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Go Away to Your Happy Place

Enter three-year-old Mila’s personal space, and she may calmly look at you and say, “Go away.”

We laugh when we see her do this. Mila is normally happy, kind, and sociable, so we are surprised when she gives someone the, “Go away.” This person may be a cousin who teases her or one of her favorites. But if she is not in the mood for that person, she simply dismisses them from her presence.

Honestly, our laughter when witnessing her behavior is partly because we’d secretly love to do that. But, as grownups, we don’t feel that we can. It would be rude, and we don’t want to offend or hurt anyone’s feelings, even if that person bores or annoys us.

The more we are out in public spaces, the more often we’ll encounter people we don’t want to deal with at that time. So, if we can’t stare into their eyes and say, “Go, away,” how do we protect ourselves? How do we set boundaries when we are uninterested, exhausted, busy, or want distance from someone?

My solution is to retreat into my internal peaceful, happy place. Then, I smile while emotionally leaving the conversation. For example, I concentrate on my breathing, visualize a sunny day on the beach, recite prayers, or inhale the delicious food that is cooking. I’m anywhere but with that person.

Unfortunately, I had to do this when my husband was in an angry, unreasonable Alzheimer’s mood. He was incapable of discussing the matter that was troubling him or being open to reasoning, but, he needed to be heard, and I wanted to help him.

Listening to his angry and hurtful words was painful for me. Leaving him or arguing would only fuel the fire. I protected myself by looking at him seemingly attentively while mentally drifting to my happy place.

I’ve also been confronted with too many bullies who were verbally abusive to me. Eventually, I learned that if the encounter was brief, I could stare, say nothing, and remove myself emotionally. But if the words were spiteful, angry, or abusive, especially about someone else, I physically would “go away” without explanation.

If we do that often enough, the abuser should get the message that we won’t tune into their negative channel. We won’t allow them to bully us.

If they don’t get the message, those boundaries are permanently installed. That is when the only remedy to retaining peace and happiness is to banish the bullies.

*Photo by Mary K. Doyle

**Have you read the other posts in this Happiness Series: Happy, Pain-Free Exercise, What Makes Us Happy, and My Happy Home?

***Care for yourself. See 52 suggestions in Inspired Caregiving. Weekly Morale Builders.

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