It was impressive. The result of nearly three decades of work. Painstakingly built and meticulously decorated. I designed it with the upmost care. I used to sit and reflect on it for hours, immersed in the intricacy of the arrangement. Surrounded by stories, characters, and settings of my own imagination.
But it was private of course. No other souls allowed in, not even my husband. Especially not my husband. If he ever saw what I’d been collecting for so many years, he’d know the real me. The real, messed up, insecure, terrified, little girl that I was.
You see, this lifelong masterpiece was my prison cell. A contrived composition of false assumptions, misguided beliefs, and fears.
Every negative or uncomfortable situation I’d ever experienced was archived within the walls of my cell. Rejection, hurt, blame, shame, guilt, all of them documented there as bricks. Through the years, these bricks stacked upon each other until they created a barricade between me and every other person. The stories I created from my experiences covered the walls and served as rules to live by in the future.
“If you reveal something you’re struggling with, people will ridicule you.”
“If you make a mistake, you’re worthless.”
“If you ask too many questions, you’re nosy.”
“If you believe in yourself, you’re arrogant.”
“If you are interested in things different than those around you, they’ll ostracize you.”
“If you weigh too much, you’re ugly.”
“If you show that you care about something, others will question it.”
“If you question the status quo, you’re an idiot.”
“If you talk too much, you’re annoying.”
“If you talk too little, you’re a bitch.”
These are just a few of the many “truths” I lived by. Most of them based on entirely fabricated stories I made up because I didn’t know any other way. These thoughts were drilled into my mind day after day for 26 years.
Until I met a woman who opened my eyes to reality. To the truth. It was so simple, yet so abstractly difficult to grasp.
WHAT YOU FOCUS ON EXPANDS.
And the even better part…I get to CHOOSE what I focus on. I don’t have to believe that I am unworthy. That the foolish words of children and teenagers define me in any way. Only one defines me. The One. And He created me in utter beauty and grace, with incomprehensible love. He gifted me with unique talents and abilities. Which, up to that point, I’d been depriving the world around me of those contributions.
We can’t control what other people think, say, or do. We can only control our reactions to these things. We choose to act in either fear or love. Fear is how we end up in a prison cell full of lies. Love asks us to connect. To reach out. To seek the truth. Not to assume we know. I am forever grateful to the woman who gave me my life. She taught me to look at each situation from a third point of view. Rather than jumping to the conclusion that every negative thing that happened to me was because I was worthless, I should dig deeper, or leave it alone, depending on the situation.
Through this practice, I learned that so many of the instances where I thought someone was upset with me, doubting me, or judging me, in actuality, had nothing to do with me at all. I found freedom! No longer did I have to spend hours analyzing. I no longer had to ruminate on the past or worry about the future. She taught me to live in this moment. That’s all we have.
We all live in our own heads. The opportunity to break free is available to you at any time. You simply must choose it. Choose to assume the best. Choose to be grateful, even in difficult times. Choose love over hate and faith over fear.
Now I ask you the same thing my mentor asked me…
Who would you be without your stories?
I’m certainly not negating the importance of our life experiences. I firmly believe God uses painful situations as the fertilizer for new growth. But it requires us to submit to the process. To open our hearts to His higher calling. Otherwise we find ourselves enslaved to these lies while they go about sucking the life from our precious hearts.
For more information about the woman who helped me completely transform my life go to www.onenessoflife.com