Monthly Archives: October 2016

48. The Peacefulness Of Letting Go

drifting-boatOne of the most difficult things in life has been learning to release the outcome of items that are important to me and the goals I have set. I can tell you that I have released something, and in my spiritual fervor proclaim, “I’m just trusting God to handle it”, but do I really? I have struggled with continually releasing and then taking back things into my own power (or so I mistakenly thought) that just didn’t seem to be going the way I had planned. In reality, I think it’s safe to say I never really released them to begin with!  When you truly release something, it’s no longer continually on your mind as a state of concern. It no longer keeps you up at night, working out your potential options. There is true rest and freedom in something that has truly been let go of, which in turn frees us up to relax and shift our mental focus to other issues at hand. It’s the difference between leisurely floating down a beautiful river in a canoe, taking in all the sights and enjoying it with wonderful company, or being on that fishing boat in “The Perfect Storm”, as you desperately attempt to navigate your best options to keep from capsizing and perishing in an overwhelming torrent of force against you!

I find it almost humorous, if it weren’t so darn sad, to consider the state of worry I have allowed myself to function in for the majority of my life. When you really get down to it, all that energy wasted in worrying about how things would turn out never influences anything in the least, yet it deprives us of many faculties that significantly affect the quality of our lives.

Clarity of mind is difficult to achieve when one is in a state of worry. Intrusive thoughts sabotage our greatest intentions when it comes to organization, decision making, and higher level thought processes, as well as dramatically reducing our overall body’s health and vibration/frequency.  Maintaining positive thoughts becomes increasingly more difficult as our vibration continues to plummet and we find ourselves delving more and more into the deep abyss of negativity. Once this spiral begins, it can be difficult to stop and life begins turning into quite a negative, self-fulfilling prophesy, physically, emotionally, and spiritually!

Many of us go through life feeling as though we are simply pawns, or victims of our circumstances. A tell-tale sign of this mentality is continual complaining and blame! I know first-hand because this was me for far too many years! It seemed that no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, someone or something always managed to pull the rug out from underneath me. Interestingly enough, I never seemed to recognize the role I played in bringing these things to pass. There’s one thing today I know with absolute certainty… Nothing in my life happens that I have not played some role in, no matter how small! Once I recognized this fact, I began to look at things quite a bit differently.

A need for control is at the base of our inability to let go. There’s a false sense of security we maintain in believing we have the upper hand in what typically becomes self-manipulated circumstances. The truth of the matter is, we are not in TOTAL control of any aspect our own lives, let alone the lives of others, and never will be! Continually trying to be so is an exhausting process in futility. Now let me be clear, I am not saying we have no control over anything in our lives. Clearly, we do have the ability to control our responses to situations, whether or not we choose to exercise them. We have the ability to make choices to influence and train our thought processes for the better, which does most certainly play a role in changing long-term outcomes. What I am saying though, is that we are never in TOTAL control of any aspect of our lives, as outside influences are always playing a role. We have to learn to be flexible. Roll with the punches, as it were. Go with the flow!

I ran across a video a while back that impacted me immensely and beautifully illustrated this point. The speaker asked us to imagine we were in a boat and we believed everything we wanted, in terms of our desires and goals, was upstream. We had oars in the water and would paddle upstream fervently all day long, yet make little, if any, progress. At the end of each grueling day, we would get out of the water and as we walked ashore, flex our muscles and ask the onlookers, “Wow! Did you see how hard I paddled today? I almost killed myself and put in a good 10+ hours of heavy, exhausting work!” Now I find this humorous, as I can just see myself doing this not that long ago! Moaning and complaining, as well as seeking attention and approval for the laborious work I had engaged in all day long. It was true, I had worked very hard, but what did I actually accomplish? I got out of the water each day at almost exactly the same place I got in earlier that morning! I felt as though I had done so much, and I had in terms of physical & emotional activity, but in terms of actual progress toward my goal, I had made none!

This is the same battle I watch so many go through every single day! I see individuals fighting the exact same current morning after morning, diligent and dedicated to getting in there again today and working even harder than yesterday, yet with tremendous futility as no progress is made on any day when rowing upstream against a heavy current.

So what’s my point? Well, the speaker continued by suggested that all the vigorous rowing was complete futility and what we didn’t realize was everything we truly wanted was always downstream, and if we would just put the oars in the boat, the current would carry us where we needed to go! Hmmm… I thought! That’s ridiculous! All the things I know of that are worth having are all things you have to work really hard for, and even then sometimes you don’t get them! I was somewhat irritated by her supposition, but I continued to hear her out and I’m glad I did. What I realized that day is quite often, the things we think we want are not always what are in our best interest! You know the song, “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers”, speaks quite appropriately to this! I’m not saying all we have to do is sit in the boat either! We have to play an active role in guiding the boat, even when the current is carrying us, otherwise who knows what we will run into along the way that could greatly impede our journey! When we allow the current to carry us, we eventually arrive at a destination far greater than anything we could have imagined would have been upstream, even if we had found a way to get there! We still have an active role, but we are not the one powering the boat!

What this helped me realize, in terms of those things I have difficulty letting go of, is that I’m just paddling upstream. By worrying, I’m doing all this exhausting work that wears me out every single day and night and yet it doesn’t in any way increase the likeliness I will find the joy and peace I had been searching for! Quite the contrary, it negatively affected me in every single area of my life! Now, each time I start to worry and over think things, I have to remind myself to stop rowing! Leave the paddles alone unless I need to access them momentarily to steer away from potential trouble in the river and get back on course!

Learning to let go was one of the most difficult, yet at the same time most exhilarating experiences in my life. Learning to trust the current and quiet the fear-based “what ifs” that continually arose, allowed me build on each positive experience I encountered. This increased my trust and made it easier to step out on that limb the next time I was faced with worries and concerns. In this life, there are no guarantees. We each take a chance every morning when we step out of bed! I guess in a way the biggest question I ask now is, “WHAT AM I MISSING each time I try to paddle upstream, and how much better is what waits for me downstream than what I am killing myself for in the other direction?” I am also pretty keen on enjoying the view now, as I float by! Something I was never able to enjoy, or for that matter even notice, when I was paddling so aggressively! Let go! Float for a while! See where the current takes you and then ask if in comparison, what you were seeking before, including the exhaustion and devastation it brought, was worth never arriving! I think the answer is self-evident!

Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby

47. The Battlefield Of The Mind

battlefieldThe Battlefield Of The Mind

Long before we ever engage in outward behaviors, the war is waged in the battlefield of the mind. We spend so much time correcting what is considered inappropriate behavior with consequences and repercussions, yet how much effort are we really investing in understanding why we do what we do?

I owned an autism treatment center for a little over a decade. One of the many roles I engaged in was teaching behavior modification workshops to parents, schools, and caretakers. Understanding why  individuals were behaving as they were was absolutely paramount in determining how to eliminate the negative conduct in question. Most of these children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD’s) had limited verbal ability, so they were unable to articulate what they were thinking or feeling at any given time. This made understanding their behaviors all the more difficult.

Punishment And Consequences Don’t Always Equal Resolution

The common misconception was that if an unwanted behavior was punished, the consequences would deter any future behavior that was similar. This can be true in certain situations, but not all. In order for a consequence to be effective, the offender must be able to tie that consequence to the specific behavior, connecting the dots, so to speak. If a behavior is reactive in nature, as opposed to purposefully planned defiance, rarely will that be tied to a specific negative consequence successfully. The majority of the time, these children were not engaging in behaviors simply to manipulate outcomes or garner attention. They were engaging in them because they were overwhelmed and their emotional and sensory systems were out of control, which had detrimental physical and behavioral outcomes. Unless the underlying problems that were overwhelming their systems were addressed, there would be no resolution in sight, no matter what consequences were put in place. I found it rather interesting, as time and time again these punishment methods were employed, yet progress was never seen. Caretakers were simply upping the ante, increasing the degree of punishment each time, hoping that if things got severe enough, eventually they could put the undesirable behavior behind them. As I said, it never worked. What we ended up seeing were exhausted and frustrated caretakers, and even more behaviors from the kids in question, because the underlying problems were never addressed and resolved, but their anxiety was continually increasing.

What We Think Is Irrelevant If It’s Incorrect

One of the biggest issues in truly getting to the core of a behavior is taking our own perspective out of the equation and relying on data instead. You could have 10 different individuals observe a particular behavior and when asked, you would likely get at least 7 different reasons as to why they thought this person was engaging in this conduct. This is not unusual, as each individual was processing the situation based on their personal experiences and viewpoint. Without a doubt, those items played a profound role in arriving at their conclusions. The issue here is that it makes no difference what we “think” is going on in someone’s head that is driving the behavior. What matters is what is really going on, and getting to the core of that can take a little time and investigative work. The bottom line here is that what we think is totally irrelevant if it’s incorrect.

Identifying Causes Requires A Hard Look

One of the core tools used was called an ABC sheet. A = The Antecedent – which is what happened  before the behavior occurred. B = The Behavior itself. C = The Consequence – What was the actual consequence that was put in place when this behavior occurred? In so many cases, it was necessary to take a long, hard look at many days or even weeks of data before an underlying cause could actually be determined. It’s also important to recognize that many times the individuals were not able to articulate what they were feeling and why they were engaging in these behaviors, so trying to pry information out of them was rarely fruitful and more often than not, just increased anxiety and agitation further.

It’s All About Safety And Preservation

As an example, we had a child that was having some pretty serious meltdowns in the classroom. This child would throw furniture, throw himself on the ground, hitting and kicking anyone that tried to intervene, and refused to be consoled. This not only endangered the child, but other children in the classroom as well. The teacher was unable to identify any immediate or apparent trigger that was precipitating these events, so she would just restrain the child and eventually have him removed from the classroom until he was calmed and safe to return. After a brief period of taking data, she began recognizing a pattern that these incidents only happened on Thursdays in the afternoon. As I began laying out more pieces of the puzzle for her, she finally recognized that this child had severe Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID). He could not tolerate anything contacting his hands that felt cold or wet. He had been forced to participate in finger painting in art class several weeks prior. For someone who has severe SID to be forced to participate in an aversive activity, was not only traumatizing at the time (physically and emotionally), but it created severe anxiety about the possibility of this happening again if he attended art class in the future. From that point on, every Thursday afternoon, slightly before it was time to go to art class, his anxiety totally overwhelmed him and the resulting behaviors exploded, as he had no way to effectively articulate what he was feeling. In his mind, and for his believed safety, he would do whatever was necessary to insure he never had to go to art class again.

Once Adrenaline Starts, Logic Goes Out The Window

Keep in mind this is not a logical process. When an adrenaline-based, fight or flight response happens in the body, all logic goes out the window and the brain is only capable of processing what’s necessary to keep us safe. It doesn’t matter that this was not a true life or death situation, his brain was not recognizing that difference and hence, placed him in a reactive state to ward off future danger, whether it was imagined or otherwise. To the untrained eye, he looked like a total brat that was simply misbehaving and striving for attention. Many would have written it off as such and just punished him for his poor behavior. Punishing that behavior would have only increased anxiety, which in turn would have increased the behavior significantly, not to mention traumatize him further. It also would have never addressed the issues at the core of the behavior. Once the teacher realized the cause, she was able to appropriately address it and the behavior subsided.

Our Ability To Articulate Shuts Down With Fear

This is no different for the rest of us! Unlike many individuals who have ASD’s and are unable to speak, we may have the physical and neurological capability to be verbal, yet when we are fearful or under stress, many of us completely lose our ability to articulate what we are feeling and how it’s impacting us on a physical or emotional level. This is huge! There’s a silent battle being waged within, as thoughts, judgments, and  justifications fly through our noggin at warp speed, yet the ability to externally articulate what’s happening is often inhibited. Once anxiety and adrenaline kick in, communication breaks down and we resort to behaviors to simply protect ourselves. Again, logic goes out the window once adrenaline starts pumping. That’s behavior 101! Once communication shuts down, illogical behaviors can manifest in numerous ways and most of them are far from pretty. It’s usually only in hindsight that we begin to ruminate on things said or done, embarrassed by our responses, chastising ourselves, and desiring we had reciprocated differently. The difficulty here is that recognizing the issue after the fact can often be too late if our behavior created disharmony and the door has been closed to future opportunities.

Would Of, Could Of, Should Of… The Merry Go Round Of Rumination

I know we have all found ourselves at one time or another in the place where we walk away from a confrontational situation thinking of a million things we should have said at the time, but were just totally blank or too scared to speak. It isn’t until we are later removed from the source of stress that our logical mind kicks back into gear, giving us those witty come backs or vital information we wish we could have hurled at our opposition in the heat of the moment! These scenarios don’t only happen when we encounter hostility. Often times, they happen when we encounter opportunities for vulnerability and openness that leave us feeling emotionally naked and exposed. Fear is fear, and it hijacks our responses the same way whether we feel physically threatened, or overwhelmingly vulnerable. Adrenaline doesn’t care which side of the emotional coin is visible, it simply reacts regardless.

What’s Flipping Your Adrenaline Switch?

It’s to our advantage to better spend our time identifying and addressing the underlying triggers that flip our adrenaline switch, rather than just berating ourselves for behaving badly. If we don’t get to the place where we are able to bypass adrenaline and maintain effective communication, we greatly impair the ability to forge deep, meaningful, intimate relationships with others, as we never venture out of protective mode. We also rarely build self-esteem and confidence when our only response to difficulty is shut down mode.

A Detour Around Shutting Down

There are many ways to begin addressing the battlefield of the mind. One of my favorite books on this subject is called, “The Brain Mechanic” by Spencer Lord. I highly recommend this book. He very clearly identifies many of the devastating internal dialogs we continually run that contribute to our overwhelm and shut downs, as well as very proactive ways to detour that entire process. Understanding why our brains react the way they do and learning helpful exercises to challenge and rewire our automatic responses is incredibly helpful. Having the discernment and tools to employ is definitely beneficial, yet an even more important piece of advice here is to practice, practice, practice! In order to improve, we have to identify “safe” people we can practice with. I cannot begin to tell you the importance of processing the situations that make you uncomfortable with someone who will lovingly and with great patience and grace give you the opportunities to mess up and try your approach again and again, until you can come in for a smooth landing! For some of you, that may be a coach or a counselor who can work through these issues with you. For others it may be a close friend or relative who will assist you. What I can promise you is that the more you practice continuing to walk through difficult waters, rather than shutting down, the easier it becomes. That does not mean you will never experience discomfort. I still deal with that on a fairly regular basis, although nowhere to the degree I used to. What I experience now is more slight discomfort, but a recognition that if I keep talking and keep processing, I will work through that and resolve any anxiety I might be feeling in pretty short order. What I’ve learned is that when you are walking through hell… keep walking and you’ll eventually reach the other side! If you stop, you’ll be living in hell for a while! Keep walking! I’ve also learned that actually doing the emotional work is far less painful than the THOUGHT of doing the work. We have a tendency to work things up to a far more devastating degree in our minds than will ever play out in real life. Keeping this in perspective is always constructive.

My hope for each of us today is that we all identify “safe” people in our lives to have these discussions with. I’m seriously considering hosting a weekly discussion group to address some of these issues as well. If this is something you would be interested in, please message me and let me know. If there’s enough interest, it’s certainly something I will look at starting.

Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby

46. The Beauty Of Supporting Partnerships

kneeBack in 2015, my mom had knee replacement surgery. I travelled down and stayed with her for an entire month, to assist in her recovery process and provide the help she needed. The course of rehabilitation was pretty agonizing to watch at times. There’s really nothing worse than observing someone you love suffering in pain. It’s an incredibly helpless feeling. There was such a sense of wishing I could wave a magic wand and take all her difficulty and discomfort away. Yet, as we all know, that’s just not possible, nor it is always helpful.

The physical therapist came 3 times per week. The other times, I became the daily therapist. I remember early in this process, the excruciating pain she would experience when the therapist would push her physically beyond her point of tolerance. I knew there was great purpose in every painful movement she was inflicting, yet it was still difficult to watch my mom struggle. The therapist knew that if she stopped short and only went as far as my mom was permissive when stretching and exercising, she would not regain flexibility and her movements would be permanently restricted. By pushing beyond her comfort limits, which often incurred great pain, she was in essence insuring full future restoration and malleability in her joint.

Every few days, the degree to which she could bend that knee was measured with a tool. We charted her progress and continually nudged forward bit by incremental bit. The goal wasn’t massive daily improvement, it was just to be better today than she was the last time we measured. We just needed to see that there was constant, ongoing, daily progress. Going too far, too fast was a sure recipe for injury, yet slacking was a prescription for subsequent restriction.

There were so many days early on that I had to push my mom to do the exercises she didn’t want to engage in. She would ask, “Can’t we please just do this a little later?”, knowing full well the impending agony that was about to result. I felt her pain and dread, but I also knew by giving in, I was negatively impacting her outcome. By taking the less resistant path, she may have been more comfortable, but her rehabilitation time would have lengthened tremendously and it jeopardized the possibility of full recovery in her future. No matter how much I hated seeing her in current pain, the concern of long-term limitation and the resulting disability that it would cause was far greater, so I pushed on.

My mom progressed very well and made a complete recovery, in far less time than many, and with no complications. Even after her surgical wound had fully healed, there was still some remaining scar tissue around the incision. Scar tissue is dense, fibrous, and can be problematic as it inhibits flexibility and can significantly restrict movement. Even though her surgery was a complete success and had healed beautifully, there was a recommendation to continually massage the areas in question, to break up the scar tissue that could potentially spread and later pose possible restrictions. She was fully compliant and consequently, has now regained the full use of her knee.

Over the course of the next year, she encountered several friends and relatives that had the same surgery. Upon questioning, she quickly learned that those who were not pushing their limits were not progressing anywhere near as well. Those that took an easier road were dealing with significant movement restriction, even a year later. In hindsight, she was grateful for the additional push that she herself may not have accomplished, had she been addressing this all alone.

As I walk through my own path of healing, and as I encounter others who are hurting both physically and emotionally, I’m repeatedly being shown our journeys are so similar to that of my mom’s knee! We have wounds and injuries that run deep and require prompt, intensive interventions to restore full, unrestrictive functionality. These can be traumas, wounds, or simply fears and trepidations that can  remain unresolved and prohibitive if left unchallenged. Often that work is temporarily uncomfortable or even painful, which leads us to shrink back and avoid it like the plague. After all, no one really wants to hurt, right? Yet left alone, to our own devices, we would rarely engage the level of therapeutic discomfort necessary to fully heal, expand, and experience exponential growth. This is the beauty of supporting partnerships.

We lose flexibility and become more rigid as we pull back from others into protective postures that keep us comfortable. While immediate comfort is always on the radar of the conscious mind, it’s rare that we fully factor in the long-term consequences of such. It is beyond imagination what we stand to lose by  remaining comfortable, complacent, isolated, and not addressing these issues. Yet, we will often choose that comfort over the potential of breathtakingly amazing, which resides just on the other side of the struggle.

Without loved ones in our lives to push those boundaries and endearingly encourage us to move through the discomfort so we might reach our healthy goals and objectives, we would remain constrained. We need the love, support, and challenge of those in our lives to propel us forward in those sometimes uncomfortable spaces we would never journey alone. Just as with the knee, there’s a delicate balance here as well. Pushing too hard and too fast can be detrimental, yet the goal is always to see daily, positive growth. If we’re no better today than we were yesterday, we are stagnant.

So it is with our hearts, our mind, and our emotions. It’s a continual intervention of therapeutic love and challenge, growth and expansion, and the breaking up of scars that can encumber movement. This is an expedition that requires the involvement of others. To pull back, isolate, or protect from potential discomfort is to stifle progress and increase isolation of that heart muscle that so desperately needs to be stretched in order to be restored. My prayer is that we each aim to willingly stretch beyond our comfort levels each day, and carefully weigh the cost and benefit of simply remaining complacent when the exercises get tough. There is an inexplicable world of awe we have the opportunity to dance within if we’re willing to reach for more. I don’t know about you, but I want to dance.

Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby

45. Scar Of The Tongue

scarsWords carry such incredible weight. As a writer, I put a great deal of thought into each word before it spills out onto the page. The alteration of a single word can dramatically change the context and meaning of a phrase, which can be interpreted far differently than my original intent. Knowing that the reader can only draw substance from that which I’ve carefully laid before them, and with no further physical clues beyond, I deliberately scrutinize every word and sentence, to insure my meaning is clear.

Writing buys us the time to be discerning in this way. Heavily contemplating what we wish to convey, prior to doing so. Not so with the spoken word. We have a tendency to expel them in a haphazard, unchecked manner when we’re face to face with another, especially when emotions are in a heightened state. We don’t seem to take the same time and prudence in choosing our words when dealing directly with individuals. We rarely hear of a writer coming forward apologizing for words used in haste, as that’s seldom the case in written form. Yet, we continually wrestle with guilt, shame, and regret over injurious words spoken in carelessness, driven by strong emotions, that create a wake of destruction in their path. These are only heightened by the physical cues that accompany them, such as tone of voice, facial expression, & body language.

I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last few years revisiting, reframing, and healing deeply damaging beliefs about myself and devastation that has been inflicted by harshly spoken, careless, or in many cases intentionally wounding words. The degree of impact it has had, bleeding over into every area of my life, has been far more significant than I ever imagined. The old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” could not be further from the truth. Words can and do cause utter devastation and can break a spirit beyond recognition. As children and even young adults, we are so greatly influenced by how we are spoken to and the messages those words convey, as they are often taken to heart.

Choose your words wisely and always consider the potential damage they can do. Words can never be unsaid once they’ve escaped our lips. We have the choice whether we use our words to build up or tear down those we encounter. Wounds will heal, but the scars from the tongue remain. The power of life and death itself resides in this mighty  member. Wield it with the great weight of responsibility.

This is a poem I wrote several years ago as a reminder that our spoken words can devastate lives. Having long been on both the receiving and giving end, and enduring the aftermath, I am far slower to speak these days, and mindful of the power that my expressed words hold.

Scar Of The Tongue

With mastery the match began
Opponents both well armed
The weapons used for this great fight
Intended to do harm
Striking here and stabbing there
With each increasing blow
I watched the anger rise
As the self esteem dropped low
The tongue was like a dagger
As it hurled such hateful words
The damage irreversible
Once these things had been heard
With tension quickly rising
And the knowledge none would win
Both walked away still angry
Unresolved and still in sin
Although the surface wounds would heal
A scar would still remain
Reminding us the tongue’s
A wicked weapon we must tame

Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby

44. Love Letters To My Younger Self – A Lesson In Reframing The Past

reframing-the-pastPart 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

43. My Journey From Fear To Fantastic!

fearHow Do We Know When Things Are Shifting?

You know it’s funny… Sometimes we really have no idea how much something inside has shifted, until we are presented with a like situation and are able to witness the difference in our actions, reactions, or often even lack thereof. I experienced that recently, and I’m excited! I’m also humbled and extremely grateful to recognize an enormous area of past struggle for me is shifting.

There Was Something Very Different About This Day’s Experience

A while back, I discovered a facebook page (Daniel Neilsen – Yes, by all means check him out!)  that I honestly haven’t stopped thinking about. It captivated me because as a writer, this particular page was filled with script that sang to the depths of my being. I have such tremendous respect for and energetic draw to well articulated emotion, especially when it’s written in such a deeply moving way. I’d seen and poured over his posts so many times before, yet there was something more to my experience this day. I couldn’t quite put my finger on at the time, but I woke the next morning smiling. I realized I knew EXACTLY what it was that was different, and why I had great reason to celebrate.

This particular page was one wholly dedicated to engendering passion, growth, depth, and spirituality, all as it relates to being in and sharing a loving, awakened relationship. As I viewed the pictures, I don’t think anyone I know could refer to them as anything but yearnful. They envisioned that long sought after, shared passion that most would have to admit cries from the heart of every living being. Those impressions, beautifully paired with deeply seeded, thought provoking text, were meant to not only challenge current perceptions, but also reveal truth and the often uncomfortable idea of vulnerability and emotional nakedness. They truly grasped at my core, as they seemed to do for most who had viewed them and made comments. What was so different this time around though? Why did these move me so much more today than they had prior, yet in a far different way, that evoked a response from within that I had never experienced before?

As I scrolled through meme after meme, soaking in every aspect of what was being conveyed, I also read each and every comment the posts drew, and believe me, there were many! A large percentage seemed to arouse that emotional cry, that hopefully, they would be lucky enough to find something just like that down the road. That has always been the same type of response something of this nature would have elicited in me. An unsettledness, a yearning for more, and a potential dim hope that just maybe, I could stumble upon it and finally find some semblance of happiness!

Understanding From A Different State Of Being

For probably the first time in my life though, I saw myself reading from a different state of being. Not that long ago, I would have pined away at the thought of having what appeared to be such perfection, yet I would have been looking from a state of lack. Almost envious, slightly jaded even, wondering why I had never found such, and imagining just how perfect having this “romanticized mate” would be. I would have been considering how something so marvelous would certainly  change my life and level of contentment and happiness! I realized this particular morning that was not the place I was coming from this time around. I didn’t feel envy stinging at my core. I wasn’t experiencing the lack of what I didn’t have, but desperately wanted, biting at my heels as I usually would have.

Wholeness, Fullness, And Contentment Are An Inside Job

What I noticed as I read each piece, rather than sadness, I smiled and heart was warmed. Rather than experiencing those all too common feelings of longing for something to meet those emotional needs from within, instead there was the realization that nothing from the outside can ever do that. NOTHING! Emotional wholeness, fullness, contentment, and a complete acceptance and love for myself was the only thing that could provide that, and could THEN allow me to fully experience the love of another. It’s a 100% inside job and can in no way be influenced or even more remotely changed by outside forces, no matter how wonderful they might appear! This time there was understanding and not longing, joy and not sadness. There was no feeling of being incomplete. What I mostly felt was gratitude that I was seeing things clearly with eyes wide open, apart from emotional interference and a need to be needed! That, my friends, is cause for celebration!

The Flaw In Seeking Happiness

So many of us go through our entire lives seeking that which we feel will bring us happiness. Whether that be financial success, fame, and/or being deeply loved, none of these change the contentment and joy we can only construct from within. We were created with a tremendous capacity for love, both in giving and receiving, yet somewhere along the path those lines have become blurred and seriously corrupted. There’s a common misconception that if we could just be deeply loved by another, that it could transform all that is wrong, and our everything would change. It’s a romantic notion, and I’m definitely the proverbial romantic, but how’s that really working for us?

Programs Running In The Background

We often wrestle within ourselves to determine our worth and worthiness of love. More often than not, that wrestling isn’t even done on a conscious level. It’s like checking out the task manager on your laptop. Things are really running slow and wonky, so you open it up to find your CPU is 95% busy chewing data from programs running in the background, that you likely didn’t even know were running! Such is our subconscious! So much of what we believe about ourselves and others has been deeply engrained from our early formative years, and is programming that runs silently in our background. What we say we believe vs. what truly lies below that subconscious belief system about ourselves and others is spanned by a tremendous chasm. We typically gauge those values based on our perceived beliefs about how we feel others view us. It’s a little undercover paranoia going on, that plays interesting roles in our behavior and protection of our thoughts and heart. It’s really no more than a projection of what we really think and believe about ourselves, yet it seems so much more believable when we can place it on someone else, and convince ourselves it’s the view of another. Funny how we do that! These others, who are no more or less worthy than we ourselves are, and have no moral rights nor typically interest in our judgment, seem (at least in our own minds) to shine forth this all-encompassing judgment we so readily and willingly believe without question. It’s the beginning of our downhill snowball of self-esteem and worthiness of love, whether that be God’s, our own, or the love of another.

Hiding Our Imperfections

In response, we therefore fashion a beautiful mask, exquisitely detailed, to hide what we feel could be those perceived imperfections that surely no one besides us must have. Masks can be quite telling. How we wear them, when we wear them, and in front of whom, if any, are we willing to take them off? It’s like being a great actor on the stage, only constantly in a role that never ends and has no breaks. I don’t know about anyone else, but in my case, it was utterly exhausting! I was great at wearing the mask. Better than most I think, as I had even convinced myself in the role. Beliefs about ourselves, whether conscious, subconscious, factual or not, become behaviors, which become habits, which become lifestyles of falsehoods, all orchestrated for the eventual outcome of protection, and therefore heart separation. It’s all good, we tell ourselves. These roles, responses, emotions, and rigidity have been practiced so many times, we can play the parts in our sleep, in auto-pilot, and so we do… again, and again, and again! Interestingly enough, we often play the same movie rolls over and over, the only things changing is the leading characters and supporting actors.

There Are Only Two Things In This life… Love And A Lack Thereof

There are two things in this life… LOVE and a lack thereof. All of that “lack thereof” was most of what my life consisted of until recently, and it was all driven by fear. I wish I had known and understood that PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT ALL FEAR, but I think that’s one of those things we learn from within and through our own experiences. Sadly, it’s not something we can glean from the failed experiences of others. If so, I would have already taught my children well so they’d never hurt again!  When so much of our life is spent in the mask, playing the role, with the objective being protection of a very wounded and vulnerable heart, it’s impossible to experience life in any fullness.

Until We Feel Safe, We Cannot Learn Or Enjoy

I teach behavior modification quite often and one thing I always try to explain to parents of children who have anxiety disorders is as long as they are in high adrenaline, fight or flight mode (AKA – FEAR), they’re not teachable. There’s a switch in the brain that flips on during those periods of fight or flight that only allow us to consider 3 options… FIGHT, RUN, or FREEZE! This never has been, nor will it ever become a time when we can solve complex problems and have those teachable moments. Until one FEELS SAFE, and the anxiety and fear have subsided, not only can they not learn in their environment, but they miss almost every red flag along the way warning of danger. They also completely miss any enjoyable experiences as well. They can only concentrate on self-preservation, until that switch can be turned off again.

Common False Beliefs – We Are So Not Alone In These Thoughts

Close to 50 years of all kinds of fear (fear of rejection, fear of judgment, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being inadequate – and the list goes on) rendered me powerless and fully incapable of even seeing glimpses of the awesome individual I truly was. It also prevented me from seeing that everyone else surrounding me was dealing with the exact same issues, just no one was talking about it. You know, our masks were just way too pretty! It’s interesting how we view ourselves, our issues, and we convince ourselves we’re alone. No one else deals with these problems, right? I mean just think, if anyone really knew what went through my head on a daily basis, they’d lock me up and throw away the key! BUT THAT’S JUST NOT TRUTH! These are such common false beliefs.

We Aren’t What Happens To Us

We stuff our emotions deep and heavily compacted, hoping to never deal with their surfacing again, but they always return. Emotions are buoyant! They’re meant to be experienced (whether good or bad), acknowledged, learned from, and then released… not packed down like sardines that with time and heat really begin to create a tumultuous, stinky environment! It’s miserable for us, but not really something anyone else wants to be around either. When we finally realize that what happens to us isn’t who we are and doesn’t define us, but can be a tool to help shape who we become, it’s an awakening, eye opening, often life changing experience.

Our Perceived Flaws Are Really Only Our Future Growth Experiences

I’m awake! I’m free! I feel, and that no longer scares the bejesus out of me! I care far more about my own integrity and how I challenge myself to expand, than I do what anyone else thinks about me. But oh my friends… the freedom that comes with that is not only liberating, it allows me to release expectation, both from myself, as well as from others. It allows me to release fear. It gives me the freedom to be myself, which I’m learning is a pretty cool thing! Part of what comes with that freedom is then being able to look at what I once thought were flaws that needed to be masked, and now being able to see them as part of my journey and maturation process that has yet to be experienced. I can stand back now and see them as they are with no threat, only awareness of future growth to come, and an excited expectation of what that growth process will then lead me to when completed. We become dimensional. Instead of seeking people and things now to fill what I once considered misunderstood voids and vacuums that left me feeling uncomfortable and incomplete (which was unacceptable in a role where perfection was the plumb line), I totally dig that there are parts of me that remain unfinished! Do you know what that means? It means I’m very OK in the space that I currently occupy! It means I don’t “need” anything or anyone to complete me, as I’m complete in myself and within God! It’s a feeling I can’t even being to explain, but it’s awesome, and the absolute opposite of fear or worry or anxiety of any kind. It’s just BEING. Being here, being present, looking at every single thing that I encounter in my day and asking, “I wonder what awesomeness can come from this, and what I’m supposed to learn that’s just going to add one more layer of depth and dimension to what is already blowing my mind in an amazing way?” You know what? Life has become FUN! It’s become enriching and encouraging and uplifting, almost every single day! I mean get real, we all have a bad day here and there, right? My gratitude list is seriously HUGE! What’s interesting, is the larger that list grows, and the more I choose to engage it, the more things I’m given to add to it! It also means because I’m awake and aware, the unfolding of what remains undone becomes a celebration of a new aspect of my life, rather than an anxiety attack about what might possibly pop up and how that would impact the perception others have of me. What a HUGE shift!

Our Happiness Is Not Dependent On Any Outside Force

I can honestly say before I was looking FOR someone or something to make my life better. Now my life is better, and I’m in need of none of those things. It certainly doesn’t mean I don’t want friends or eventual companionship, but what it does mean is my happiness and existence is not dependent upon any other outside force. That takes the pressure off of me and anyone else who may come into my life, and allows us to just BE, to just enjoy, and to just experience. After all, isn’t that what life is all about?

Surface Things Just Don’t Matter

The other beautiful aspect is that it removes fear, so the mask can not only be removed, it can now be burned! No longer feeling the need to meet the approval of others is a lovely thing! I know who I am. I know whose I am. I know what an incredible source of passion and love I am. That’s not being conceited, it’s being aware and beyond humbled and grateful that God has granted me the ability to see these things for the first time in my life. At deeper levels of love, the surface things I spent the majority of my life stressing about just don’t matter. With time and age, the superficial fades, but the depths of the heart only grow deeper, stronger, and more fully engrained in the path of truth.

There Is Far More To Life

So why do I share all this? Because I wish someone had shared it with me. I want others to know there is more, far before they turn 50. I want others to know they are NOT alone and contrary to what every fiber of many of your beings might be screaming, that it’s not only ok, it’s preferable to take off those damn masks and start wandering through the journey of finding out who you really are. The beauty here is that no two of us are alike, so there’s not really a standard to judge against. If you’re uncomfortable in that because you’re new to this and don’t know quite who you are yet, GREAT! Be uncomfortable. That’s OK! Be awkward! That’s ok too! There’s a whole range of deep and intimate emotions I’m learning we as humans have cut ourselves off from, to protect our hearts and minds. START FEELING! Just be! Take each day as it comes, which allows us to not fret about what’s already past, nor be anxious about what’s ahead, but just live in this little moment. If you can’t yet do just one day at a time, try one hour at a time! If that’s too much, try 5 minutes! We all have to start somewhere. Just remember, sometimes the most impactful things that happen are the shifts in our awareness and perceptions of truth, that allow us to see things differently, and later act on them in ways that better serve us and those around us!

Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby