Every one of us has a story, and the day I started telling mine differently, is the day that turned what could have been my greatest obstacle into opportunity.
The quick snapshot is a single parent, alcoholic home, left to fend for myself at thirteen years of age. I’m tempted to say that I’ll spare you the details, but in truth, it’s more like I’d be sparing myself the details of that story…or at least from telling the story that way.
As a child I was conditioned to hide what was going on in our house from the rest of the world. In my early twenties I remember the feeling of liberation as I began to find my voice and finally share my story. It was freeing, even healing, to acknowledge those negative details and bring them out of the shadows and into the light. Over time however, telling my story this way had become a habit, and began to weigh heavy.
What I know now, after decades of personal study, as well as teaching and writing about cognitive psychological concepts for more than 20 years, is that we tend to see the world in habitual ways unless we consciously challenge ourselves to see differently. We get so used to thinking we’re seeing the only truth that exists, that it often doesn’t occur to us to look at things from another perspective. And when we look at things only one way, we can so easily get stuck in that story.
I remember the day I understood, for the very first time, that there was more than one way to tell my story, and that it was within my power to choose. I was in a conference room with fifty others when this realization whirled itself around me like a tornado of thoughts and emotions. Not wanting to have a complete meltdown in front of the room, I excused myself out into the hallway and for the next twenty or thirty minutes had the most profound ‘ugly cry’ session I think I’d ever had. I vividly remember the intense, freeing feelings of possibility and hope, mixed with fear and trepidation that the responsibility to choose a different way of seeing and telling my story, rested with me.
It would have been easy to remain stuck in the story I was handed as a child and continue to ruminate on the negative details. The truth is, the light and the dark can and do exist within the same story. Whichever one we choose to feed and give most of our attention to is the one that will flourish. Without ignoring the dark elements, we can tell our stories in ways that release us from being the victim and move us into the role of victor. We can reframe our difficult chapters into healing stories that have meaning and purpose.
Sure, the details of what it was like growing up in our house will always remain the same - I can’t change those – but what I can do is focus my story on how the experiences strengthened me, taught me compassion, resilience, and how to be self-sufficient. I can give my energy and attention to how I was inspired to seek knowledge, how to communicate, and to raise my children differently. I can also celebrate that this was the birthplace for the meaningful work I’ve loved doing throughout my career. To find and celebrate what’s right in it all, instead of letting the negative details overshadow everything else.
This is the very essence of the Celebrate What’s Right movement, and what has attracted us all to Dewitt, how he sees the world, and the community of Celebrators who gather as a result.
What could have been my greatest obstacle, in the end, became my greatest opportunity. It fanned a flame within me to discover new ways of seeing that would allow me to reframe obstacles into opportunities that not only shaped my career, but allowed me find gratitude and forgiveness along the way. It's also the path that led me to a new and exciting project. Dewitt and I, along with team members Kevin and Sherrin, have gathered the best of what each of us has to offer to create The Habit of Celebration, an e-course designed to help us all more easily turn our obstacles into opportunities by making the practice of celebration a habit - allowing us to more easily see our lives and the world around us in ways that fill us with joy, gratitude and energy…no matter what the details of our story might be.
To learn more about The Habit of Celebration, follow this link to get 2 FREE MODULES: https://bit.ly/2LdFVmq