I’ve been watching and listening to Marisa Peer A LOT on YouTube in the past week. She’s a British hypnotherapist and self-confidence master, and if you don’t know about her, you absolutely should in my opinion!

Anyway, Marisa teaches how to radically — and rapidly — change your experience of life by the words you think and say. Nothing incredibly new in that, but her 30+ years of experience and simple, straightforward, repeated messages have had a great effect on me. (Thank you Marisa!) I got it as never before that I am responsible for my thoughts, which create the kind of life I live.

Two days ago, at the end of my morning chanting and prayers, I found myself determining to conquer my negative thoughts. I didn’t plan to think this. It just emerged from my subconscious into my conscious mind, probably as a result of frequent exposure to Marisa Peer’s teachings. And probably because my life knows I need to do this!

As anyone who has ever made a determination or a resolution knows, the negative aspects of life invariably rise up to try to prevent the positive change from happening. But in the moment that I made the determination, I forgot about this.

I went to work feeling good. That didn’t last long.

A worldwide corporation purchased the family-owned company I work for in September last year. Everything has changed, including every form of software we’ve ever used. We recently have a new system that is neither intuitive nor user-friendly. I have FASD (foetal alcohol syndrome disorder) so I have inconsistent brain processing and memory recall when it comes to left-brain things such as technology. The education on how to use the new system has been either sketchy or non-existent, which hasn’t helped. Everyone’s phone has rung incessantly since the beginning of the week when our now larger customer base returned to work after the holidays. Emails kept piling up in my and my colleagues’ inboxes. Add to this the upheaval of moving into a new location in a number of days. Oh, and I’m working in French now also, which I haven’t used on a daily basis in a work setting for 25 years.

I started out repeating to myself, “I am enough. I like myself.” But very quickly my determination to conquer my negative thoughts flew right out the window. I felt completely overwhelmed, helpless, hopeless and stressed out of my mind.

I went into the Canadian VP’s office to ask if he had time for a question about a customer. When he said yes, the words that blurted out of my mouth were, “What am I doing here?” I followed hurriedly with, “No, that’s not really my question.” And then, because I couldn’t help myself, I repeated, “But what am I doing here?” I tried to laugh it off before asking him about the account.

I am responsible for my thoughts, which create the kind of life I live.

I returned to my desk, my stress level mounting by the minute, caused, I told myself, by “this nightmare.” I knew I was going to burst into tears at any moment, so back I went to my VP’s office. In addition to all the usual top exec skills, he’s also an approachable, thoughtful, kind and wise man who informed us that his door is always open if we need to talk about something.

I stood there, trembling, fighting back tears, and told him how I felt. Just voicing my self-doubting and despairing thoughts to someone who really listened helped. He calmed me down; reframed the situation for me; made a very practical helpful suggestion; and then, wonder of wonders, said something (deliberately) that made me laugh. My stress level fell sufficiently to enable me to eat a late but nourishing lunch, which in turn reduced my tension.

But not for long.

The colleague who works next to me replaced the receiver after one of many phone calls the past few days about his sick German Shepherd dog. He came up to me, blurted out, “I have to put her down,” and abruptly left the room. I could feel his energy, so I followed him. I found him around a couple of corners, in a corridor, crouched with his back against the wall, his head in his hands, sobbing his heart out.

We’ve worked together for eight years, and I know how much he loves his dog. I’ve also seen her with him. She adored him. He’s a real man’s man, a football coach in his spare time, so to see him broken and in such pain really upset me.

So now I felt like bursting into tears all over again.

After work I was due to present a talk on life-condition at a student SGI Buddhist club at the University of Toronto. I sat in my car after parking it on a residential street nearby and did my evening prayers and chanted for about 20 minutes. My upset lessened as I focused my chanting and thoughts on the young people I had the opportunity to encourage. I still expressed my work situation to myself as a nightmare, but as I walked down the street in the dark towards the university, I knew I’d be feeling better by the end of the one-hour session. There’s nothing like focusing positively on others to help raise your own life-condition.

Mystically (Buddhism is a spiritual practice, after all) one of the young men present unwittingly gave me personal guidance while sharing his perspective on what we all discussed together. He gave me clarity that the important thing in my work situation, and indeed in any situation, is to use it to move my life forward.

Later that night I watched a Marisa Peer vid about how to stay young. One of the points was to do new things in order to develop new neural pathways. I thought, “Oh! So all this new technology I’ve been complaining about is actually beneficial for me! I ought to be grateful instead of complaining!”

Stinking thinking over? Nope!

My bathroom mirror messages: I like myself and I am enough.

Next morning I was fine, until, towards the end of my chanting, negative and fearful thoughts slunk back into my mind. I felt resentful and antagonistic. I hated the new corporate culture. I would quit if one more change happened that I disliked!

Fortunately for me, positivity is stronger than negativity, and at some point in the morning my repeated thinking of “I am enough” caused an inner shift. I stopped freaking out about the relentless number of unopened emails and unreturned voicemail messages in my inbox. At lunchtime in the kitchen I voiced to my VP (calmly this time) my fear of losing a whopping thousand dollars in commission on a potential sale I’ve been nursing along for eight months, due to the new corporate pay structure. He went to check into it for me and came back to tell me quietly, “You’re wrong. You still get 10% commission.”

There’s nothing like focusing positively on others to help raise your own life-condition.

By the afternoon I felt like a completely different, happy, optimistic person. I was singing while I started to pack for the upcoming relocation!

At night, I attended a neighbourhood Buddhist discussion meeting I normally don’t go to; I wanted to bring someone I know there who just moved into the area, so she’d feel more comfortable. Once again the message that was emphasized during one person’s contribution to the meeting was: “Forward!”

The wonderfully courageous Winston Churchill declared: “If you’re going through hell, keep going!”

Stepping out of your old, familiar way of seeing yourself and your life isn’t easy in the beginning. It feels uncomfortable, weird and risky. The I-Ching (the ancient Chinese Book of Changes) speaks of the pain and discomfort a tender young plant has to go through in spring in order to break through the crust of earth above it that has been left by the winter.

But when it persists in growing, it becomes stronger, flourishes, and fulfills its destiny for all the world to see and enjoy.

We are no different.