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Genre - Self-Help, Life Transformation
Rating - PG
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At the end of every chapter in Living the Life You Love: The No-Nonsense Guide to Total Transformation, there is a workbook exercise called a Transformation Insight. Page 99 in the paperback version is the first page of the insight exercises for Chapter 11, which is one of the more lengthy sections in the book. It starts with three questions, so, I decided to back up and give you the lead-in text for background.
Speaking of background, mine is a bit eclectic. As you may know, I'm an award-winning author of both fiction (literary award) and nonfiction (four national book awards). I actually started out writing novels--Hot Enough to Kill by Paula Boyd is a humorous mystery and my first book in print. It seems like a strange combination, doesn't it--self-help and funny murder mysteries? Well, not so strange after you've read them. Turns out, I was just writing the "what not to do" side of thing first, since Jolene is the poster child for needing self-help and her mother Lucille is a fine example of why.
Which is a really interesting note, since the excerpt below is from the chapter in Living the Life You Love titled, The Family That Plays Together… with the subheading Mommy Dearest. It's about facing up to reality and getting clear on what your real issues with your parents are--and what to do about them. This section is talking about writing a letter to your mother to tell her how she screwed up your life--a "get it out and own it" kind of thing. When fictional Jolene has to deal with her mommy baggage, it's pretty funny. It's not so funny when you're facing down your own demons for real.
Living the Life You Love has been called "tough love from a BFF," and this page gives a good example of that kind of frank, no-nonsense talk. The book has a lot of my personal stories and examples in it as well. This particular page follows some of my own revelations--and regrets--about being a daughter and a mother. Here it is:
Remember, you didn’t come up with your wounds by accident, and your mom could still be protecting herself from a version of the same pain you have. You can’t expect to get understanding and validation of your pain from the very person you blame for creating it. Unless she’s done her own work, odds are that your mom’s own fragile self-concept will demand that she convince you that you’re wrong to feel as you do. So, be very careful if you choose to go there. You don’t have to.
The letter writing is for you—to clear your slate and make peace. Your parents may have helped create your baggage, but you are the only one who decides whether you keep dragging it around with you. As we talked about earlier in the chapter, you don’t need anyone’s approval, validation, cooperation or even awareness in order to heal. You’ve got everything you need to take care of that yourself.
You can’t get from another person what you can only give yourself, so look at your letter carefully and see what you’re really needing. Read between the lines and find the deeper meaning of your requests. If you want an apology, why? Do you think if your mom says she’s sorry she wasn’t there for you or didn’t love you in the ways you needed, you’ll know that it wasn’t your fault—that you really were lovable and worthy of being cherished? Do you think if she admits she didn’t protect you, you’ll forgive yourself for not being able to? Will you finally believe that you’ve always been worth protecting? Will you finally feel worthy and lovable just because you’re you? Feel it anyway.
When you break free of needing something from your mom to feel okay about yourself, you change the whole dynamics of the relationship. Since you no longer want something from her, there’s nothing for her to resist. She can still feel defensive and in pain—that’s her deal and her choice—but you won’t be feeding into it. It won’t tie you up in emotional knots. It won’t control your life anymore.
And the really great thing is that when you heal, you won’t pass along those old patterns and pain to your children. So, make a vow right now to stop that family tradition and start a new one—giving yourself what you’ve spent your whole life waiting to get from others. Pass that on!
TRANSFORMATION INSIGHT 11
Here are a few questions to help you gain some insights into your family dynamics. Ignore the fact that you know you need to give these things to yourself and explore how you might get it from others. It sounds counterintuitive, but it isn’t. Once you are honest about what you need from others—or thought you did—you will have a much better idea of what to do for yourself. Get as petty as possible. There is nothing too small to address. If you feel it, acknowledge it.
1. What is the one thing you feel like you never get (e.g., validation, support, unconditional love, acknowledgement of your ideas/skills/creativity, feeling special)?
2. How do you feel because you don’t get that?
3. How do you think you would feel if you did?
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So, there you have it! A little self-insight opportunity if you're feeling so inclined.
I find it fascinating that my fiction and nonfiction books both address a lot of the same issues, just from different viewpoints. It's funny to watch a fictional character struggle with familiar trials and tribulations, but it's even more fun to be free of all that angst-inducing stuff in your own life--to not be held back by old wounds and limiting beliefs.
And that's the great part--you can be free of the drama, turmoil, self-limitations and self-defeating behaviors if you want to be. The questions in the Transformation Insight are just a glimpse at how you can start digging into your own stuff to get to the bottom line and clear it out. Give it a try and write down every thought that comes up, you'll be amazed at what you'll discover about yourself. And, you'll probably want to know more!
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Paula Renaye is a five-time award-winning author, certified professional coach and transformational speaker. She is a frequent tough-love expert on talk radio shows and in print media, and her television appearances include BookTV. Writing as Paula Boyd, she and her award-winning Jolene Jackson Mystery Series have been featured in Redbook, Mountain Living, San Antonio Woman, Romantic Times, Colorado Homes and Living and many others. For more tips on how to live a life you love and to learn more about Paula Renaye and her work, visit www.paularenaye.com.
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