As the holiday season approaches, the joy of seeing and being with family is for many pleasantly anticipated and planned. Our family celebrations may be the events where many of our joy moments or peak experiences emerge. However, like all good Way Show-ers, families also reflect what we would like to change in our behaviours and experiences. As I say about my own family — they see me at my best and my worst.
Are you harbouring both joy and angst over seeing your family through the holidays? The joyful feelings easily bubble to the surface while the angst and fear can trigger denial and defensiveness, neither of which support transformation. How about facing those negative feelings by —
- naming them
- taming them by identifying what you fear
- reframing your limiting belief about yourself (the source of your fear)
- proclaiming the unique and valuable gifts you bring to the world?
In 2003 I wrote a story illustrating the above transformational writing process. As you read the story below, you will notice the shift in me from fear to joy and its final culmination into a poem, which is as near to a peak experience (for me) as anything:
I feel the putrid taste of judgement rising up my throat and bursting prickly upon my tongue. I don’t want to hold its sharp, bitter discourse of shame in my mouth. But I do. I feel ashamed and angry at myself. The peanut gallery in my mind whines, “How could you let yourself become this negative? How could you allow yourself to fear life and feel dependent on others? How could you give up your power and your truth in place of others’ needs? How could you not protect that beautiful 10-year old wonder of a child you once were from being wounded? How could you abandon her? Shame! Shame! Shame!”
This would be the moment when, in the past, I lit up a cigarette to console myself and to engage in the oh-so-familiar, but not always recognizable, pity party for poor me. I attempted many consolations to avert attention away from the cloud of sadness and loneliness that swept its grey, dinghy shadow across my soul time and time again.
I am a creature of habit holding on to sorrow long after its usefulness has depleted. In contrast, I prided myself on my ability to relinquish external attachment to cars, clothes and convenient companionship. Now there’s the dichotomy — the pull that holds me off balance, the decision that I am not making — hold on or let go. I am like the clawing kitten entangled in the wire mesh of a screen door meowing desperately, “Why this? Why me? Why now?” The tireless refrain from the peanut gallery chimes in with a never-ending chorus of “Silly, silly girl, look where you are again. When are you gonna learn?” And the pity party’s timber strengthens, and the cigarettes start to look even more attractive, and the self-punishment cycle lives on fed by my self-doubt.
So there I hang, suspended in limbo, when all I need is to decide ‘hold on’ for the ride or ‘let go’ and hop on another screen playing a better story. This doesn’t sound difficult so why am I not making clear choices that feed me rather than indulging in draining negative self-pity? Yikes, no wonder the child within still feels abandoned, and I still feel sad and lonely.
What could be so fearful that I hesitate to taste life’s every experience? I am reminded of my friend Jake’s words, “FEAR is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.” Wasn’t I the one who said, “I’ve got to try everything once.” Who am I to accept less than my due? Who am I to give less than my all? What child would turn away from adventure? What adult would abandon exploration?
I feel as though I just gave birth to a new innocent, a 120-pound bundle of joy, and in doing so abandoned negative thought rather than myself. For me, this is a peak experience like climbing a mountain to its summit. I am atop the mountain of life, drunk on the nectar of the gods and singing my praises to the universe. And my ‘new favourite’ song emerges as a poem.