My life changed in 1990 when a relationship I was in fell apart like a castle made of sand. Parents had been met and plans made for the future, even though we had only been together less than four months. Perhaps you can relate to the feelings of devastation, shock, and loss that accompany the sudden end of something into which much emotion has been invested. It brought me to my knees.
At the time, I told myself “This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me; this is the worst pain I’ve ever experienced.” My disappointment and resentment consumed me, and at times, my anger bordered on hatred. For a while this was my story, and I would tell it to anyone who cared to hear: “I’ve been terribly, terribly wronged.”
This upheaval caused me to look deep inside of me to find out why I was so affected by this short but volatile relationship. What I saw was that there were wounded parts of me that needed healing. I began reading, journaling and working hard to build my self value and self esteem. I came to realize that I would never have a healthy relationship until I had one with myself. Within a few short years, I had developed a new level of self respect and self acceptance. I started to tell a new story about what happened.
Today, 20 years later, I consider that experience to be the greatest gift ever given to me, next to my wife and kids. In spite of a strong desire to hold on to my anger and resentment (…anybody else ever felt that way?…), I couldn’t ignore the fact that my pain had been a catalyst to begin my own personal journey of self transformation, and for that, I am immensely grateful. I choose to tell this story now, and the telling of it empowers me.
What’s your story? Do you have a same old story you tell all the time, to yourself and others? What’s that story doing for you? Is it moving you forward or keeping you stuck? The good news is that you can change that story and choose to tell a new one anytime you want to.
There are always two parts to anything that occurs to you in life. There’s what happened, and then there’s your story of what happened. The problem is, it’s really easy to get the two confused. We can come to believe that our story about what happened is what happened, and that becomes our reality. Then we start making decisions based on a story that for the most part, we made up.
Much of my work with my hypnotherapy clients involves helping them identify stories they are telling themselves that are disempowering and downright scary. In other words, keeping these stories alive robs a person of confidence, self esteem and aliveness, while perpetuating fear, doubt and unhappiness. The first question I ask of them is: “Ok, something happened to you, but what are you making that mean, and what is that doing for you?”
That fact is, that as humans we are meaning making machines. We will make up stories about what happens to us, we can’t help it. That’s what gives each life it’s unique flavor. What that flavor tastes like will depend on the meaning that you assign to what happens to you. “My business failed, that means I’m a failure” has a pretty bitter taste. On the other hand “Because my business failed I learned something that will help me succeed next time” is a little more palatable, as well as being infinitely more useful.
I recently saw the film Invictus. It’s about Nelson Mandela’s attempts as president of South Africa to unite a country divided by years of apartheid. After 27 year of imprisonment by the South African government, one might expect that Mandela would want to exact revenge on those that imprisoned him. But instead, the story he told himself during his imprisonment is reflected in the poem “Invictus”, which he shares with the captain of the South African rugby team (played by Matt Damon):
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
As is widely known, Mandela won international respect for his advocacy of national and international reconciliation and in 1993 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, shared with Frederik Willem de Klerk.
Our reality is self-created through the meanings and interpretations we attach to the situations and circumstances of our lives, that is, what we think about them. I don’t know how much control we have over things that happen to us, but we have full control over what we think.
Want a better experience of life? Choose to think differently, come up with a better meaning, and tell a new story to yourself and others that is inspiring, and filled with courage and hope. You have that choice, so why not choose it? After all, it’s all made up anyway.
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Dedicated to helping you move to your next level of greatness,
p.s. Having trouble coming up with a new story? I can help you. Call me before Saturday, September 2nd and I’ll give you $35 off my regular session price. (South Pasadena location only)Ted A. Moreno Personal/Small Business Coach Certified Hypnotherapist www.TedMoreno.com (626) 826-0612 Photo by Skye Moorhead www.skyemoorhead.com