What’s made you who you are today?

Here’s a question for you.

What events in your life have made you who you are today?

And whilst you’re thinking, here’s some help;

Take blank sheet of paper; draw a line down the middle.

On the left write “failure, shame, disaster, loss, challenge.

And on the right write “success, happiness, pleasure, fulfilment, joy”.

Ask yourself, where would I like my life to be?

On the right of course, you’re human, so you want all those wonderful things.

And, being human you spend your life wishing and hoping that those on the left don’t happen. You go out of your way to avoid them, and when they do happen, you do whatever you can to pretend they didn’t. That’s the bad column; we can agree that.

Okay, so now go back to the question and name the top three events in your life that shaped you and made you the woman you are now.  

Every single one of them is in the left column.

Yes they are.

My three are: Coming to terms with being childless, losing my parents and writing my book.

(Now I hope that my book doesn’t come into the ‘failure or disaster’ category, but writing it is certainly really challenging me in so many ways).

I had this conversation recently with a good friend and she was sceptical at first, citing so many lovely and happy experiences from her childhood. After a few moments though she changed her mind and we concluded that what happens in your childhood is important, and maybe it gives you a foundation and determine how you deal with the challenging events. And it’s your response to the challenging events that really shape who you are.

What are your top three?

I’ll take a wild guess and suggest that coming to terms with being childless is also in your top three. I think we can all agree that it definitely belongs in the left column. So the question now becomes:

Exactly HOW is being childless shaping you?

Let’s use two options here too, so

Is it shaping you into someone who is sad, sees themselves as a victim, who’s depressed, angry, and stuck in a negative place?

Or are you starting to see the light, can you see that there are positives in your life, and that you can have a fulfilling life? 

(If you absolutely believe there’s NOTHING positive about being childless, let me reassure you that this is absolutely normal, we’ve all thought that. The key is to realise that it’s not true and not to stay there too long. And if that’s you, reading a few of my Inspirational Stories will definitely help).

A bit of theory

In researching the final section of my book, which is loosely called ‘The Gifts’ I read Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Option B.’ In it she talks about ‘Post Traumatic Growth’ where some people experience  something positive in their lives following a traumatic event.

Instead of bouncing back to where they were before, they ‘bounced forward’ and described at least one positive outcome in their lives following loss.

I think we can all agree that being childless (both what you went through and coming to terms with your life now) certainly shapes you. So the question now becomes how can your experience shape you so that you bounce forward?

My story – changing myself 

This quote from Holocaust survivor Viktor E. Frankl sums up my story.

I spent ten years being sad and stuck in that negative place not believing that I could have a fulfilling life. I got to the point where I’d had enough, I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew that I didn’t want to stay stuck anymore.  Learning NLP was the first step I took, and there have been many since.

The importance of role models

All the story tellers featured in my book and here talk about the growth they’ve experienced as a result of being childless. And the growth didn’t happen automatically.

We all grew because we accepted both being childless and the challenge to change ourselves. We grieved and in time growth emerged in many different ways.

I also believe in this.

When I was struggling, there were so few resources available for us, and certainly no childless role models. There’s so much more now and I encourage you to make a start by reading some of the Inspirational Stories.

Maybe you’re feeling some hesitation or reluctance to change so here’s a final quote for you to ponder. I know his to be true.

And actually, what have you got to lose?

This exercise was created by Rob Bell, I haven’t been able to find the original; I heard Elizabeth Gilbert explain it.

What did you think?

What did you think of the questions? What are your top three things?

How is being childless shaping you & how would you like it to?

Please share your experience by adding a comment (you don’t have to use your own name),

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