Everyone has a “past”. Some of us have had “bad childhoods”, many of us have had bad relationships. Whatever you’ve had to overcome, be it holes in how you parented, trauma, illness… Overcoming adversity can serve you. We all have stories in our heads, narratives we tell ourselves about our lives and the things that have happened to us. It matters how you tell that story to yourself and others. How you think determines how you feel. Thinking about what’s happened and adding “and it was TERRIBLE” makes it -truly- terrible for you. You can be the victim of your story or the hero. The truth is in how the story is told. I remember a teenager I worked with who was struggling with cancer and the isolation of a bone-marrow-transplant. She survived, but she was not the same person when she finished treatment. She talked with me about how she loved the same things she always loved (music, fashion, boys) but how precious she felt every good moment was. Her relationship with her mom became richer and deeper – and she said that -although she wished she hadn’t been so sick- that she wouldn’t want to go back to how things were before. In my own experience, I’ve had to cope with my own illness and chronic pain; the difficulties of parenting a child with multiple special needs; the consequences of poor choices in relationships… While my life might have been easier in some ways, the hard experiences have been important; they made me more sensitive and compassionate to what others may be suffering, and mistakes have kept me humble. Lack of arrogance serves me well. Living through and with difficulties has also reinforced the necessity of resilience. When bad things happen, you can choose how to respond: with tears, laughter, self-loathing, forgiveness, tolerance, grace… It is a choice. Painful experiences are inevitable in life. If you look hard enough, you can see how these experiences have shaped you for the better. Make that part of your “story”!
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