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Stories with the redemption theme can be very powerful catalysts in reshaping our future. Consider,
* The alcoholic woman with ten years of recovery under her belt.
* The failed business that reinvented itself and now is an example of success in its industry.
All stories of people who survived tough times and creatively wrote new chapters for their future.
I learned from my years as a practicing psychologist that we shouldn’t reduce a person to their diagnosis (e.g. a depressive) or the sum total of their childhood conflicts and hurts. While the latter may be formative of what the person is today and represent part of a struggle against conditioned thinking (e.g. I am not lovable or of value unless I perform at the highest levels), there is another side to the story of our person.
I also learned that tough times do not last but tough people do (A title of a book I once read)
But the central theme of a redemption story is that we are
A highly complex mix of psychological assets and liabilities
Shrouded in mystery that unfolds as we are exposed to new people and experiences.
Like the starry sky that cannot be defined by observing one star or galaxy
Defined more by our potential and strength than by our weakness and failure.
Transforming Hurtful Experiences
Consider the following examples of how people transform the liabilities of childhood and adult life into a positive contribution in their world.
- An academic whose mother was extremely self-absorbed and grossly neglected him. As an adult he studied unhealthy and healthy ways children bonded with their parents.
- A psychologist who had an “all about me” father who would never allow the child to express his own opinion. The child grew up to be a very effective public speaker.
- An exuberant girl who was banned from speaking at the family dinner table. She grew up with a passion for giving others a voice.
Discovering Hidden Talents
Living out a lifetime drama of hurt is not all there is to a person. Take the many cases where people discover professions and abilities when mentors saw a talent in them and facilitated the expression of this talent. In an article in the NY Times “It Takes a Mentor” Thomas Friedman discusses the predictors of success in students. Each of these students had one or more mentors who took an interest in them.
Take charge of your self-perception and the things you attempt by
- Refusing to limit yourself to defining yourself by your history of hurt and disappointment.
- Finding people who believe in you and bring out the best in you.
- Treating yourself as an unfolding mystery where you are in the process of creatively writing the ongoing scenes.
- Discovering what inspires you and letting that be the true north on your life’s compass.
So go ahead, creatively write and live the rest of your life’s story.
HISTORY IS NOT DESTINY.