Dear Dr. Norquist:
I feel like I have a black cloud following me around. Life has always been hard. My father left when I was young, so I had to help raise my siblings. Then I married young and my husband left me raising my son alone. Now he’s grown and you’d think I’d be free to enjoy my life, but I’ve started having a lot of health problems. Do you think some people are just born unlucky? Why do I have to deal with all of this when other people I know haven’t had to go through the difficulties that I have endured? It feels like I was dealt a bad hand.
Dr. Norquist responds:
We all unconsciously weave the important events of our lives into a story that makes sense to us. The story that you have created for yourself is one of being the unlucky recipient of unjust burdens and hardships. Yes, this story makes sense.
However, it is not the only story that could be woven from the events of your life. The story that you create determines your inner experience. How does life feel if you are unlucky, unjustly burdened and followed by a black cloud? On the other hand, how does life feel if you see yourself as strong and capable, having competently mastered the challenges that life has offered you? Picture yourself in each of these story lines. The events are the same, but the life experiences are worlds apart. The beauty is that you can choose any story interpretation that you’d like.
As an exercise, I invite you to view the events of your life from a new perspective, and to write a new story for yourself. Create a story that turns burdens into blessings, victimization into empowerment, unlucky into fortunate, black clouds into opportunities. You do have the power to rewrite your life. The more you live into your new story, your new interpretation of your life, the more your daily experience of your life will change. Consciously choose how to create your story and tell it to yourself and others. As you come to believe it, it will be true for you, and you will no longer feel that you were dealt a bad hand.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken. Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2013 Chaitanya Counseling Services