I had a very interesting experience last Saturday morning. I was making breakfast at home for Lori and myself. Lori and I have been married for 21 years, and this was shaping up as a typical Saturday morning. A quick breakfast together, followed by an hour or two of household chores.
Lori was sitting with her laptop, at the breakfast counter, totally engrossed in working on a holiday show for the students at Alfred Adler Elementary, so the breakfast preparation was left to me. As I was making the eggs, I remembered a work email I had forgotten to send out, and was mildly annoyed with myself over this omission. I then glanced at Lori happily typing away, completely oblivious to anything else other than what she was creating.

That is when it happened. Obi Wan would call it “turning to the dark side.” Alfred Adler called it feeling “less than.” My thoughts went, “Why isn’t SHE helping out with breakfast?” “No wonder I forgot that email. I am doing more than my share,” etc, etc. Within a minute or two, I had talked myself into a very bad place. All too often, when I get myself in this state, I make a sarcastic joke, and damage the most important relation- ship in my life.

This time was different. I looked again at how happy she was to be doing exactly what she was doing in that moment. I thought about how much she gives of herself to the school, how hard she works, and her passion for giving each student a chance to be involved. Anger??? I no longer recognized the feelings of the previous few minutes.

Alfred Adler spoke of conjunctive vs disjunctive emotions. Those that pull us together, or push us apart. Rudolf Dreikurs said thought and emotions always work in tandem. Thought provides the direction, emotions provide the force of our move- ments. My thoughts, as evidenced by my self-talk, had pro- vided direction toward some strong disjunctive emotions, and subsequently, just in the nick of time I might add, some strong conjunctive emotions. Our self talk can induce disjunctive or conjunctive emotions towards ourselves as well.

So think back to the hectic times of the holidays behind us, as we were all busily rushing about trying to do all the things that needed to be done. As you move through 2012 and interact with the ones that matter the most to you – as well as your fellow man at home, at work, at the mall – remember the old adage, “guard your thoughts.”

We wish you many happy thoughts and (the natural conse- quence) conjunctive emotions.

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