Are you Surviving or Thriving?Tuesday, August 24, 2010 14:05
By Ellen Brown
Do you ever feel like you’re just getting by in life? Surviving, rather than thriving?
I certainly felt that way many years ago, and last week, I “sat down” with my friends Dan Hays and Stash Serafin to discuss the topic of thriving (opposed to surviving) on our Blog Talk Radio show, Dialogues with Dignity.
After our roundtable discussion last week, I started thinking about how I’d been able to thrive after spending many years healing from child sexual abuse. Because it wasn’t quite clear to me, and there certainly wasn’t some magical line I crossed over from victim to survivor to thriver. Yet somehow I DID transcend my past; there is no denying it.
So how did I make that shift? I’ve found many tools for thriving along my journey, but one of the big things is that I spent several years processing the feelings that bubbled after the memories of abuse surfaced. I cried. I raged. I told and retold my “story” countless times to therapists and groups and even to total strangers, at one point, I’m embarrassed to admit. Until I was sick and tired of that story. Bored of telling it, bored of hearing it and sick of blaming others for the circumstances of my life.
I can’t remember if the boredom set in gradually or not. But I do remember attending a healing workshop one day, years ago, and hearing myself , once more, relate the story of how I had been abused when I was young in great detail. Then, something shifted inside, and it suddenly felt as though my “true self” was witnessing the whole scene from a distance. I heard a voice inside say , “oh brother. Not again. This is sooooo boooorring….”
It was as though I could no longer stand describing myself that way. There was no denying that I had been abused. There was no denying that the abuse affected me in profound ways. But on that day, something shifted in me, and I refused to think of myself in that small and limiting way. While it was convenient for me to blame others — including my mother – for hurting me and “ruining my life,” doing so was keeping me stuck. I’d allowed my story to keep me down in the dark abyss of despair. And I was tired of living down there. It was familiar, yes, but oh so dreary and oppressive.
That day, I felt a warmth starting in my abdomen and growing larger, swirling and pulsing. Hopeful and powerful. Urging me forward.
On that day, I promised myself that I’d never again use my “survivor label” as a badge of honor. I was a survivor, yes, but so much more than that, and I was tired of defining myself by that label. Tired of blaming the people in my life who had hurt me when I was young for my problems today. That day, I made a promise to myself to stop defining myself by what happened to me in my childhood and to take responsibility for my life. So I could thrive.
So, how about YOU? Are you surviving rather than thriving? Or have you found a way to thrive?
I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment, here, on Stepping Stones, by scrolling down to the bottom of the page.
Are you dealing with job loss, the death of a loved one, or another challenging life transition? If so, I’d love to help out. Visit my website at http://www.ellen-brown.com to sign up for an introductory coaching session or a coaching package that’s right for you. Since coaching sessions are conducted by phone, I can work with clients anywhere in the world.
If you’d like to hear more about the benefits of thriving, check out one of our recent episodes of Dialogues with Dignity, in which we discuss that very topic:
Ellen Brown is a certified professional coach based in Cleveland, OH.