related to people around me in a far more positive way.

In the words of former Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, "The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, but in what direction we are moving."  Empowerment statements help us set our sails in a direction of our choosing, and quiet voice that tells us we can't. 

Each of us is capable of relating to ourselves, the people in our lives, and the world around us in positive affirming ways.  When we choose to do this we add a few much needed ripples of peace to our immediate environments and beyond.

Copyright, Naomi Drew, 2006



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