Sending off all my pet hates, sealing up my worries, discarding my concerns takes great discipline.  You would think I could just get on and do it – hop out of the cage and be done with all this negativity stuff, but it doesn’t seem to work like that.

Bad news and habitual difficulties have a habit of clinging on, a bit like the smell of mouldy old clothes – and there is a prize there for anyone who can spot the pun. Actually, this is one of my favourites, sent to me in a dream many years ago. I need to get rid of my bad habits, my old hang-ups. It would be good if I could just discard them for ever. Or box and send them off to the sorting office in the sky. Slap on a stamp and send them away, so that they cannot contaminate, and maybe so that someone else might fix them.

Old messages are part of an old record, with deep grooves, so it takes a while to notice how deeply buried are the old, tired repeats: “I can’t manage…I have to do everything alone….” Out-of-date litanies these may be, but still, they spool round, and on bad days, in tense times, can spill out and threaten to soil the new growth.

Maybe that thought of ‘trying to quit’ doesn’t work so well, because the universe prefers positive formulae. How about, “I am consistently fortunate. Good fortune is all around me, all the time.” I find myself warming more easily to positive words. I find them easier to wrap around me like a cosy blanket. It feels more welcome to embrace the good news than shun the bad: when we try to shun the bad, we have to remember what the bad is, which defeats the purpose of trying to shun it. I think I will stick with the positive stuff. Much easier to work with, and eventually, the hope is that the good news will smooth over the old stuff and allow the positive to flow more easily.

‘Living mindfully’ is a phrase I used to hear a lot. I think it means, remembering not to slip, to go back to the old, deep tracks that are so easy to tumble into. Patterns of defeatism, failure and self-hatred are seductive often because they have been our companions for such a long time and their voices are familiar: which is why discipline is so useful. The refusal to go back there, to slip away un-noticed into the strange comforts of familiar brutalities must be a conscious decision. That conscious choice takes determination and a lot of patience. But the first step, as always, is to decide.

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