These days we’re seeing plenty of clients who are struggling with life. Why wouldn’t they, right? There’s a pandemic going on and it seems we’re stuck in the middle of a political war between the frayed fringes of the world’s tapestry. For a one-minute read, it isn’t worth getting into the mess that plays out repeatedly in social and traditional media on our ever-present mobile devices. Suffice it to say, it’s a screwed up place - Earth - right now.
We all have our story. There are top executives who talk of growing up in poverty and physical abuse. We’ve heard from single mothers who talk of addiction in their own lives and the lives of their families. There are creators who bare their own shame at what happened to them when they got too drunk or too high as a young person. The trouble is that people hang on to their perception of what happened and they reinforce that view, telling their stories over and over either out loud or in their minds.
Neuroscience break: It’s really, really, really important to understand that what your brain repeats it becomes better at doing. If you repeatedly hit a golf ball, you’ll get better at golf. If you repeatedly sing a song, the lyrics will stick with you. What you repeat… you get. If a person is repeating the story of suffering, they’re living in the suffering and they’re making it bigger and stronger in the brain. When the anxiety of the world rises, the internal anxiety of that suffering boils over in depression, anger, addiction, and self-doubt.
So, here’s the tip: change your damn story. Your story sucks. If you must persist in telling that story of abuse, use, violence, and despair, at least put a better ending on it. Because you’re still standing. You’re still waking up every day and doing what you do - even if you’re barely doing it. All that stuff that happened to you, made you stronger, even if you don’t feel strong. What happened to you in the past doesn’t define you unless you repeat it and make it your story. It’s okay to tell the story… it’s PART of your story… but include the rest. Say, “blah, blah, blah (your story here)… and it made me stronger.” “I was blah, blah, blah… and it made me more compassionate.” “My parents were blah, blah, blah… and it made me a better dad.” “Someone blah, blah, blah’ed me… and now I (fight for others)(am a kinder person)(watch out for my friends)(am learning to love myself).”
Your story sucks and it can keep you stuck. Write a better ending because you’re a superhero when you write your own ending.
(note: please don’t misread this to suggest you should celebrate or thank your abuser… or that we are downplaying the horrible things anyone experienced. This one minute read is about what you’re on the path to becoming and what you know about yourself. The other stuff is a subject for another minute read in the future.)