I’m often asked for a quick fix to help women with whatever struggle they’re dealing with; and while I don’t believe that anything is that easy, I do believe life can be much simpler than we make it. When I drill down to what I do in my work as a coach, it is profoundly simple: I teach about the power of our thoughts. Whether it’s a situation at work, an unsupportive husband, a critical parent, a whining child, my approach is the same: Let’s pay attention to what we’re thinking. Thoughts are mere sentences in our head. Our life, our feelings, and our experiences, all come from our thoughts. Our power and our freedom to live a life we love, lies in our thoughts. If you get nothing else from my blogs, podcasts, IG stories, etc…get this: nothing is more important than managing your mind. Nothing. No new handbag, no relationship, no new car, no accomplishment, no nothing. Learning how to manage my mind, questioning my thoughts, and investigating what I’m thinking about is the most powerful and freeing thing that I’ve ever done. It is how I am living a live that I love.
When I first started working with my life coach, my life looked very different than what it looks like now. I was seeing a therapist weekly, was taking three different kinds of prescription meds, had numerous undiagnosed physical ailments, and was in the process of ending an almost 20-year marriage that had become emotionally abusive. If you saw me around town, you may not have noticed that anything was wrong. I was still running around like the rest of us moms, over-scheduled, overwhelmed and saying I was “fine”. Smiling at school events and showing up to drink wine at book club. My internal reality was a completely different story and I was at a breaking point. I reached out to a life coach feeling a bit desperate and thinking, what could it hurt?!
In my very first session, my family came up. I was well familiar with this sort of talk from my therapy and so I launched into my victim story; giving details of my experiences: how my parents said they’d go on the stand to testify against me if our divorce went to court, how my sister turned over some our personal emails to my husband to show how I was emotionally unstable to raise kids (I had written things like: “I stink as a mom”, thinking she was my safe zone), how in the middle of negotiating separation from my husband, my mother said this would all have been easier if I had died, leaving the kids without a mother instead of having them negotiate a divorced lifestyle (did you hear that? My mother said it would’ve been easier if I had DIED!), I spoke of how my parents assisted my husband financially over me, the stay at home mom to try to influence me to change my mind, how they would call and rant and rage against me getting a divorce so fiercely, as if I was threatening to cut off one of their grandkid’s legs, and on and on ….
My coach listened for as long as she could and then cut me off by asking the question that would change how I viewed my life forevermore: “Susie, what if you had the exact parents you were meant to have to become the woman you are today?” It was so profound and such a shift from how I was thinking that I remember exactly where I was sitting and what time of day it was when she asked me this question. I remember initially wanting to argue with her and say things like: “Easy for you to say….did you not hear what I just said?” or, “Do you not understand the level of betrayal and abandonment I’ve suffered?!?” but instead I paused. I let her words sink in. And when I stopped to consider the idea that I had had the exact experiences I was supposed to have had, something washed over me that I had never before felt. To say it was calm or peace would be an understatement. I entertained the thought that nothing has gone wrong here. My parents, my ex, my sisters were all acting exactly as they were meant to act so that I could have the experience I was put on this earth to have. I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down in all caps: “I HAD THE EXACT PARENTS I HAD SO I COULD BECOME THE WOMAN I AM TODAY”. Say what?
What my coach did was pretty simple actually. She didn’t get involved in the drama as a friend or traditional therapist might. Instead, she cut through the pain and drama and gave me a new way to look at my past. She gave me a new thought to think. Instead of spending time thinking how unfair my life was, how awful my situation was, how no one should have it this tough; I shifted to think that everything happened exactly how it was meant to happen. How did I feel when I thought that thought? Empowered. Free. Strong. Confident. Warrior-like. How did I feel when I thought of how unfair my life was? Defeated, helpless, sad, overwhelmed. Since both thoughts are just sentences in my head, why not choose the empowering one that allows me to move into the next best version of myself? In thinking that my parents did exactly what they were meant to do, I also could let go of the battle with them and the power they held over my mental state. I no longer wasted time thinking of how things “could have been” or “should have been.” It is so simple actually. The past has happened. They did do what they did. They said what they said. Why was I wasting time thinking or complaining about what already happened? I had lived years with that mindset and where did it get me?
All of this to say, the more we can pause to see what we’re thinking and why, the better off we will all be. Remarkably I was able to drop so much of the anger I held towards my family when I stopped arguing with what had happened. Formerly it was like I thought that if I debated about what had happened and how it shouldn’t or complained about it enough, maybe the situation would change. What, like I’m a time traveler?! How do I know that they were supposed to do exactly what they did? Because they did. Arguing with the past is pointless. It will win every time.
Dear warriors, please pause to investigate the thoughts you’re telling yourself, especially about your past. Some of my clients have had some horrendous, abusive things happen to them. I’m certainly not condoning any of these things or excusing the people who did them. Rather, I’m pointing out that when we spend time thinking about what should have happened or railing against what did happen, we prolong the pain we feel from the situation and give it more power. We spend more time as a victim and less time living this life we’re here to live.
I am forever grateful to my life coach for showing me the way to take my power back in my life; I now stand tall and proudly say: “I am the woman I am today because of what happened.” I no longer waste time thinking of what could’ve been or how my parents could or should be different than who they are. They are who they are and I had the exact parents I was meant to have to be the woman I am today. And so, dear listeners, with my birthday right around the corner, I’d love if you could gift me this: pay extra attention this week to what you’re thinking about things that happened in the past. How much time do you spend thinking about things that happened in the past, whether 20 years or 20 minutes ago. Do you still beat yourself up for something you did in your 20s? Do you feel anger towards someone for something they did when you were younger? Choose this week to try to view it differently. Ask yourself how did that incident shape me to be the person I am today?
Finally, I have one quick favor to ask you. If you found any piece of this post helpful, make sure you’re getting my weekly newsletter full of goodies and support for you. Also, please share this with one friend who may also benefit from the message. Take a screen shot, post it on instagram and tag me – I will respond (and follow you!). Text it to her, share it on facebook. We can make big difference in our lives by listening, learning and practicing. I want to share this work with as many warriors as possible. The more of us who are out there living lives we love, the better off we all are. Shine your light out this week, dear Warriors! Let’s go!