Proof of Life | Journal Entry No. 14

Welcome to the Proof of Life journal entry series.

Writing more in general, and specifically with you, is something I hope to continue.

Like many of you, life has become clearer over the past few years and there are many things I have dropped along the way that I deeply desire to pick back up. In turn, there are things I never want to pick up again.

From the very beginning, I have always felt like we are on this journey together and I can’t wait to hear what proof of life will come to mean to you.




Lately, it seems that I have had one person after another come looking for console, advice, prayer, or just a listening ear when it comes to relationships. About a week ago I started writing this post and with each day that passed this advice has proven to be so useful to others and myself.

Have you ever read something on social media, overheard someone talking, or maybe even had something directly said to you and it caught you off guard or made you question another person’s heart for you? Maybe you have had a misunderstanding, you were accused of something or possibly even an end to a relationship? I am sure we could all raise our hand to one if not all of these at some point in our life.

We were visiting with friends in Nashville a few months ago and we were talking about some of the above and I started to share one of the biggest truths that I have learned lately. I shared it for her (based on a current hurt happening) but also to be reminded for my own journey. The Lord has made me to feel and see in ways that make me aware of a lot. There are a million benefits to this but I also know that it has me very aware of words, games, dynamics, manipulation, and motives. These last things can keep me in my head and can cause me to overanalyze a situation. Let’s be honest…to make stories up in my head. It also means I need to be very wise and take time to process my feelings.

I want to share two huge insights that I have started to implement in my life over the past year or so that have stopped me from explaining, justifying, or convincing, but also to let things go, forgive and move on.

I found that when something was spoken to me negatively I would feel the need to explain, convince, justify etc. and later I would regret that I had engaged when often no response from me was needed. Like I said, I am in my head a lot so this causes me to go over and over the details. I decided that I was not going to do that again and instead I would answer with, “Does that sound like me”? It is either going to or not. The last time someone shared something with me that someone else had said I responded with, “Does that sound like me”? and the person paused and said not at all. They went on to say that everything they were told actually went against everything they knew about me. The end. I asked a question and then let the other person make that decision. I didn’t have to try to convince someone of something about myself.

This insight doesn’t stop with me though. There will be times when, how I see and feel the world, that I can overanalyze and come up with thoughts that may not be trustworthy (once again…making stories up in my head).  That is when I ask myself, “Does that sound like THEM”? What do I know to be true about THEM? Does their previous behavior align with what I am interpreting right now? There are times when my discernment is right on and I acknowledge that this behavior that I am reading into is correct. So often though, me asking myself that question about someone else gives them instant grace and I am able to acknowledge that my current thoughts or interpretation etc. actually do not align up the previous actions/behaviors of that person.

“Does that sound like me”? and “Does that sound like them”? means we can all walk around in this world believing the best in others instead of the worst. That misunderstandings end almost as quickly as they begin and that others are not allowed to gossip and spread false tales because we won’t let them (or allow ourselves). With texts, social media, emails, and so much coming at us it can be easy to look into the behaviors of others instead of trusting what we know to be true. And if what you know to be true is not trustworthy then that is a whole other post; but I think you get my point.

I think this is a game changer and if we are honest, the world needs more relationship game changer moments.


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    1. Jerseyridgearts

      Ahhh, we call that kind of thinking ‘jack stories’. Your two questions are perfect…nips it in the bud

  1. Cheryl Ruest

    This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing this great wisdom -simple but powerful!!! ♥️

  2. Dianne Winters

    Oh how I need this right now. I’m ending a long friendship that has changed direction and unfortunately it does sound like her. I pray every day for the Lord to help me with those stories in my head and to stop overanalyzing. My hubby had an interesting thought on this; “Do you think that like a marriage, the longer you know someone, the better you understand who they really are , like peeling back the layers?” Yes and yes!! And it is hard to let go, of the thoughts, the hurt, etc..

  3. Desiree Young

    This is a brilliant insight, and exactly what i needed to hear in this moment. Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. BJ Lantz

    Perfect timing for me to read this. I have been trying to learn how not to ruminate (tell myself stories) — something I’ve done all my life. I now often ask myself, “Is this helpful? Do I know this to be true?” And it usually stops those thoughts in their tracks. But I really like your suggestion — “Does that sound like me /them?” I will add it to my inner dialog arsenal 🙂

  5. Michele Dickson

    I found that the the more I defensive I got, the worse I felt. So, now I keep reminding myself that I am a wonderful person and that I’m actually different than anyone else, and that I’m unique, as we all are, and people’s opinions of me are THEIR opinions. They aren’t necessarily based in fact. Then, and only then, can I flourish and grow as a person. Thank you Jeanne!

  6. Glenda Friesen

    Wow, this has so many applications. As a very non traditional pastors wife I’m the recipient of many view points. As a leader in the corporate sector, well, it’s there too. And living in my head for most things, I sure need to challenge my scripts . Guessing I’ll have a chance to practice this very soon. Thank you Jeanne.

  7. Andrea Garvey

    Wow. Amazing insight. I love these questions, such truth. I can’t wait to try this! xo

  8. Susan

    totally agree!

    gossip is the worst! My grandfather told me, believe none of what you hear and half of what you read. The point- verify, verify, verify

    that’s one reason why I don’t follow Hollywood,

    that’s not to say I have been perfect, but I try to stop and think and verify

  9. Lynda Mills

    I love serendipity, I was just just journaling about this subject this morning asking for more love and light in a situation. Just ask the question.

  10. K T

    Good reminders to not be reactive to something that is not life affirming! Keep shining the light!

  11. Elisha

    1 Cor 13:7 love , bears all things , believes all things …

    I was just listening to a pastor talk about how love believes the best .. gives the person the benefit of the doubt.

    Thanks for the reminder and insight. I love that question too.

  12. Joey Heiberg

    Jeanne, first I want to say how much happiness your web-site has given me over the years, thank you. Second, LOVE this article!

    I have been a licensed artist for over 23 years now and maybe it is part of having an artist brain. We have a tendency to think ALL-OF-THE-TIME. I am a big fan of thinking..until it goes into overdrive. It’s a constant battle so I started writing my stories down which eventually became a book about being an artist and the everyday struggles we have and one of the stories I found while I was researching why we do what we do was called “The Tale of the Two Wolves”.
    An old man told his grandson, “My son, there is an endless battle that goes on inside all of us. It is between two wolves. One wolf is bad—he is anger, envy, regret, greed, arrogance, resentment, lies, superiority, and ego. The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.” The grandson thought about it and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old man answered, “The one you feed.”

  13. Ingrid Cyros

    This dovetails Jeanne’s thoughtful and powerful journal entry. Thanks to both of you. I read both as a Lectio Divina, and the two sentences that shimmered were: “Does that sound like them?” and “Which wolf will win?…The one you feed.” Thanks for lending your insights. I will put them into practice.

  14. Cindy Wahlstrom

    Thank you for sharing this journal entry. Does that sound like me? Does that sound like them? Great questions to ask ourselves as we learn, and grow, and walk our path.

  15. Renee

    Your thoughts have sparked something in my heart. Too often, words and intentions get confused or misconstrued, and I spend way too much time thinking about the situation and, more than likely, feeling bad about it. I love your two insightful questions and will start incorporating them into my life. Thank you!

    1. Jeanne Oliver Author

      I read something the other day that made me laugh out loud. It said I don’t need you to hurt my feelings, I have already gone over the situation so many times I have hurt my own feelings. I am the same as you. Too much time in my head.

  16. Vanessa

    I love this way of thinking! I always try to think the best of people instead of going straight to the worst and this is a great way to check yourself before letting negative thoughts take over. We are all human living in a broken world carrying around baggage most of the time. We all need each other and a lot of grace.

  17. coleen

    i try to connect to my soul purpose…..your article really helped me! love the questions you pose! Feeling like i do not “fit in” at times can be overwhelming!

    1. Jeanne Oliver Author

      I think everyone can have those moments. You do fit in! Maybe you haven’t found the right fit yet! Don’t give up! Beautiful people are out there.

  18. Meredith Garner

    So profound – these two questions – and I have never distilled them so clearly as you have. Thank you for sharing them with all of us. I had a situation a few weeks ago where “Does that sound like me?” would have been the proper reply to a long-term, close friend who (over a most recent misunderstanding) texted off accusations and nastiness to me once again. Though, in asking myself “Does that sound like them?” – to assume I have bad motives and to mistreat me – is yes. So helpful in discerning both ways. Sometimes, all of the eggshell walking in the world can’t save me – from a friend who causes me far too much anxiety, can so easily assume I have bad intentions, and will intentionally try to inflict pain. I no longer have any other close friends who would treat me this way. For my own mental and physical health, I clearly and respectfully communicated all of this to her (though without your helpful questions), and I am now choosing to love her from a safe distance. Thank you for sharing all of this, and thank your love, wisdom, faith, and discernment. We love and cherish you, Jeanne.

    1. Jeanne Oliver Author

      Meridith, I am so sorry you have been going through this! We have all been there at some point with someone. You are one of the most genuine, kind and giving women I know. You should feel safe within your friend group. In the midst of all of this remember who you truly are and what everyone else (except this ONE person) thinks of you! Be free.

  19. Ann B

    This is such a great insight. Definitely something I needed to read. It’s easy to get into our own heads and allow the cycle of hurt to spin. I will be putting these questions at the forefront of my thoughts. Thank you for sharing

  20. Pam

    I LOVE the photo! It really makes my heart happy. Your words are exactly what I needed to hear today. I do the same thing. My instant response is to start explaining. I love these 2 very simple questions that I believe will bring BIG results for me. Thank you, Jeanne, for once again pouring into my life.

  21. Bethwyn

    Good morning, how poignant is this for me this morning. My husband and I after 33yrs together had the most terrible argument last night that ended up in a divorce situation. I haven’t slept at all. Deep down I do love him but life has got in our way, which has put up barriers which we never had. Through lack of communication, with each other, making up one’s own stories in one’s head, about situations that aren’t necessarily true, has bought our relationship to the end. My husband is always in his head before a situation arises n usually he’s so off the pace. When I’m confronted on a particular issue by him, I’m stunned to hear his comments, n then I’m having to justify my actions, to put him right. Over time I’ve realised that the best mechanism for myself, is to remain silent n walk away. That’s fine at the time, but doesn’t resolve the issue. Thank u for your insight cheers Bethwyn

  22. Jacky McFarlane

    Thank you so much Jeanne for sharing this, I am a proud 78 year old and this resonates with me. Letting go of this hurtful baggage and learning kinder responses instead of holding it inside.

  23. Jana Freeman

    Brava! This is such sage insight. I really appreciated reading this and will take those questions to heart. The essence of my being and the beingness of others… good stuff. Thank you. ❤️

  24. Janet Keto

    Thank you sharing your experience with us, Jeanne. You are becoming a wise woman! I too used to run through a negative situation over and over in my head, wasting time worrying, anxious about the next time something would happen that I wouldn’t handle perfectly. At 74, I am more aware of myself and forgiving of my missteps.
    I will remember those two Questions though, especially in regard to others.

    1. Jeanne Oliver Author

      Well, I think that we can all agree that any significant amount of time on earth is going to clarify things for us. We have choices to make each day and those choices impact so much. I think we have all wasted mental time and energy on situations and people and these two questions really were both from those experiences for me.

  25. Frances Malone

    Thank you for telling me that the constant brain chatter is a common aspect of being an artist! Thank you for your questions too! Often when I hear crazy things I tilt my head and say “humph”. I stash it away until I can verify it as true or false. Mostly I live in my head and my gut because they are the sources of a true compass for my being. Your writing is helpful and wonderful to read. Now to go back and read all the past blog posts… grateful for your sharing.

    1. Michelle Brightstar

      This is so timely Jeanne. I’ve been trying on these questions for a few months now. I’ve been on the receiving end (being gossiped about and desperately wanting them to ask themselves “but does that sound like her?” ) and I have gotten caught up in my own head when I ought to have asked “does this sound like them?” Friendships have been fractured that I had hold so dear to my heart. You are speaking to universal truths here in that you’re addressing human behaviors we all share and the wisdom of these two questions brings such clarity. They short circuit an old and deep pattern most all humans have. We are now living in a time rich and ripe for evolving human consciousness, growing our empathy and compassion, and taking more responsibility for what we are creating in our lives. Bravo for your beautiful insights, the wisdom you’re sharing, and for your vulnerability that’s so empowering to all of us who resonate. ❤️

  26. Missy

    This priceless advice and the comment re: believe none of what you hear and half of what you read, reminds me of what I’d tell Parents at Open House each year:
    “I’ll believe only half of what your children say about you, if you believe only half of what they say about me.” (different times, in jest of course).
    point being – discernment and rationale should always be factored. Being an introvert has its advantages, incl. the headspace / overthinker thing – until I loiter too long 😉

    Love the idea of asking the questions. It removes the invisible “3rd person” as the responsible party, and places the responsibility squarely where it belongs: on the person repeating / believing / thinking.

    As always, thanks for generously sharing your gifts.

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