I have just returned from the annual Magic of Skiing workshop and after a fabulous day of skiing our group reconvened to listen to a presentation by Tom Crum and Curt Cronin. I’d heard about Curt Cronin and his Navy Seal team last summer. He and Tom have partnered to assist other teams of SEALS, professional sports teams and corporations with a blend of the demanding physical, mental and even mystical aspects of life required for high risk, high reward accomplishment. Since watching GI Jane, reading Lone Survivor and hearing of the Bin Laden event, like most of us, I’m in awe of these guys.
Curt was introduced to share some of his philosophies and his SEAL experiences he’s had that are no longer classified information. Articulate and charismatic, brilliant and funny, he had me at ‘hello’. And then he mentioned that he’d met Tom in Egypt at an event taught by my former husband which had transformed his life totally. It felt like I’d been blindsided and stung. Again. For those of you who don’t know, I was married for 14 years to a prominent leader in the field of personal development from the very genesis of the organization. I’ve also spent the last 15 years on the flip side of that, doing the work on myself to heal, let go of the past, and because it was the only way I could make sense of it, to spiritually redefine what it all was about. Obviously however, my knee-jerk response still needed some excavation. Now, I don’t particularly like deep processing. I know that whatever you focus on, you get more of. Like being a terminally intermediate skier, someone can be a terminal victim. But there I was, again experiencing the wounds and lingering resentment. And worst of all, I was exasperated at myself for it.
The next evening, Tom presented an exercise that we’ve done for years. It’s a martial arts demonstration in Aikido that physically illustrates how your ‘story’ holds you back (the backstory) and how you keep dragging it with you at high cost. But this time was different. I’m going to tell you what I learned that has DRAMATICALLY CHANGED MY LIFE! And then you may want to do this process for your own liberation!
What’s the miserable backstory that you keep dragging around like a trophy or proof you’ve been victimized? I’m not talking about some little annoyance here. I’m talking about a big frickin’ miserable life altering situation. Yours could be a ‘he/she done me wrong’ thing or a family tragedy or maybe some physical malady, but it’s something that’s like a dagger in your heart or a noose that gets tighter each year and – take it from me – it’s sucking your life force out of you. That doesn’t mean that the story wasn’t valid or horrific or tragic. Because it probably was. Sometimes we have constructed such fiction about ourselves because it feels better to put our head in the sand, but guess what? Everyone already knows, so you might as well shine the light on it yourself and be done with it! And here’s the hell of it. If you don’t: there’s a ledger sheet attached to your ‘story’, a cost and a payoff. The cost can be physical, emotional, financial and most definitely spiritual. At some point hopefully, you’ll get just as sick and tired of being in reaction like I was and decide to come up for air. And if you don’t decide, it will get worse because that’s how it works: good gets better and bad gets worse.
Here are/were some of mine: How could he not want me?! Why would dear friends betray me? How can women live with themselves when they sleep with other women’s husbands? How could someone continue to be successful when they created so much destruction, heartbreak and suffering? It’s not fair that some women have the support of an honest loyal man and I don’t.
Yikes!! And here is what it has cost me: thwarting potential opportunities because of fear of failing, not creating collaborations with people out of distrust, not holding myself to the highest productive standards, fear of commitment to people and projects because of my fanatic freedom seeking. Basically feeling victim stuff and being really hard on myself. After all, I should have gotten beyond this long ago.The kicker here is that your ego has complete control when you drag your ‘story’ along because it keeps you stuck. Worse actually. It keeps you safe in your familiar comfort zone of misery and self-flagellation. Grab paper and pen and set aside a time to figure this out for yourself.
The next step is to create a bigger vision, a bigger carrot. That wasn’t ever hard for me but then I’d get stuck in my lists of dreams and goals and even more disappointment in myself. Now I knew this mostly. So I’d pull out of the old hat the catch phrases I’d learned during the early tenure: ‘If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger.’ (That one is bullshit.) or, ‘Everything has a purpose and it serves us.’ If those are your mantras, ok. But the story is still the story – welcome to your consistently mean self-talk and judgement. Forever. But hold on! This next part is salvation!
Here’s what changed! This time, Tom said that if we can’t love our story we can’t let go of it either. WTF? So on the plane ride home and a couple of morning journal writing sessions later, I got it!! First, I brainstormed what the real ‘story’ was and its elements and what those have given me. Rather than feeling the fallout from situations I was stuck on that honestly spanned devastating to delightful, I looked at who I was being and learning during the good, bad and ugly.
I want you to know you!! I want you to look back on the components of your ‘story’ and see who you were, how you were guided and watched over even when you didn’t know it. I want you to discover that new inventory of qualities and values you gleaned from your experiences. When you find your way back through the labyrinth of your own experience, you will see the light that you are. This truly, is the complete life changing look at your back story. I promise you, as a result of this, you will unload a burden you’ve lugged around for a long time. If you’ve done this already, you know who you are and how vast you are. It also doesn’t mean you won’t ever react or respond to that issue again but it will be through a different lens. I’ll share with you what I unearthed about myself, that ‘Becky’ during those empire building years:
She led a fight for what’s right and good and created vast opportunities to teach herself and others the same. Her resilience, her capacity for love and joy and details all were gifts she gleaned from those events. She was mother, wife, leader, writer and creator. She was funny, smart, principled, generous and kind and courageous. Her heart was stretched to the limits and when broken only became bigger. She learned new businesses and talents, was a peacemaker and teacher and ridiculously resourceful. When the time came for a new ability to be added, she became a fierce warrior. She stood strong in her emotional and spiritual strength. She became anti-fragile! This is a hero’s journey. And here’s what surprised me: by focusing on what each of the scenarios really was about, I have realized my own gifts and strengths. It was all about me, in a good way! Add to this the last 15 years and the adventures, tremendous work I’ve done for myself spiritually and emotionally, learning art and languages and music and sports. Being in nature and the thrill of my love of God. Spending time with new and old friends, my kids and now, OMG their children!
So now. I’m getting on with life. I’m grateful beyond grateful to have had this HUGE revelation and release. I’m able only now to create a bigger vision for myself and it looks far different than before because the ‘it’ I’ve been chasing truly was me. I’m the ‘it’! I trust myself now to dream a different dream for my future which is so deep and meaningful. It’s not competitive nor arduous. It’s honoring the God self of me who was her, now gift wrapped as me and I’m EverythingBecky.
P.S. I attended the La Jolla Playhouse production of The Darrell Hammond Project that was stellar yesterday. His personal story as a comedian on SNL, his tragedies and triumphs showed his courageous look into his history and the insight for his new perspective. I give two thumbs up! www.LaJollaPlayhouse.org