Remembering is a double-edged tire-iron. It can save your life or throw your life into a permanent stall. Which will you choose?
It’s a lifeboat.
The first time you touched a burner, it hurt. Your brain made a note: don’t do that again.
Maybe your parents tried to drill into you the lessons they had learned, so you wouldn’t have to learn those painful lessons for yourself. Some of those admonitions helped; others didn’t stick so well.
At school, your teachers tried to pile a bunch of facts into your head, many of which were so random your good child-brain said to itself: don’t bother remembering this.
But the fact is, for the most part, remembering is there to keep you alive, whether it’s remembering to fasten your seat belt or to stay away from certain other deadly possibilities.
But it’s also a bear trap.
To mix metaphors, remembering can also keep you from moving forward. You can get your ankle caught in a trap of bad memories that subconsciously leave you so afraid of getting hurt again that you end up in a state of almost permanent paralysis.
Where do you feel stuck?
You are a smart, capable guy. So the fact that you’re stuck is frustrating. You can figure this out and move forward, if you can just grab that bad memory and do something with it.
For example: maybe you want to move to a better job. But you’re held back by the memory of that third grade teacher who said you were a terrible writer. So you can’t even get to first base to write a cover letter to apply for that better job.
What can you do?
Remember. Think about the word itself: remember. It literally means to re-member: to put the pieces back together. There is a part of remembering we haven’t touched on yet, which is to remember who you are in totality. Many of us mostly remember that bad parts; the shameful or discouraging parts, that keep us pinned down.
You can also remember the good parts. There is a lot about you that is good — maybe even great. So put that good memory of yours to work recalling who you really are. You have many talents and aspirations waiting to be put to good use.
Write it down. Writing is the way that helps me most when I want to get unstuck. Once I’ve written something down, it isn’t as vague or as frightening as is was when I let it bounce around loose in my memory. The thought becomes concrete and I can work with it.
Here’s a little project to get you started.
This is a free writing project.
(The point of free writing is to shut down the internal editor in your head, so we can get to some core issues.)
Here are the guidelines:
- Set aside 30 minutes — alone — where you can write at your computer, without interruption.
- Open a fresh document
- Set it for single spacing
- 12 point font
- Once you start writing, write as fast as you can, without stopping to clean it up — and don’t stop until you have filled one page.
- Once you’ve filled the page — wherever you are, even mid-sentence — stop. (In other words, even though you’ve set aside 30 minutes, you don’t need to use the whole 30 minutes unless you need it.)
Your prompt for this writing project is: “How I Got Here.”
(You get to decide where “here” is.)
Remember your life. Along with the bad, also remember the good. Write it down. See it. And then, get moving again.
Want more help?
I can help you remember and move on.