Everyone has had negative experiences in life. It happens to the best of us. Maybe we made a mistake, or maybe someone did something that impacted us in a negative way. It may have been something that was an accident with really no one to blame, but it causes pain in our life in some way. Or it may have been a malicious act. Whatever happened, once we have had a negative experience, we then have a choice to make. We get to choose our response to what happened. We can respond in a way that leaves us a victim, or we can choose a response that moves our life forward in some way. Another way to say this is we can choose the story we tell ourselves (and others) about what happened. What story we tell ourselves can keep us stuck as a victim, or it can help us gain some good things from what happened and move on in life.
Here is an example. As a child I was teased a lot. I had bright red hair, lots of freckles, and this seem to draw negative attention. “Red head freckle face freak” was something I heard often on the playground. I was labeled as “stupid” and “ugly”, I felt I was at the bottom of the playground pecking order. As a result of this, I told myself a disempowering story: “I guess I’m not good enough…” “I guess no one likes me….” “I guess I am the stupidest kid in the class…” I felt handicapped, inferior, stupid and rejected. With this response to the situation, I made my situation worse. If you have watched the video on my post about basic principles, you can see that my feelings were on the dark side of the line, I was not seeing the truth about myself when I bought into their lies. A part of me knew that their labels were not correct, but another part of me gave in and just accepted their judgement as the truth. I then began making choices and performing in a way that backed up the negative labels, proving that ‘they were right’. I struggled for many years, seeing myself through a very dark lens. When I was in college I had a red-headed roommate named Jon, and he was doing very well in school. Of course I was struggling. We became good friends and on one occasion we were comparing events in our childhood where we were teased because of our red hair. Then Jon told me something profound. He said, “The difference between you and me is that when they said you were stupid you believed it. When they told me I was stupid I said “I’m going to prove you are wrong”” My response to him showed I was really blind to the truth, I said, “That’s not the difference between us. You are really smart and I’m not.” Jon was right, but I didn’t get it. It was many years before I realized that Jon had hit the nail on the head. The kids that had teased me weren’t telling me the truth about me! They were just kids on the playground, and knew nothing of my true worth, intelligence, and potential. And yet I was letting third graders define me and my potential in life. I think I was 40 years old when I finally had the liberating “ah ha!” moment.
Something negative happened to both Jon and me. He used it to improve his life, I allowed it to bring me down and hold me back. The story we tell ourselves about what happened is more important than what happened. The actual event usually only happens once or a few times, but the story we tell ourselves about what happened is repeated hundreds or thousands of times in our own minds. Can you see how that story can have a greater affect than the actual event?
If you are struggling with negative emotions in your life, whether you are feeling hopeless, anxious, overwhelmed, or whatever it is. Look at the story you are telling yourself. Going back to the light vs dark video, your story is either connecting you to light and truth and helping you move forward, or your story is connecting you to darkness and holding you back. Your emotions are the indicator. Emotions of light tell you that you moving in the right direction. If your emotions are negative, then stop yourself and examine the situation. Is there a story from your past limiting you? Is your forecast for the future paralyzing you? Have hope! Wherever you are, with God’s help you can move from darkness into light and live a joyful life! If I can be of service in any way feel free to contact me.
Here is a link to a short video that does a good job of explaining how the story we tell ourselves is more important than what happened. Take a few minutes to watch this, it could change your life!
to watch video