I recently told my therapist that I’m not a huge fan of my job. I said I’m a forty five year old man and I should be making more money.
“How would you do that?” my therapist asked.
I told him I needed to get a job that pays more money.
“But how?” he asked again. He reminded me that this is where I usually get stuck. With the “how”.
I told him that I didn’t know. That I was still trying to figure that out.
“So what is it going to take for you to figure that out?” he asked. “Because you’ve had this conundrum since I met you.”
I told him that I wanted to help people through my personal experiences.
“That’s great so why don’t you go back to school and become a therapist?” he asked.
My therapy session was starting to make me feel uncomfortable. I told him I didn’t want to go back to school.
“But what if going back to school gave you the skills to cultivate something that ended up in huge payoffs for you?” he asked.
You have to stop. This is starting to feel like my dad when I was a kid.
“How so?” he asked.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” my father asked.
His question caught me off guard. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be. I just knew I had to get to the bus stop for school so I told him I didn’t know.
“I don’t know isn’t an answer” he said with a raised voice.
I felt my body tense up. My mind raced around for the correct answer but the truth was I didn’t know. How the heck could I. I was ten years old.
“What do you want to be when you grow up!?” he asked even louder.
He was doing it again. Getting in my face. Backing me into a corner by the kitchen counter. I told him I didn’t know.
“NO! WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP!?” he screamed at the top of his lungs.
Why won’t he believe me when I tell him I don’t know? Why isn’t my not knowing good enough for him? Please stop yelling at me. Please.
I was terrified.
My therapist understood why I stopped him.
“Zach, the ability to choose the course of your life and have pride in it was taken from you that morning” he said.
Tears rolled down my face. I had touched a childhood wound.
He told me that deciding the course of my life, meaning my career, is coupled with threat and fear because my dad literally turned it into a threat. He said my little developing brain couldn’t separate the two. Danger! Freeze! It was PTSD that was downloaded into my nervous system.
My therapy session was valuable insight as to why I’ve always struggled in this area of my life. In a way it’s like I never left home. I’m still that scared ten year old little boy paralyzed with fear.
And you know what… that no longer works for me. I have allowed fear to control this part of my life for as long as I can remember and I’m done. I can’t do it anymore. It will kill me if I don’t put a stop to it.
Truth. When I first started writing this article I wanted to share my Lake Arrowhead experience with you because I knew I would get sympathy from some of you. Sympathy because I went through something so horrible as a child. That’s me clinging to my past and staying in my old story.
Unfortunately, a lot of us are bound by the invisible chains of our childhood conditioning. We hang on to our stories because we think they make us relevant in the world but look at how far that’s gotten us.
Enough is enough. We might have had shitty childhoods but that doesn’t mean we have to be our shitty childhoods. It’s really that simple.
Now is the time for new action. We must take action that pushes us out of our current life circumstances. Action in the right direction can transform our beliefs. Remember, if nothing changes, nothing is going to change. Whatever you believe right now it’s because you have proof of it. So change that.
And remember this. Every time we avoid something because of fear we gain another experience of failure which in turn is another piece of evidence that says we can’t do something. Stop swimming in that murky pond and jump in the big beautiful ocean and allow something higher to show up in your life.
Parting words of encouragement-
When I stop and think about it my brain and nervous system did what it had to do in order to survive when I was a child. If you think about it, it actually did everything right. My dad wasn’t doing everything right but I was. I harnessed my survival mechanism and said this is a threat. It’s like when you put your hand on a fire and burn it you’re going to stop doing that. It’s the same mechanism.
If you went through something similar as a child please know that your painful experience doesn’t have to be your painful life. Moving beyond your childhood wounds can become your ultimate strength. If you allow it. You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. Thank your inner child for doing such an amazing job when you were little. Love that side of you. It made you into the wonderful person that you are today.