Letting Go Of The Past To Re-Parent The Self
By Debbie Eisenstadt Mandel
Inside every individual exists a powerful capacity for healing and transformation—to stand up for the true self. To accomplish this we have to free ourselves from the past story. When we release old hurts, we grow from that suffering and learn to recognize happiness. In other words, we let go to hold more! If the past has been painful, we must stop reliving it, playing the part of the victim in the story over and over again. Every time we relive a memory, especially a past argument, or an old hurt, we keep it alive in our spirits and in our bodies. For example, when I think about an argument I had with a friend many years ago, my heart will race, my face will flush and my stomach will tense up as though it were happening now. Not everyone is fortunate to have loving parents who are perfect and reasonable, like on TV.
Some of us were physically and mentally abused as children. Some of us were neglected and emotionally abandoned as children. Therefore it is time to change the story and re-parent the self! We are no longer children who are economically and physically dependent on our parents. We had no choice as a child, but we do now…
When we re-parent the self, we send a message to the mind and body that we are worth it, that we are special and that we deserve love. When a child is abused, he or she lives in a dark place where there is no room to breathe or feel. This child grows up lacking self-esteem, feeling worthless and always looking for approval from parents and outside sources. Often the abuse experienced in childhood gets repeated in adult life using different characters: a lover, a boss or even a so-called friend. The adult continues to play the victim, hardly ever assuming responsibility for failures. “The boss doesn’t like me,” “My wife demands things I can’t afford,” “My co-worker set me up.”
Therefore in order to break the cycle, one has to shed the past story and create the present story. In the new story the abused child is determined not just to survive, but to thrive. He or she assumes responsibility for actions, is committed to health and fitness, and finds the way to realize limitations while cultivating capabilities. Easier said than done? Well, saying it and thinking it is a good beginning. Everyday one has to make a commitment to positive thinking. It is neither the win nor the loss that makes a person triumphant, only the feelings and perception one has regarding the self. Positive perception and self-affirmation is the first step to personal empowerment: I am good enough.
The next step is believing that one is lucky. Yes, lucky! The opposite perception of the victim. When one is lucky, even when one fails, he or she learns from failure or suffering to succeed in the future. When one is lucky he or she sees opportunities where other people do not even think to look. In some of my wellness workshops I have heard cancer survivors admit to the group, “I am lucky to have had cancer because now I know how to live and I really appreciate life!” A lucky person feels empowered and in control. When one believes in the self, he or she can banish self-doubts, persist in set goals, and clear the path for accomplishment.
There is a Zen story of a great general who was fighting a terrible battle where his troops were outnumbered ten to one. The soldiers were frightened convinced that they would lose because they were physically outnumbered. The general turned to his men and announced that he would flip his magic coin. If it fell on heads, they would fight. If it fell on tails, they would return home. The general tossed the coin in the air and it fell on heads. The men felt that destiny was on their side, fought valiantly and won. Afterwards, the second in command discussed the event with the general, delighted that fortune smiled on their little army. The general handed the coin over to him. The second in command saw that it was heads on both sides. Because the men believed in their luck, they were victorious.
In addition to positive belief and the elimination of negative self-talk, we need to live in balance. That means eating balanced meals, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding sugar, fat and processed foods. Also, we need to get seven or eight hours sleep to reset our biological clocks daily and regenerate cells. Most importantly we need to do some physical exercise every day to build up strength, stamina and focus. When we exercise, we are empowered people of substance. We will not feel trapped, paralyzed or allow ourselves to be abused because now we have strengthened our bones, muscles, heart and lungs. A sound mind needs a sound body. By living in balance physically and emotionally, we shed stress. An abused child often grows up to be a short-fused adult who experiences stress and irritability more easily than others. Exercise relieves stress by burning up stress hormones, releasing endorphins and oxygenating the brain to think more clearly. Exercise also returns one to the present moment and away from the past!
Lastly, after one eats balanced meals, gets his sleep and exercise, one can create inner peace through meditation. A simple five-minute meditation to music can help one get in touch with the still point. Through meditation one relaxes the heart, lowers blood pressure and restores loving feelings to the soul. Begin meditation by breathing deeply through the nose to your own rhythm. I recommend inhaling two counts, and exhaling four counts. That way you exhale more toxins. By focusing your attention on your breath, you redirect your mind to the present. When you close your eyes to meditate, you just watch your thoughts float by and do not judge them. Sometimes you will receive guidance through an image, a color, a word, or later in a dream. Some people like to meditate on a passage from the Bible or a literary work. So, before you begin to meditate, you might want to read a quote or affirmation and then think about it while you are breathing with your eyes closed.
Living in balance physically, emotionally and spiritually is the source of energy and joy. Be kind to yourself everyday and create personal time and space. If you are too busy, then get rid of some of your activities, prioritize. We have compassion for others, even our pets. Make sure that you have compassion for yourself.
Debbie Eisenstadt Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer at Brooklyn College. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WLIR 92.7 FM in New York City and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com