How often have you heard the saying, “Experience is the best teacher.” I used to hear that a lot, especially while growing up, and while I didn’t always appreciate it then, I now agree with it 100%. Although there are some experiences I wish I could’ve avoided due to the pain they caused, they’re still a part of my story.
The innate beliefs we have about ourselves can be the driving force behind the decisions we make. Our experiences—good or bad shape who we are. They become a part of us, a part of our story.
I’m often asked, especially when I meet new people, “What’s your story?” That makes me chuckle inside because it’s the same question I ask aspiring authors. My story has many facets that started within childhood. As a child, my family moved around a lot because of my father’s corporate job. I was always the new girl, and it wasn’t easy. Every place we moved was so different. What were the rules here? Who could I trust? Who should I be?
It was important that I figure things out before I shared myself in any way. I needed to learn the rules and customs and behaviors in a new place, so I could mimic them and fit in. I became a completely different person every time we moved, and I adopted new personas to match what I saw in others. That’s when I developed my three most crippling self-defeating beliefs:
- If people know who I really am, they won’t like me.
- No one cares about me.
- I don’t matter.
It’s been a long time since I was twelve years old, and I wish I could say that those internal messages disappeared with my youth, but they did not. To the contrary, these became my core beliefs about myself, and they kept me in chameleon mode for far too much of my life. These negative beliefs caused me to neglect myself and my own needs, to marry an abusive husband, to work in a career that I hated, to be underdeveloped as a human being, and to live a life of crippling anxiety—always trying to figure out what to do, who to be, how to act.
With the help of some good therapy, journaling, and a daily practice of meditation, I’ve worked through these issues, and they no longer cripple me. But I admit that, on certain days, I have to work really, really hard just to justify my existence. On those days I feel like I don’t matter, that no one cares about me, and if people knew who I really was, they wouldn’t like me.
But, my story doesn’t end there, and it was through those tough experiences that I’ve become the person I am today. If I hadn’t gone through some of the trauma in my life, I’m not sure if I would’ve been led to my true calling of helping others get their story out to change the world. I know I wouldn’t have this level of self-awareness, nor would I have the strength and courage to share my story with others. It was through those tough times when I learned what courage and humility really meant that enables me to share my experiences with others today.
What about you? I know you’ve experienced something that has forever altered your life. Guess what? I bet you’re not the only one, even though it might feel that way. Your experiences may not have been easy but they’re a part of your story and have helped shape who you are. Who can you help by sharing your experience with someone else?
If you or someone you know is interested in sharing their experiences, reach out to us and we will help make it happen!