I was bullied a lot at school. I had red hair, glasses and crooked teeth (I still am the proud owner of 2 out of those 3). I was a target. My self-esteem was pretty low. I didn’t like to draw attention to myself in any way. So I stayed pretty quiet. However, I loved languages, particularly English, and so when I was 15 I put myself forward to speak at the school Christmas assembly. After speaking with my teacher, I decided to go for it. It was held offsite in a huge church. There were “out of school visitors”. Basically, it was a big deal. Yet, I felt relaxed about it, I was looking forward to it. I had practiced my speech many times, and was raring to go. But then, through no fault of my own, I tripped over my words. It was just one of those things. Except, it didn’t happen just once, but several times. There were mutters throughout the rows of pupils, they were laughing at me, and I was aware of the disapproving glare of the headmistress. I felt silly, I could feel myself going redder and redder, just desperate for it to end.
In a few minutes I had gone from feeling proud to feeling stupid. I vowed never to put myself forward for anything like that again.
This is a story of mine, in fact its more than that, its one of many pivotal moments. A moment where I started to live by something that kept me small for a long time. That story was that I should just keep my mouth shut to avoid ridicule and letting anyone down.
A few minutes of a School assembly and thats what happened. A narrative was written, and it silently dictated large swathes of my future. That’s one story of many, one of many that I have since unpicked, made sense of and made peace with. Its one that involved me giving that 15 year old version of me a hug and letting her know that she did good, that she was courageous for putting herself out there. She didn’t let anyone down, and that she was never responsible for how other people reacted that day.
Now, your stories from when you were younger will all be different, but nevertheless, they are there, and they are holding you back in ways to may not even have realised. By revisiting that story, understanding and changing the meaning you make of it, and by reconnecting with that part of yourself, you can start to become more you, to step forward in the world on a path that you choose. Its hugely powerful, and sits at the forefront of the work that I do now with my 1:1 clients.
Think about a story that might be holding you back, take a deep breath and dive in as far as feels safe. Open your heart to your past self, and watch the future blossom.