Image taken from: http://www.viralpawz.com
Rebecca is a 46 year old woman who works in a senior management role in a local hospital. She is in a loving relationship with a man, Christopher, who she has been seeing for 4 years. She has hobbies, and a great social life including amazing friends. She has a rich full life, is happy and content except for one thing. She has a secret…she is scared that Justin, the lovely man she is with will leave her. Why? Because she doesn’t ‘trust men’.
You see Rebecca was married once before. He was a doctor in the hospital she was working in. Ben was good-looking, charming, he was intelligent and he worked hard. They met at work and it seemed to be love at first sight. They dated for 3 years before getting married and then the cracks started to show.
Ben became distant, cruel even as he now seemed to ignore Rebecca at when he encountered her at work. He also started to refuse to talk to her at home and spent more time out of the house with friends. She later found out that Ben had been having a series of one night stands, but on top of this, she discovered that he had been seeing a colleague from work. Someone she thought she was quite close to. She was devastated.
She had never felt more alone…confused…betrayed…taken for a fool; people had told her including her family that he didn’t seem ‘trust-worthy’, and now here was the evidence. He was now shacked up with Sarah, as she lay there alone in their marital bed crying away the nights thinking her life was over.
Talk to Rebecca now about her current partner Chris, and ask her how she feels about their relationship and she will tell you…’yes, it’s great…he’s lovely’. But her body language and what she is saying don’t match. As she speaks her brow furrows. She frowns and her eyes become small and focussed. She then starts to look down and pick at the skin on her hands, which might lead you to ask ‘what’s wrong?’. After all, if this is someone who is claiming to be ‘happy’ then they don’t seem it!
It’s then, with a little probing that Rebecca starts to speak a little more. She will tell you how she doesn’t really trust anyone. Maybe if she’s feeling really relaxed and she is in the company of friends who knew her when she was with Ben, or maybe she’s had a glass of wine or two, she will start to say more and even more about how hurt she feels about what happened to her. How she doesn’t forgive Ben for what he did, and never will. How she was a great partner and he treated her terribly. How he wasted her life and broke her heart, and how difficult she finds it to really, really truly trust again and feel fully, and completely loved by someone.
The story you are sticking to…
So, here’s the thing. How is this story ‘serving’ Rebecca? It’s a story I encounter all the time in my work, just change the theme or the characters involved. Maybe it’s a cheating husband, maybe it’s a parent who wasn’t there for you growing up? Maybe it’s the teacher that picked on you or told you, you were stupid? Regardless of the characters or plot-line the underlying premise is the same…
…our experiences, good or bad only define us if we give them permission to!
After all, YOU get to write your story. YOU get to say if someone can continue to hurt you even after their physical presence or pain is long gone. YOU get to say whether you buy into the things that people external to you want you to believe like ‘you’re not good enough’.
So, with compassion and a place of acceptance I like to ask people the most challenging of all questions…
‘what do you get from keeping your story in existence?’
After all, we human-beings are not stupid. If we out put hand on a fire and it burns, we take it away. Why then would we keep beliefs and thoughts in our life that do nothing to serve us, but in fact do the opposite and push us further from what we say we want?
The answer is personal to each of us.
For Rebecca, by keeping her story that all men couldn’t be trusted as part of her belief system, she got to ‘be right’ to the people that knew her. She got to be guarded about future experiences. She got to be nurtured by people who felt sorry for her, including her current partner, and especially in arguments when she could say to him that ‘he didn’t understand’.
She ultimately gets to not be vulnerable or take responsibility for what happens now and in her future.
I understand that this can be a really, really challenging way of looking at our lives, but I can tell you that in my experience when you start to look at your life with the eyes of someone who is fully in acknowledgment of what they really want, and also by taking full responsibility for your ‘story’, then there will be things that you will want to re-write when you realise that ultimately you are the author of your own destiny.
We cannot change what has happened in our past, but we can write our futures!
So, I ask you to take a look at some of the stories you might be holding on to. What could you let of, what do realise isn’t actually ‘serving’ you and what stories need the biggest edit so that you can change the look of your life and ultimately your future.
Till next week!