As I am washing the dishes one evening after dinner, my mind begins to wander. I remember it like it was yesterday.
All of a sudden, I am back in Mr. Hamilton’s class in the 4th grade. Jack, one of my classmates, is chewing gum in class. Mr. Hamilton didn’t allow us to chew gum in class. While he is teaching, Mr. Hamilton notices Jack and stops his lesson. He directs everyone’s attention to Jack, who has now been asked to stand.
Jack’s punishment is to take the gum out of his mouth and wear it on his nose for the rest of the school day.
My heart sinks through the floor. I watch in agony as Jack takes the gum out of his mouth and balls it up with his fingers. Then he squishes it onto his nose, where it sticks for the rest of the afternoon.
I’m not sure how I processed what happened in the moment, but looking back as an adult, I now know that I felt humiliated, bullied, victimized, and deeply offended; all on Jack’s behalf.
As I stand there washing dishes at the sink, I am fully immersed in my 9 year old body, experiencing all those emotions, like they’re happening for the first time, right now, in this moment.
The power of the mind is amazing.
A couple months ago, I connected with an old high school friend on FaceBook. I tell him this story. Unbeknownst to me, he still sees Jack on occasion and relays my story. Several weeks later, I get a message back from my FaceBook friend. He tells me that Jack had no recollection of that day in Mr. Hamilton’s class. He can’t remember the gum on the nose incident and had a good laugh at my story.
Ummm . . . . what??!!! How can this possibly be? I am devastated.
I was only a bystander in the gum incident. How could this have been such a heavy drag on my soul all these decades later, while Jack, the recipient of the humiliation, didn’t remember it? How could he be oblivious to something so painful that happened to him, while I’ve been holding onto it for decades???
That day when my FaceBook friend relayed Jack’s response to my story, I had a huge “a-Ha” moment. I realized that my mind held onto that story for all those years because of what I made it mean.
The real eye-opener was that it didn’t mean the same thing to Jack. In fact, he never thought about it again!
This idea was so incredibly freeing to me and was the turning point that got me started on my path to personal development. I specifically wanted to learn about my mind and how it worked so that I could move forward faster in my life.
Here’s the backstory: For a long time, I’ve felt that I was supposed to do something bigger with my life. I never knew what that meant, or how it’d play out, but the day I heard Jack’s response to what I had thought was a humiliating experience, I realized that my mind was creating my experience of life.
I held onto that 4th grade experience and made it mean something; the consequences of not following rules, how to treat another human being, how to handle a “teaching moment” skillfully instead of using shame, etc.
I threw myself into my inner work. I read lots of books, took online workshops and attended trainings. I dug deeper and uncovered many stories I was holding onto. Jack’s gum chewing story was only a small piece of the puzzle. All the stories went back to my youth. I started to track them. I figured out how they all connected and began to process where these ideas showed up in my adult life, and very importantly, what I was still making them mean.
The mere fact that I was an adult washing dishes at the sink while my mind was focusing on 4th grade was a huge neon flashing sign that I was stuck in what I made that story mean.
The real moment of “a-Ha-ness,” true liberation actually, was when I realized my stories were a choice. I could choose to carry them around with me and live my life from that place. Or, I could what I now affectionately call “pull a Jack” and release them . . . It was totally my choice.
Jack has no idea the impact that his gum chewing, and subsequent lack of meaning he gave it, has had on me. Ultimately, this story isn’t really about Jack at all. It’s about my mind and how it works.
Over the years, I’ve sought out many coaches, trainers and mentors who have helped me get to this emotionally healthy, confident and empowered place that I am now. Although I occasionally hit road blocks in life, I can now more easily identify and maneuver around them on my own.
Watching my thoughts and choosing which to believe has been the best gift I’ve given myself.
One thing that I know for sure is that a great life coach models all this for his/her clients: how to unravel what we are making our stories mean, and choosing to believe them, challenge them, or let them go.
I am a certified life coach specializing in the area of mindset. My clients come to me with issues ranging from relationships, confidence, self-esteem, overwhelm, procrastination, creating healthy habits, lack of direction, goal setting and accountability, etc.
All these things live inside the mind.
I get so much satisfaction and fulfillment by supporting them on their journey of self-discovery and choosing which of their stories serve them, and which do not. I realize now that “the bigger” thing I was meant to do in my life was serve others in this way.
Freeing myself from the confines of my own mind, has enabled me to live the life I was meant to live. I am now supporting others in their liberation from what is holding them back.
It all begins and ends in the mind.