Who would you be without your story?

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Over the last few days I’ve met some wonderful people. Wonderful, but in many ways troubled and hurt. For the most, they represent a large part of humanity.  Being bashed around by life is pretty much an element of the human experience. It is how we deal with these experiences though that defines us and creates our reality. We all have a past or a sad story. As a child, we are at the mercy of these sometimes hurtful experiences. They form our perception of life and in many cases; life is a day to day struggle and sometimes plain hostile. I can only speak for myself here, but that is how I felt. This perception that life is hostile follows us into adulthood and sadly a lot of people die still thinking the same way. Why is that? Again I can only speak for myself, but I do believe that this rings true for most of us. I clung to my sad childhood story. I fully believed that my childhood experiences defined who I was. This belief filled me with a lot of resentment and anger. I blamed the way I grew up for everything that went wrong in my adult life, and when asked, I would regurgitate my sad story. It was listened to with sympathy, which again reinforced the sadness of my story, filling me with even more resentment and anger. Pretty soon it became a vicious cycle of feeling sorry for myself , because my life was such a struggle, followed by resentment and anger. Does this sound familiar to you?

Self-acceptance

We all search for that seemingly elusive state, called inner peace and I was no different. In my search I stumbled upon a book called, “The Tao of Inner Peace” by Diane Dreher. This book was the beginning of the end of my sad story. Up to that point I did not realise that I am not accepting myself for whom I was. In this book there was the following statement; “without self-acceptance we view life as a constant struggle”. I still remember reading this statement over and over again. Never before has anything made so much sense to me.  People look for acceptance in all sorts of ways; I was looking for acceptance by following intellect. I’m not sorry about it, but the engine that drove me was all wrong. At the time I fully believed that once I had a PhD, I would be accepted by others; I would have proven that I was worthy of their acceptance. Now, knowing better, all I can do is smile and have compassion for that insecure person that used to be me. I realized that I, and every single being on this planet was already whole and no amount of titles or material stuff can add to that wholeness. After reading “The Tao of Inner Peace”, I gobbled up one after the other self-help and spiritual books. I wasn’t looking for teachers, but the more I read, the more life started to make sense.

Blame is the unwillingness to take responsibility

When I heard the above statement, a light bulb went on. For the first time, I took inventory of my own life. What I found was that I became a resentful and angry adult because of hurtful experiences in my childhood, but I wasn’t a child anymore. There were no more parents I could blame, because I made my own choices now. I could not expect my life to become less of a struggle, if the decisions I made were based on my previous experiences. I needed to change the way I thought and above all, I needed to let go of my sad story, which up to that point I identified with. Don’t misunderstand me, some of the experiences we have as children or even as adults can be very painful and can leave deep emotional scars. I am not diminishing them, but if I have learned anything; it is that clinging to the past, makes it hard to move forward. Mostly letting go of the sad story comes with forgiveness; those that were the direct cause of the painful experiences and ourselves. Most of us end up harming ourselves and the once around us (knowingly or unknowingly) due to these past experiences. We need to forgive ourselves for that and have compassion. Only then can we let go and step fully into our own lives.

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