“When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.” ~Brené Brown
There was a time when I felt really sorry for myself. I had good reason to be. My life had been grim. There had been so much tragedy in my life from a young age. I had lost all my grandparents young, lived in a home with alcoholism and domestic abuse, and to top it all off, my dad killed himself.
I could write you a long list of how life did me wrong. I threw myself a pity party daily in my thirties, with a load of food and wine. The story I was telling myself was that all this bad stuff had happened and I was unlucky in life and love. I told myself my life was doomed.
I believed if there was a God, he must have hated me because everybody around me had a perfect-looking life compared to me.
I felt like I was the only person who felt like this and couldn’t see any goodness in my life. I kept telling myself I was destined to be lonely and unfulfilled in my work life because I was just not good enough.
I took care of others in my family to give myself purpose, but inside I loathed it. It made me bitter and resentful. I didn’t do these things because I wanted to. I did them because I felt like I had to.
I thought this was who I was meant to be—the side act in everyone else’s story.
My peers were moving on with their lives, getting married, having babies, and buying houses. I was stuck in my pity party, in the sadness of the past, unable to move on. I felt like I did as a child—powerless, out of control of my life, and sad.
For as long as I could remember I felt anxiety and sadness. I would distract myself from these uncomfortable feelings with other people, TV, busyness, food, and later in life, alcohol.
I was a victim in childhood and then I continued to live as a victim into my thirties, blaming everyone else and God for my poor start in life. I blamed myself as well. If only I was enough, then my life would better.
There came a time when I couldn’t carry on the way I had been and had to take responsibility for my own life. My own story. It was time to get out of my own way. I was hitting rock bottom, and the time had come to either fight for my own happiness or follow the road my dad had taken.
My life felt pointless, but I finally listened to a voice within me that told me there was a way forward and got out of my own way.
This was the start of my spiritual and healing journey.
It all started with a simple internet search on how to feel better—mind, body, and soul.
Amongst the tips I found was the suggestion to practice daily gratitude. I started by writing down everything I had in that moment.
For a long time, I focused on all I didn’t have rather than what I did. But I had so much—great friendships, travel, love, a well-paid job, a nice home, and so much more. I ignored all the good stuff and it robbed me of what I did have. The present moment. But now my eyes were opening to all the light in my life.
I began to see and appreciate sunsets and sunrises. I looked for the good everywhere. Even in the darkness. I was searching for the light in every day. The more I looked the more I found.
I practiced gratitude when I found new information and practices. Podcasts, books, teachers, healers, therapy, and so much more. The more I said thank you, the more good things I found.
The story I was telling myself was changing.
Then I added meditation and mindfulness to my daily routine and began hearing my intuition more.
Before all I could hear was my fear, but this inner whisper was getting louder. Ideas would pop into my head like “I just don’t love myself,” and then I would see a quote from Louise Hay that resonated on social media. One led me to her book You Can Heal Your Life. I implemented the strategies in her book and then more tiny steps occurred to me in the quiet.
I said thank you every single time. I felt more supported by myself and the universe and less like a victim in my story.
The better I felt on the inside, the more opportunities I noticed. I saw a job I liked advertised and rather than letting fear stop me, I listened to my intuition, which guided me “to just try.”
In the past I would have ignored it and thought “I wish.” This time I just went for it. Just like that I left a toxic work environment for a job more aligned with my values, offering more money.
I attracted better relationships and in time found love. After searching for more ways to feel good on the inside and change the way I saw my life and my world, I incorporated daily affirmations and walks in nature.
My reality kept changing as I changed within.
Have you ever noticed how your body feels when you say, “My life is crap”? Your body contracts and you can almost feel the fear rising. But when you tell yourself, “There’s a lot of good in my life,” your body almost expands, and you can breathe.
Our words have a profound impact on us. Changing that narrative we tell ourselves changes everything.
The new information that I discovered through my personal quest helped me to understand my past. I found people like Gabor Maté who explained concepts such as intergenerational trauma and addiction. This information helped me change the story I told myself around my childhood. It helped me understand my trauma.
I remember knowing from my intuition that my relationship with my dad needed my attention. Then I saw an advertisement for a new book, Father Therapy, by Doreen Virtue, which led me to inner child work. This helped me heal my younger self.
As I continued my quest to heal and feel better, I found new healing modalities like breathwork, EFT (emotional freedom tapping technique), and eye movement techniques.
I said thank you again and again and again.
All those years I spent as a victim to my story kept me stuck and unable to move forward. But now I was ready to change and expressing gratitude for the process. More was always finding its way to me. I now had so many tools that I never knew existed in the depths of my pity party.
It was not easy. I cried. Fear took over some days and I couldn’t access my intuition. But I would just start my quest again the next day, journaling to connect with myself and see what had happened the day before. What my feelings were and what I needed.
I showed myself love and compassion for my bad days and celebrated the good ones. No longer was I a victim of childhood abuse but a powerful survivor.
Yes, bad things happened to me. But they are not who I am; they are just part of my story. That story is what led me here, to this place where I’m now writing to you. I hope to inspire you and show you that it is possible to change your story, whatever it is; that there is so much guidance and support available to you when you are ready to find it. You really will see it everywhere when you start paying attention.
You too will see you also have an inner voice guiding you and access to everything you need to heal. When you start recognizing all the tools available to you, you’ll feel less alone and supported on your journey.
I no longer feel bitter about my experiences in my childhood, but proud. They made me who I am and have allowed me to help many others on their journey to heal from their past.
I have found forgiveness, love, and compassion for the people that hurt me, like my dad, which helps me feel happier. I didn’t have to forgive him. He did awful things, but I understand now they came from his trauma. This has given me great inner peace.
It takes courage and time to transform on the inside and become a trauma cycle breaker in your family. This means that your children will have a different experience. How amazing is that? What a great gift to give them.
The information, tips, guidance, and light are waiting for you to discover them. You just need to take the first step and decide to become the hero of your story and find your own heart’s happiness.
About Manpreet Johal Bernie
Manpreet is the creator of the podcast Heart’s Happiness, where she talks about intergenerational trauma, and is also a coach who helps people make peace with their past and rewrite their story by learning how to love themselves and their inner child. Check out her FREE MASTERCLASS, Freedom from Anxiety, where she shares her proprietary technique to help with anxiety when we change our relationship with our emotionally immature parents. Follow her on Instagram here.
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