Our pretentious lives can't go any further until we face our own past. Change is possible. Healing is possible. Growth and forgiveness are possible.
It is never too late to re-write your life script - the script that has been passed down for generations. It is never too late to change your life, never too late to heal.
Dealing with personal resistance is a key part of rewriting
the script. A feeling of resistance is an internal source of guidance for us.
We all have an internal guidance system, and most of the time it gives us good
advice, but in the case of resistance, it can often go either way.
Positive forms of resistance are when we get that feeling of
dread in our stomach or when we hear a voice in our head telling us “No, don’t
do that.” Resistance can then protect us from situations we are better left not
experiencing. For example, we might feel resistance about loaning money to
someone we don’t really know well and whom we suspect will not pay us back.
But sometimes, we find that we resist things we would do
better just to let go of rather than allowing them to cause us anxiety and
pain. In the above example, we might resist giving the money, but we also might
resist saying “No.” We come up with excuses, and we dance around the subject.
We are afraid of being seen as “not a nice person” if we say, “No,” so we
resist saying it. Just saying it will be a relief. Better to cut to the chase.
Other times, we feel resistance about something where it
would just be better if we quit resisting and gave in. For example, a friend of
mine suffers from acid reflux. His doctor told him he would have to take a
prescription medication for the rest of his life. He was not happy with that
response. At the time, he had insurance so he started to take the medication
but continued to look for alternatives. When he left his job, he no longer had
insurance to cover the prescription costs, and he was astounded at the
astronomical cost of the pills, but he realized when he didn’t take them, he
suffered. He resisted paying for them without insurance. In this case, he did
some research and found he could buy a generic brand that worked just as well
and cost only about 5% of what he paid for the prescription brand. He made the
switch to the generic brand, but he still resisted having to take pills. He
explored natural remedies for acid reflux, and while he found that some of them
helped a little, none helped as much as the pills. Over time, he found that
taking just one rather than two pills a day, and changes in his diet and using
some natural remedies balanced out so that he felt much better. Then he tried
to go off the pills completely, but after a couple of weeks, he was suffering
again. Finally, he realized he was resisting taking the pills, and considering
how little they cost and how much better they made him feel, it was no longer
worth the struggle to resist. Now he takes them and doesn’t give them another
thought. His resistance is gone and no longer saps energy he can use in other
Relationships are a big place where we have resistance. We
resist giving up our time. We resist spending time with family members we don’t
enjoy. Sometimes, we find if we do spend an afternoon with family, it wasn’t as
bad as we expected. Once we let go of the resistance, we can enjoy ourselves
and feel better.
Think of resistance as like a dam along a river. The dam is
there to stop the water from flowing. Too much water is a bad thing—it can
cause flooding—so some resistance, to what isn’t healthy, is good. But if the
dam holds back too much water, if we resist too much, the river dries up. If we
quit resisting, it’s much easier to float down the river. Finding the balance
so we can float downriver on an inner tube, rather than pushing a canoe through
shallow waters, or taking a wild rapids raft ride, is the key to dealing with resistance.
With balance, resistance is a great guide down the river.
We all have family stories. Some of us have heard rumors
that we’re descended from royalty or at least Mayflower Pilgrims. Some of those
stories might be true. Some might not be. More specifically, we might have
heard stories about more recent ancestors—grandparents or great-grandparents—we
have probably conceived notions about those people from the stories we have
heard about them, or stories they told us about themselves, and ultimately,
some of those stories may have helped us to define ourselves and to shape whom
we have become.
Recently, one of my friends told me about a family discovery
he made that changed how he viewed a lot of things. This friend grew up in a
family that had a lot of sexual hang-ups. Premarital sex was frowned on. People
needed to be morally responsible. His family, in a sense, sort of thought of
itself as better than others because it was more moral. There was clearly a
right and a wrong way to behave in relationships and especially in regards to
Then one day, while doing some genealogy research, he
happened to find out, not only that his great-grandparents had gotten married
because his great-grandfather had gotten his great-grandmother pregnant, but
that the man involved had not wanted to marry her and she had consequently had
him arrested and a judge and sheriff coerced the man into marrying her—this was
back in the late 1800s of course. The couple stayed married for the rest of
My friend had to laugh about the situation. His mother had
always been very prudish, as a direct result of her mother being so
over-protective. And his grandmother had equally been over-protected as a young
girl, so much so that the night her future husband proposed to her, she had a friend
with her because she was not allowed to go out on a date alone with a man.
And now it was revealed that that grandmother’s mother had
gotten herself pregnant out of wedlock. Had the family always then been
prudish, or had prudery developed from prudence? Doubtless, the
great-grandmother had not wanted to see her daughter caught in the same
situation she had been caught in. She may have been over-protective, but she
been strict with her daughter out of love. Only, over-protectiveness resulted
in what eventually became an unhealthy attitude about sex in the family.
That’s how many codependent and dysfunctional behaviors
happen in our families. Someone tries to compensate for something that went
wrong—he or she tries to protect or control out of fear based on personal
experience, and ultimately, the result is that codependent behaviors get passed
down in the family.
As for my friend, he is still laughing about what he learned
regarding his great-grandparents. “They were human!” he told me. They are more real
to him now than ever before considering they had both died long before he ever
knew them. This little tidbit of information about an event that happened over
a century ago has made him realize how much our family stories, or what we
think are our family stories, shape our identities. It also shows that the
family story we tell ourselves may not be completely accurate depending on what
information our older family members tell us and what they leave out for their
What family stories could you unearth that would help you to
put you and your family into perspective? Sometimes, the smallest piece of
information about a person can help us to see him or her in a totally different
light, and by extension, we come better to understand our own relationships
with family members.
Last week, I talked about “moving on” when a relationship
ends. At the same time, on a spiritual level, I don’t believe any relationship
truly ends. I am going out on a limb here, but from what I understand from all
the books and teachers out there about life-after-death, reincarnation, and
near-death experiences, all our relationships are actually sacred. A
relationship may end in this lifetime, but only because that is what is meant
to happen. I am not talking about predestination here, but simply about
We all know the phrase, “I saw my life flash before my
eyes.” We hear it in regards to someone who has experienced a dangerous
situation where his or her life was threatened. Several people who have claimed
to have near-death experiences explain that what this really means is that when
we die, we get to review our lives to see what we did or did not learn. In
other words, our lives were planned out before we came, and after life ends, we
get to analyze our lives to see how well we did in terms of what we intended to
Stay with me here. You may not believe in life after death,
or reincarnation or any of these things, but just consider for a minute what it
would mean if this belief were true.
Is it possible that our lives and the roles we play are no
different than being in a giant play with each of us as an actor following a
script, or perhaps more accurately ad-libbing our speeches based on some basic
parameters we’ve set before we entered these lives?
Spiritual teachers suggest that we make contracts with one
another before this life. We agree to be mother, brother, friend, spouse, enemy
to someone. We believe that by doing so, we will learn more in these
experiences. Consider the less desirable relation roles, such as an enemy, or
at least, a difficult sibling, or a friend who rejects us. Some spiritual
teachers have surmised that the people who hurt us in this life are the ones
who love us the most because they are willing to sacrifice themselves in that
way to make us learn and become stronger.
Rewriting the Script is not only about changing our
mindsets; it’s about understanding those mindsets and why certain roles,
people, experiences come into our lives.
Perhaps we have a falling out with a loved one, a drag down
fight with that person and we never speak to her again.
When this life has ended and we meet that person on the
other side, what’s the chance that we might pat each other on the back and have
a conversation that reads something like:
“How did I
do? Was I mean enough to you?”
wonderful. You’re breaking up with me really made me reprioritize my life. All
the good that followed I can attribute to the mean words you said when you
great. I’m glad I helped so much.”
You played the part great. I can’t thank you enough.”
“It was my
pleasure. I love you and I wanted to help you in the best way possible, no
matter how difficult it might have been for you during your life.”
Could such conversations happen in the next life after
death? No one truly knows, but it’s nice to consider the possibility. After
all, how often do we find that the worst moments in our lives led us to the
We all need a break now and then, whether it’s from our job,
our family, or our recovery work. We deserve to nurture, pamper, and reward
ourselves, not just once a year on a vacation but everyday.
People go on vacation to get away, but we don’t always have
that luxury. And while going on vacation can be a lot of fun, it can also be a
lot of work arranging flights and hotels, and just lugging the luggage
everywhere. Sometimes a quiet day or just a few minutes of quiet will do
wonders to restore our spirits and energy.
So take a mini-vacation. Perhaps you can’t sunbathe on a
Caribbean Island, but you can spend fifteen minutes lying on your bed,
imagining yourself on the beach. Try to smell the salty waves, listen for their
roar. Feel the sun warming your skin. Breathe it all in, relax, and enjoy
If you’re not imaginative enough to picture yourself on that
beach or anywhere else you want to be, find other ways to escape.
Put down your work and pick up a book—find something fun and
exotic—a lot of mystery novels will fulfill that need for you. Spend fifteen
minutes reading about being lost in a bazaar in Morocco, or on a Caribbean
mystery, or wherever your favorite detective might travel to solve a crime.
If you’re not a reader, escape from the house or office into
your own backyard—if not literally your backyard, then your neighborhood. Is
there a restaurant you’ve never tried, a store you’ve never visited that might
brighten up your day a bit. Visiting restaurants with foreign food—Chinese,
Thai, Mexican, French—can give you that feeling of escape and the exotic, a
little adventure to brighten your day.
Sometimes just a little thing can cheer us up—a piece of
candy, a favorite TV show, a walk around the block looking for things we never
noticed before. Let your mind escape by finding something new.
Here are a few more suggestions for your mini-escape:
Watch a sitcom in the middle of the day.
Go for a walk.
Go for a bike ride, but take a path you normally don’t take.
Visit a new restaurant.
Take a day trip.
Take off a day to lie on the beach.
Move your laptop to a different room—if you usually sit at
your desk or table, sit on your bed today.
Find some exotic music to listen to while you work.
Spend fifteen minutes online learning about a place you want
Take short one chapter reading breaks every 2-3 hours.
Send a postcard to a friend—even if it’s a postcard of your
town, it will feel like a vacation, and your friend will love to hear from you,
so you’ll brighten two people’s days.
Just fifteen or twenty minutes away from our daily tasks can
be a big boost to our energy and restore us. We will be more productive, more
relaxed, and more in touch with enjoying life by just allowing ourselves to
escape now and then.