Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.
Everybody gets impatient, everybody.
But sometimes, that self-impatience crosses a line, and it becomes toxic.
I know all about it.
I’ve been living it, so here’s the benefit of some hard-won (and still winning) experience.
Recently, I saw a friend post a message on social media to the effect of, “Your past is just a story, don’t let it upset you.” Or, “Don’t worry about the past.”
He wanted to make people feel better, but missed an opportunity.
We have a chance to characterize the past, no matter what it was, to have meaning, significance, and ultimately, a positive mental and emotional outcome.
Reframing is the useful and healthy practice of changing the “frame” or context of something.
If you’re like me, a trauma survivor, your ego’s last ditch defense of self-criticism frames everything, large or small, negatively.
And, even now, years of therapy later, with sudden uplift and emotional breakthroughs, I still get impatient.
Here’s a “clip” of internal conversation:
“Lars, you know what’s wrong at this point, get going!”
“Get going,” is really, “What’s wrong with you?”
“Why haven’t you written 20 books since last year or made hundreds of thousands of dollars from your new blog?”
Subtext: “Okay, so you’ve failed and wasted your life until now, so don’t waste any more time!”
That’s the last gasp of self-criticism, the glob of toothpaste at the end of the negative tube, even now, as I’m doing great stuff.
Positive Self-Talk is crucial when you turn a corner.
Here it is, what I’ve said and keep saying to myself…the ultimate reframe.
I deserve more than what’s happening right now, I deserve a story of the past that is as positive as it can be.
Otherwise, my present isn’t all it can be.
The ego loves human doing.
Self-talk about the past, kind self-talk, restores the human being.
Listen to the response to that last glob of toothpaste before I throw the glob and the tube into the trash.
“I saved my life. I could have been a monster because of my childhood, but I wasn’t. I’ve been a great spouse, a great parent.”
1-I saved my own life, so I started and saved others. I made an entire healthy generation possible.
That’s it…Ground Zero.
What amount of money, what number of books, what list of external achievements can compare to this truth, this affirmation that turns what appears as a waste to the self-critic into the hero’s quest where he escapes danger, then, goes back and faces that danger for however long it takes to overcome it?
But I didn’t stop there.
2-I’ve succeeded in EVERYTHING in my life that I had the power to do or to change…everything, including the biggest thing, transcending a traumatic childhood.
3-By the time I was twenty-five, I’d sung in six of the most prestigious concert halls in New York as part of small, elite choirs; performed major musical theatre roles; appeared as captain of my high school’s quiz team six times; written scores of poems. Plus, later, while holding down almost 40 years of full time administrative work, I wrote and acted in my own plays, started my own marketing company, and, yes, I AM one of the chosen few whose blog posts have been published in Pick the Brain.
So, the ultimate reframe is the ultimate self-affirmation: if I died now, would my legacy be secure?
Yes. That’s why it’s the ultimate reframe.
The Moral of the Story
Yes…the past is only a story.
But, you have the choice to make that story toxic or triumphant.
Would you allow your child or spouse to torment himself or herself with twisting or diminishing every bit of their past, robbing it of a positive context and so robbing them of a happy present?
Of course not.
Whatever happened to you, whatever you did or didn’t do, the only way to make the best of the present is to make the best of the past.
Ready to save your life? Ready to make it the best it can be?
Then, transform your story. Make it as compassionate, kind, and uplifting as you can.
Because it’s not just about what you’ve done. It’s about who you are and who you’ve been.
The power of story.
Make your story the kindest it can be, fight back and win against toxic impatience.
Stories stick. Own your story, get to ground zero.
You’re worth it.
Start writing now.
Lars Nielsen writes full-spectrum communication, and now’s your chance to sign up for his newsletter for his website, Make Message Matter. Go to http://makemessagematter.com/ and, download his free guide to messaging, “How to Make YOUR Message Matter Cheat Sheet”.