Part of my journey of late has been going back mentally and having very healing, emotional visits with my younger self. Now to some of you, that might sound a bit schizophrenic, but let me explain before we starting pulling out those pretty white coats! (P.S. If I must wear one, I want it to sparkle!)
How We Store Memories
I had an experience not that long ago that was quite interesting and very telling in terms of how we store memories. I was traveling through Ohio for work and decided to visit one of my childhood homes. I had lived in this house from the time I was 5 to 10-years-old. In my mind’s eye, I could so clearly see this home, even though I had not laid eyes on it since we departed in 1975. I’m a very visual and detailed person, so there were many specifics that dominated my memories. When I pulled up in front of the house, some 40 years later, I was absolutely dumbfounded. It was NOTHING like I had remembered. The color was different, the elevation wasn’t even close to what I recalled, and even the surrounding neighborhood seemed foreign. It was a very strange feeling. I think I was expecting that warmth of seeing something familiar, or perhaps some type of sense of belonging to come flooding back, but there was nothing but perplexity.
I parked on the street out front, got out of my car and walked into the driveway to take some pictures, to later share with my family. The woman who now owned the home was nervously watching me, peeking from the inside curtains, so I though it wise to explain! When she answered the door, I introduced myself and explained my father built this house and I lived in it as a child. As soon as I finished my sentence, she hugged me and invited me in for margaritas and a tour, which caught me slightly off guard! It was interesting how quickly the demeanor changed. I graciously turned down the margaritas (I still had a lot of driving to do that night), but gladly accepted the tour, as my curiosity was now stronger than ever, since the outside carried no familiarity.
She went on to explain the same neighbors from 40 years ago still lived next door and she had heard much about our family over the years, which I believe paved the way for my invitation inside. As we walked through the house, there were definitely many memories that resurfaced, but they were so very different in scale. You see, my childlike perspective at that time greatly influenced what I saw, and how I then stored those memories. Because I was a small child, everything seemed so much bigger and more imposing than it really was. I imagine it’s much like the ant thinking the grasshopper is enormous, when to me the grasshopper still a tiny bug! Seeing everything again from an adult perspective made the aggregate appear surprisingly small, in comparison to my recollection.
Things Are Rarely As We Remember Them
The experience taught me an incredibly important lesson. Things are rarely as we remember them. Our memories are always stored from the perspective in which we viewed them at the time. Often those perspectives are highly skewed. As we all know, perspectives change greatly from day-to-day, not to mention over the years. This fueled a desire to revisit some of my other past memories, and really begin challenging whether or not the perspectives they were viewed from were correct. I quickly found there was a vast sea of distortions, all of which would benefit from some revisiting and reframing. And so my journey began, visiting with the younger me and beginning to show some love where only harshness had existed prior.
Dissecting And Correctly Reframing Our History
This has been such an enormous part of my growth over the last few years, and something I highly suggest others consider in terms of emotional healing and expansion from the past. One by one, as things are called to my remembrance now, I’m now dissecting and correctly reframing my history. Don’t get me wrong… my experiences are just that, and the physical facts of what has happened in a life can never change or be altered. Yet, reprocessing many of those experiences from the new perspective of an observer, now viewing things through an incredibly different lens, changes everything. It lends more understanding to how and why things unfolded as they did. It allows me to step back and see the whole picture, rather than only the parts that so significantly influenced me at the time. Even better, it allows me to reconsider what exactly those situations translated to, in terms of what they mean about me. It has clearly allowed me to see that so many of the circumstances that were taken so personally, that so greatly impacted and led to the forming of false beliefs about myself, more often than not had little or nothing to actually do with me.
Reframing Allows Us To Consider Different Outcomes
I did some work with a good friend recently, who had been struggling with some emotional issues she just couldn’t seem to get past. There had been some very damaging abuse in her childhood, that up until this point she really couldn’t even bring herself to talk about, as the painful reminders were so emotionally overwhelming, she would just shut down. The amount of emotional pain, shame, self-doubt, unworthiness, and other self-debasing beliefs that had come from her perspective as a child in these encounters were all-encompassing and were weaving their way into so many areas of her life. She had encountered abuse at the hands of family members, and although the parents were aware, were doing nothing to protect her from further encounters. There were countless damaging beliefs, though falsely rooted, that originated from these experiences. The inner voices spent decades reinforcing the beliefs that if she had been loveable, someone would have protected her. If she had been worthy, no one would have allowed those things to continue… and the list goes on. Reframing these events allowed her to revisit the situation and consider different outcomes. What would she have needed to feel safe, supported, loved, and valued in that situation? If the parents had rushed in, attacked the assailant, snatched her in their arms and rushed her out to safety, what would have changed in terms of her beliefs about herself? We went through a rather lengthy process of reframing that entire trauma, and what happened on the other side was nothing short of amazing. As I’ve said many times already in this post, it did not take away the fact that these experiences happened. However, reframing allowed her to imagine an outcome where she was fully loved and supported. Through that process, she recognized that what happened to her was about the depravity of those violating her, but had nothing to do with her intrinsic value or lovability. Reframing was a life-changer for her. Though the abuse cannot be changed, how she chooses to look at it has dramatically transformed the emotions she now feels, both about the encounter and herself as a whole. She can now even talk about it with no emotional triggering whatsoever and feels as though she has taken her power back. That’s huge!
Getting To The Core Of The Beliefs
There are so many today imprisoned by their past. It doesn’t have to be something traumatic or highly disturbing to impact us and our behaviors in profound and significant ways. It’s often the subtle messages we collect from our environment and circumstances that we personalize and inaccurately apply to our value, worth, and lovability. Those beliefs, often firmly rooted, then run silently below the radar, yet are continually being applied to every aspect of our lives and interactions with others on a daily basis. We find ourselves questioning why we keep sabotaging opportunities before us, why we keep engaging in highly toxic relationships over and over, and gravitating to things that in the end, are far from being in our best interest, yet we seldom take the time necessary to dissect why. Getting to the core of the beliefs we hold about ourselves, understanding how they were constructed, and determining if they are actually truth, is a necessary part of finding our authentic selves and our worth. Once those truths have been identified and falsehoods released, a whole new way of life emerges with a healthy perspective and tremendous possibilities. I can tell you the healthy changes this work has brought about, both in my personal life and with the clients I serve, has left me vastly different from the woman I was even 3 years ago. My promise to myself now is that anytime something uncomfortable comes up, it’s my responsibility to investigate it diligently and fully until I can understand, release, and heal from whatever was creating that discomfort. It’s like writing love letters to my younger self, helping to explain from a new adult perspective, those things that I so greatly misunderstood prior. Those journeys are not always pleasant at the time, but without fail they result in extensive growth, increased self understanding and expression, and in the end… a much happier, healthier life. The next time you find yourself questioning your value, discounting yourself, or behaving in a way that’s contrary to unconditional self-love, I encourage you to dig up those roots and consider some reframing. The transformations that come as a result are beyond belief!
Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby