It’s time to change the movie trailer in my mind. For far too long, some of the images that I’ve carried around just don’t support the truth of who I am and who I’m becoming. The painting above is a great example of that. This is a mixed-media piece I did back in about 1987. For lack of a better title, and since it reflected how I felt when I painted it, I called it ‘Self Portrait’. If this were an image in the previews to the movie of my life, imagine the film that would follow.
Though most previews intend to lure one in to want to watch a film, the movie trailer in my mind to the film of my parenting life is loaded with all of my most horrific parenting moments. Every metaphorical explosion, chase scene, stinging word, monster mama bits – all those snippets run over and over again in my mind and remind me of a film I’d never want to see, let alone star in.
My mom told me the other day that I was a good mom. Rather than thanking her, I pushed her words away. I’d told her about a recent parenting moment, and she said, “See… that was good!” She went on to tell me what a good mom I’d been when my kids were little: how I got down on the floor and played with them, read to them, and was creative with them. She knows I’ve often seen myself as being a ‘terrible mother’. My brilliant mom continued to tell me that the only one who has ever seen me as a terrible mother is me — I have successfully created all of my own delusions of bad parenting in my own mind. NO ONE ELSE PUT THEM IN MY HEAD BUT ME.
What the heck? Why would I do that to myself? …or to my kids? It doesn’t serve anyone at all to have that script running. It certainly doesn’t help me become the parent I want to be for my children.
This sent me on a quest for new images. I found boxes filled with photos of happy children – MY happy children! There were countless images from adventures we shared, cute things they did, ways they’ve been celebrated. There wasn’t one photo that could be used as evidence to back up my ‘terrible mother’ belief. Fancy that. Of course, I have made mistakes (some real whoppers too), but it’s clear I won’t win the Oscar for worst mother of all time.
In 15 years of coaching, I’ve worked with people from so many different walks of life. It seems they all have something… some area of their lives where they’ve made up a story about how inadequate they are. For some, it’s about not being enough in some way. For others, it’s about not being able to create the life they envision is possible. You can imagine all the different stories and limiting beliefs: not pretty/handsome enough, not loving/open/capable enough, too emotional/beautiful/charming to be really seen, too wounded/damaged/broken to thrive. When I work with them and see their beauty, magnificence, capacity, and brilliance, I see so clearly that the movie trailers they have in their minds don’t lead to the amazing beings I see shining brightly before me.
How do we get our trailer/preview to match the movie of our actual lives? How do we represent our authentic selves to the world and, more importantly, to our selves? How do we break the pattern of running a script that doesn’t empower us or develop us into the people we’re meant to become? How do we make sure the failures in our lives aren’t the only thing we capture on our mind’s film?
That’s a lot of ‘How do we’ questions with no answers yet. I know I could muster some up and give you ‘Helen’s top ten tips for changing your script’, but I’d much rather co-create it with you. I have some blind spots here. What do you do to shift this for yourself? Or, if you’re a coach, how do you shift this with your clients?
With curiosity and hope,