In the eighties, we used to have our cassette tapes and once we had a favorite song, we would rewind it over and over again until we knew the words by heart. There are songs to this day that come on the XM station and NOBODY better touch the dial because they are playing my song.
We also have tapes in our heads. There are phrases we say or have been told by others over and over again in our lives that we play in our minds. Mine were not good. They were not good at all. It is amazing how words can shred your entire life apart. Here are some:
- “You are crazy.”
- “You did it on purpose.”
- “What is wrong with you?”
- “You are fat.”
- “You are a bitch. A crazy bitch.”
- “You can’t get anything right.”
The Bible talks about renewing your mind and I recently had a conversation with a former student about what this looks like and what it entails. Nobody talks about this, they just tell you to do it. It is a long and complicated process and maybe this explanation can help you.
Learning is very complicated. Every teacher knows this. There is learning that you are born with which is instinctive and teaches you naturally about the world around you. There is also conditioned learning. Conditioned learning is what we are taught from others about the outside world and who we are. It is our processes, skills, concepts, and habits.
When I faced adversity, pain, or anything challenging I have always regressed to my younger self and the things I thought to be true. You are not good. You are not valued. You cannot do it. Just quit. There have been many points in my life where these thoughts have won. There have also been many points in my life where I have overcome these thoughts to prove myself and others wrong. In those moments, I win. Success then begins to unravel the fact that those voices are not always truthful.
Breaking addiction, unhealthy habits, and detrimental thoughts can leave our lives in ashes. Unlearning these behaviors and voices takes time, effort, and commitment. It does not happen in an instant. Unlearning can take your entire life. Unlearning can mean that you appear selfish to others because you no longer participate in their deception. Unlearning can mean pulling back from the things you know to figure out what is real and what has been manipulated to serve the purpose of others. Unlearning is not valued because it takes energy that not everyone sees. Unlearning means that you make room for healthier ideas and thoughts.
I like to think of unlearning as how we paint a new room. We often have to get rid of the old wallpaper, paint, or dirt before we can begin. The ridding of the old takes more time than the painting of the new. Painting beauty with ashes means you may spend a lot of your time in the ashes. In the ashes is where you begin to learn what is real and who you really are.
As a mom and woman, words are very powerful in our girl’s lives and our lives as well. I talk to women and girls all of the time. I meet with them one on one usually to be an ear or a person that can connect to some of the pain that they have experienced. The common thread in many of our lives is the battle in our mind and our expectations of how everything should be. War is raged there with many a woman in our minds. We do not show it, but it is there on a daily basis.
At 44, I need an upgrade. The tapes no longer serve their purpose to me. I have been diligently working on this upgrade. This process is messy and time consuming. I am examining all of the ongoing conversations in my head that have shaped my life and the relationships from which they came. Some are good. Some are not. I do not think those tapes will ever go away, but I am listening to new tapes…slowly…on a USB drive. I am listening to the words that breathe life and not death.
“Nik…the sun will come up tomorrow, what will you do with it? ~from my dad”
“Walk through the pain. Through the pain you become stronger. ~me”
“Your mess is your message. ~unknown”
“…but they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings like eagles…~ Isaiah 40:31”
I write the words now. As I raise 2 daughters, I want truth and love to be known. We are getting there. Destructive thoughts come from destructive relationships, even the relationship we have with ourselves. I can promote healthy relationships but they will have to find their words. They will need to find them in their experiences, perceptions, and relationship with God. I hope I can help. I can model the process but I must watch them work through this process and their own pain. I want them to write their own words and their own song before the age of 40.
Oh listen…what was that? They are playing my new song….turn it up! It is time to jam!!!