When I was a little girl, I couldn’t wait to grow up. I felt so confined, dominated and controlled by my mother and stepfather, who were responsible for making decisions for me. I never felt that they were making harmful, irresponsible decisions. I just wanted to be free from their limitations and restrictions.
I remember how my stepfather would call me names, make fun of me and emotionally abuse me, like the time he cut off all my hair into a rough boy cut, despite my tears and pleas not to. I remember the first time my mum spoke to me as if I was an adult, and burdened me with all her emotions. Over the years, she taught me that, for her to feel loved by me, I had to take responsibility for how she felt. I had to follow her rules without question. She taught me guilt, she taught me fear and she taught me what emotional manipulation was, by practicing these paradigms on me.
It wasn’t a joyous, peaceful or safe childhood. And I felt so trapped.
Naturally, as my years added up and I became a teen, I started testing the boundaries of my confines and exploring what else the world might have in store for me. By 13, my mum and stepfather had divorced, and I spent the next few years of my life, carrying the weight of my mother’s sorrow and mourning for the past, always afraid that my words upset her. Concerned that I was never a “good girl” enough to make her happy.
At 17, in one of her emotional rages, because I hadn’t come home with her prune juice fast enough for her, she sent me out into the world on my own. I went to uni for 3 months, then got a job for another 3; sold my car, and went travelling around Europe for the first time. In between journeys, I worked in an ice-cream ship in Salzburg, as a nanny in Florence and as a PA at a Film Editing company in London.
For several years I floated around in an unconscious state of mind, simply reacting and responding to life in the best way I could. Exploring, trying new things, but living without any sense of direction, connection and intention. Essentially, I was free from the rigid and painful upbringing of my childhood. But I didn’t feel free. I felt just as trapped as before.
At 21, in the middle of a freezing cold winter in London, I decided I wanted to study psychology. In the hottest place I could find. And that place turned out to be in Australia: James Cook University in Cairns.
POWER OF THE MIND
During my second year of university, a shift began within me. I started to observe myself. To become more self-aware. I noticed that whatever attitude I had about something, whatever beliefs I held, would be matched by my experiences. When I expected a good outcome, that is what I got. When I feared for the worst outcome, things wouldn’t flow as smoothly. I recall a very specific time when I was getting a CD player installed into my car, and my friend told me that the place I was getting it done at would be busy, noisy and several hours late. I refused to believe him and adamantly chose to focus on the thought that when I would go there, the process would be perfectly smooth, fast and easy. Which is exactly what it was. By discovering the power that my thoughts have over me, I learnt to calm my mind, and choose thoughts that actually served me. When I acknowledged the power of my mind, I set myself free from the shackles of a turbulent mind and life.
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
In my third year of university, I understood the infinite potential of positive thought. I noticed that in every moment I had a choice. To find the positive in every situation, no matter how challenging, upsetting or shitty. Or to find the negative in every situation. The more I practiced finding the positive in everything, the more good experiences I was having. By focusing solely on what was good in my life, I created a life that I previously only dreamed of. I felt so happy and grateful for everything in my life. I felt completely fulfilled and learnt to trust that everything is exactly as it should be. Focusing exclusively on what was good in my life set me free to experience the kind of life that I truly loved and wanted.
FORGIVENESS IS THE KEY
The biggest and most transformational lesson that I learnt through my inquisitiveness into my inner workings, was learning how to forgive. I recall a very special moment in my life, one evening. I had just started meditation a few weeks earlier, and only had 6 months of my psychology degree left to complete. One evening, during my meditation, I became aware of how much pain I created for myself. A wisdom I had never known before came through me, and confided in me that the only pain we feel is the one we cause ourselves. I spent hours quietly crying for the pain, and forgiving myself for being the cause of it. When I finally felt that I released everything and fully forgiven myself. I mentally turned to my motherland stepfather. One by one and went through the same forgiveness process, allowing the tears to stream down my face, heart-fully forgiving them for their misactions and misbehaviours and letting them go . It was one of the most powerful experiences in my life. It set me free to no longer be the tethered to the past, or the pain I had felt as a child.
Since that experience, I use forgiveness in all situations when I feel a stronghold, or an unhealthy emotional response to the situation.
Prior to setting myself free in these 3 simple ways, I had always held some kind of resentment and anger for my childhood. Now, however, I am deeply grateful for those experiences. Not only have they given me the wisdom, understanding and empowerment to change my life, they have also made me a much more compassionate understanding person, and really, really good at the work that I do with my clients.
Which is why I created a very special new program starting this Saturday 11 October. #10WeeksofFree is an intimate 3 month coaching program, to help you set yourself free, in your life. Spaces are limited, so make sure you sign up now. You can find out more and get involved right here. I can’t wait to see you there soon!
Image from 5th Element.