An extraordinary thing happened to me last Sunday morning. A man came up to me on the street, near where I live, and said ‘Are you Marianne?’.
I said ‘yes’ and did that thing where you flip through the rolodex in your brain trying to think of how I knew him. Turns out I didn’t.
‘You don’t know me but I read your blog,’ he said.
I was stunned. Totally stunned. A total stranger on the street coming up to me because he’d read my blog. BLOODY HELL.
He explained that he’d read a piece I did on meditation in the Daily Mail years ago and has been following my stuff since. ‘I promise, I’m not a stalker!’ he said.
He didn’t seem like a stalker – but I couldn’t have cared less if he was one – I was just so blown away by the fact that a real life stranger came up to me on the street because he’d been reading my blog.
I stood grinning at him. He grinned back. There was a second of silence.
‘This is weird,’ he said. ‘Because I feel like I know everything about you…’
Me: ‘Well, you do!’
And he really did. He knew all about the Greek, about dating month (he told me it wasn’t cool the way I wrote about the guys, I agreed…), about money month…
He asked if Tony Robbins was life changing and I said, ‘Yes it was great, but you know… I’m still me… I’m still sh*t with money, I still worry, I’m not FIXED!’
He looked me straight in the eye and said: ‘You’ve got to stop doing that; you’ve got to stop being so down on yourself all the time.’
He then proceeded to give me some very valuable feedback.
‘I think I’m happier than you but I keep reading your blog because I learn something from it. It makes me think. When you’re talking about things, like going up to that guy in the coffee shop I could relate to that. I like you because you’re honest and I can relate to you more than Tony Robbins.
‘But I don’t want to read this blog six months from now and read about you thinking the same bad things about yourself. What would be the point in me reading it? Or anyone reading it? What would be the point in your doing everything you’ve done?’
He asked if I thought self-help had helped me at all and I said, ‘Yes, I feel utterly changed’.
‘That doesn’t come across’ he said.
The truth is I do feel utterly different to a year ago. The way I see the world is different. The way I see others. The way I see myself. I am less judgemental, less scared, more open – and believe it or not, a lot less hard on myself than I used to be.
The fact that I only pinged my rubber band six times yesterday (I’m pinging every time I have a negative thought) is almost miraculous by my standards! More and more I wake up with a feeling of happiness rather than dread. I no longer go into every situation thinking ‘What could and will go wrong here?’
That I don’t spend more time acknowledging is very telling.
I think there are two reasons why:
1) I have this fear of being smug or annoying or arrogant, so I always play on the negative. I think that if I say something positive about myself, somebody is going to put me down or take the p*ss – and so I put myself down first. I focus on where I’ve messed up, I write about the bad days… I think this is a very Irish/English thing. We like lights to be hidden under bushels.
2) But on a deeper level, I really have realised that I’m quite wedded to the ‘Poor Me, I’m Crap, Victim’ stuff. Tony Robbins says that most of us are ‘addicted to our problems’. Ain’t that the truth? I have built a whole identity around mine. So while I’m doing all this crazy stuff to improve myself, a part of me is still clinging to my old identify, my old stories.
To let go of those would feel like letting go of me.
But really and truly it’s time to let go of that old me.
Tony reckons that we only make changes for two reasons.
Either we’re in so much pain we have to make the change or the reward for making the change is too great to ignore. I started all this because I was so unhappy I couldn’t carry on the way I was – drastic action was needed.
And it worked. I’m not miserable. But I want more than ‘not being miserable’. I want to focus on the reward of how much better things could be if I really stepped things up…
Which brings me to MY FINAL BOOK – You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay – which is all about LOVING YOURSELF. Hay says that until we truly, truly love ourselves, we will always feel stuck. That we’ll take one step forward and two steps back.
Hay is big into affirmations, including actually looking in the mirror and telling yourself ‘I love and accept myself…’ Cringe. So yes, I’m going full circle to affirmations, which some of you might remember I did in my first ever Feel the Fear month. Worryingly, I’m looking forward to it.
I’m just going to be doing two weeks of posts on Louise Hay because then, on the 6th May, I’ve booked to do a 10 day silent meditation retreat called Vipassana.
It sounds like a torture and I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to do it but I want to try. I think it’ll be a good opportunity to process all that’s happened over the last year and a bit – a time to get a bit of distance.
After that I’ll be going away to write MY AWARD WINNING BESTSELLING BOOK. It’s due with the Brazilian publisher on 31st July, and then I’ll have a full finished book to tout around to UK publishers and if I don’t get offered the right deal then I’ll self-publish. So an English language book will exist at some point for you ALL to read and buy for EVERYBODY YOU KNOW!
As for the blog, I won’t be updating it quite so much while I’m writing the book but it’s not going anywhere. I have some ideas but I want it to keep going and growing and for you all to play a part in that, if you’d like – but I’ll talk more about that another time.
For now, as ever, thank you very much for reading and encouraging and even caring about my crazy mission. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to write to me and thank you especially to the man who came up to me on Sunday. I won’t say his name because I got the impression that he’s a private person – but if you are reading, thank you. You really made me think.