Did you ever wonder how you got to be the way you are? Really, what is it that makes you you? Why do you like the foods you do or have the religion you have? Why do you know what you know and why don’t you know what you don’t know? Why do you react the way do?
The mind is an amazing tool and one of it’s strongest features is it’s ability to generalize. We don’t need to make every single mistake for every single circumstance each time it comes up. We can learn from the past and we can generalize for the future. Example – when you are 2 and crossing from your house to your best friend’s for the first time and your mother says “Look both ways befoer crossing the street” (and then perhaps jerks you back and spanks you when you forget) you learn to look both ways before crossing the street. Not just the street near your house but the street outside of school and streets all over town. In fact, if you go to a foreign country you’ll still look both ways before crossing the street. And if you come to railroad tracks you’ll probably look both ways before crossing them as well even though they aren’t technically a street. The brain generalizes and it saves a lot of resources. You don’t have to learn every single time you come to every single new street that you need to look both ways.
The mind is, in fact, a meaning making machine. It doesn’t just stop with crossing the street. It generalizes lots of things. See if you can see yourself in any of my experiences.
No one wants me.
In 1st grade we played kickball. All the other kids seemed to love it. There was cheering and shouting as teams were picked and sides chosen. I was picket close to last. I didn’t understand the game. I didn’t really get what we were doing. And I didn’t do it very well. I made up my mind that I didn’t like team sports, sports were confusing, and that the other kids didn’t want me to join them. I kid you not, that decision made by a 6-year old still influences me. To this day, I would rather create my own party or my own course and invite people rather than attend someone else’s. If I’m hosting, I know everyone who’s there wants to be with me. My 6-year old who’s worried no one wants to play with her or that she won’t behave the right way doesn’t have to worry.
What happened here?
In middle school I came home with a report card. Straight As except for one B. My dad looks at the report card and says “What happened here?” He doesn’t need to point to the B. I know what he’s talking about. I failed. I didn’t get an A. What happened indeed? Why wasn’t I living up to my potential, making him proud, and being good enough? Had I been slacking off? Didn’t I care? Was he mad now? Did he still love me? Better be safe and not make that mistake again. I made that one question “What happened here?” mean all that. He said “What happened here?” and I heard “You’re not good enough. Try harder or I won’t love you.”
In 9th grade I fell head-over-heels for Austin. He was smart and funny, kind of a bad boy with his long hair and guitar playing but still in the honors classes with me. For three years I had the biggest crush on him ever in the history of crushes. I kid you not. That crush was HUGE. He dated Holly. And kept dating her. And kept dating her. Then finally the skies opened up. The sun shown through. They broke up. Hallelujah. And he started dating Judy. WTF? I was crushed. I made it mean, again, that no one really wants me and also found reason to believe that being myself wasn’t a good idea. No one really wants me. Better figure out what they do want. And don’t ever love or want or desire someone or something as much as I wanted to be his girlfriend. It just hurts.
Now, am I unique in all this? Does everyone else go thorugh life unscathed making up nothing about the world even when they are hurt and disappointed? Are you all entering each new relationship, each new job, and each new parenting moment fresh and new? No. I’m pretty much like everyone else in this. The moments of deciding how it’s safe to be, what the world wants of us, and what parts of ourselves are ok to be and which ones need to be hidden or denied – that’s a very human experience. Everyone does it. Even you.*
The mind is a meaning making machine.
It’s the way the mind works. It generalizes from our past and lives that past into the future to keep us from making the same mistakes again. Along the way, we exile the parts of ourselves – the behaviors, feelings, and thoughts – that other don’t like. When attachment and being true to ourselves are in opposition, attachment wins almost every time. (Look for more on attachment later.)
The past is the way it is, the mind makes the past mean things about the future and that’s just the way it is. Most efforts to change don’t really do much. New Year’s resolutions get abandoned within 6 weeks. Why even bother trying? Netflix or a few beers or a peanut butter cookie all feel good in the moment. And they are predictable. We know what happens when we eat or drink or watch. The uncertainty of change also makes it harder. The hope when we begin. The crushed hope when we fail. What we make all that mean about ourselves (because has the mind stopped generalizing? Oh no. It’s still going!) It’s crushing. Demoralizing. Disheartening. Why even bother?
You want more.
We bother because we know we are bigger than that. We each know there is something inside of us that wants more life than that. We want to feel alive. We want to connect. We want someone there with us in moments of pain and moments of joy, in moments of exquisite vulnerability where we dare to peel back the armor around our hearts and let someone in and they are delighted to be let in. We want this. We want it badly.
Are you ready to get out of the soul-crushing story your mind has made up for you? Are you ready to have love and connection in your life? Are you ready to make the leap of reprograming your own nervous system? You can do it. I can help. We can do this together. I’ve been searching and learning and growing for at least 20 years. Trying to figure out myself and others, spending a lot of time and money on different programs and retreats. Ducking out of society for years at a time to live alternative lifestyles. Paying nearly 6 figures once you add up all the programs over all the years.
The life you want is possible.
I’ve learned some pretty amazing things. I’ve learned that the experience of being you can transform. What you believe is possible for yourself can open and you can enjoy living your life. You can have the life you want and design for yourself rather than the life you just ended up having because of your experiences and what your brain made them mean. You get to choose, powerfully, rather than having choice dictated to you by your past.
Like the sound of this? You’ll love the way it feels. Reach out and let’s connect. I look forward to hearing from you soon.