Without giving details, I’ve alluded to having a rough start in life. I’ve peeled back the layers and learned how to live very harmoniously despite a tough beginning. Many of us have come to recognize the cause and consequence of the major challenges we experienced as children, and then we figure out how recover from the causes, thus creating new consequences.
What we probably spend less time considering, however, is the smaller uncomfortable moments of childhood and how their insidious arms reach out from the past and strangle us today.
Let’s look at relatively innocuous example. When I was seven, I had a list of friends to invite to my birthday party. Armed with their phone numbers, I sat on the stool by the wall phone in the kitchen, excited to call everyone. I had rarely placed a call up to that point, but I knew how and it wasn’t a big deal. I picked the phone up and stuck my little finger in the rotary dial when my dad walked in. He asked what I was doing and I told him. He said, “you’re too stupid to dial a phone. You’re going to dial the wrong numbers.”
He walked out. My heart was beating fast then and I dialed the first number. A woman picked up.
“Hi, may I speak to Amy?” I said.
“I’m sorry. You have the wrong number.” Click.
I was mortified. I looked around and was grateful that no one was around to see how stupid I was. Every call after that was a chore and a little scary. I was relieved when it was over. To this day, bizarrely, dialing people’s phone numbers is a chore for me. I don’t like calling people. Oh, people say, just program the landline with the frequently used numbers so you won’t have to dial them. So I tried that, and now I can’t figure out how to retrieve them in the phone.
Is any of this a big deal? No! Of course not. I’ve made a joke of saying that the only hard part of my life anymore is dialing the phone. It’s true. But now it’s a welcome reminder of how far I’ve come and what I’ve overcome. That’s probably why my really smart (not stupid) brain hasn’t amped up its ability to consistently dial phone numbers correctly, so I can have my personal success reminder.
Do we need to look at every uncomfortable moment of our early years to see how they may have negatively affected us? Not really. But, recognizing that some of our idiosyncrasies have roots that can only be explained by those moments helps us to let go of self-criticism. We can accept that our quirkiness is okay rather than fighting it.
We can also acknowledge that some “small” moments were not so small after all. What I explain to clients is that as horrible as physical or sexual abuse are, at least, if the abuse is remembered, the ramifications are understood. We can stand on a podium and tell our story and the audience gets it. They compassionately hope you are okay, or they secretly wish harm on your perpetrator. Psychologically, we understand the possible paths to recovery and understand the implications to one’s wholeness if left unchecked. But what if the wrongdoing was seemingly smaller? If you stand on a podium and tell the audience, “My father called me stupid when I was a kid,” would the audience really understand the impact of those words? They’d likely feel a little, “oh, that sucks,” or “he was an idiot,” but the full affect will go largely misunderstood. Just because cruelty is not physical, it is still abuse.
Next month, we’ll look in more detail at some of these “small” infractions and understand what affect they may have had on you: the silent treatment, name-calling, constant criticism, public shaming, withholding money as power, pestering/irritating/tormenting. More importantly, we’ll look at what you can do to overcome them.
In the meantime, for today, take ownership of those “little” uncomfortable moments. Realize that they were not little at all. And set your compass in the direction of freeing yourself of their negative impact. Remember – you are worthy, you are awesome, and you are lovable.
[My third event in the series, Making Discoveries – Incorporating the Phases of Enlightenment, will discuss how to recall and incorporate The Number One Thing You Knew Before You Were Born. Tune in on August 8, 2018 (in-person or online) to make leaps in your ability to tap into this energy that’s always with you.]
Ready for a real change? Try Happyin90.com. I guarantee you will be happier after completing the program and exercises in this course.