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Written By: Mark Smith

Healing Toxic Shame Through Recovery
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Managing Abandonment  Issues Through Recovery
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I’m taking the week off. Your guest columnist is my new friend Personal Life Coach Lisa Ralph…

I was never like the rest of them. They took family vacations in their sparkling station wagons, had trendy clothes, and cool bedrooms with stereos. As a family, they spent time together talking, laughing and liking each other. The few times that I did spend the night at their house, I went home wanting to be and live like them.

I lived in an old ranch house on a gravel road. The kitchen ceiling was falling in, and due to a pig farm on the property right behind us, there was usually a pretty strong odor. Our cars were used, dented and unreliable. For extra income my parents ran an early morning paper route. At the age of 13, it was my responsibility to take care of many of the household chores and take care of my younger brother. I did the cooking, cleaning and yard work. In addition, I worked at the gas station pumping gas, checking oil and selling live bait. My alcoholic father was mentally and verbally abusive and when he wasn’t spending the entire night out at the bars, he spent his time yelling and criticizing me. I never did anything good enough. After what seemed like an eternity, my mother finally found some strength and divorced my father. Our house was sold in a sheriff’s sale.

Fast forward to 2006. My adult life wasn’t working. I came to the realization that it probably wasn’t everybody else’s fault that I was miserable. I spent the next 6 months getting real with myself. I was coached through a structured process and started a spiritual journey. For the first time in my life, I spent a lot of time alone and in silence. I came to the harsh reality that I had to take complete and total ownership of everything happening to me in my life – even the things that were coming from outside of me. I learned that we control the quality of our life by how we perceive and think about events and information. In other words, events that we experience and information that we receive are neutral. The energy that we give them and our response to them create our quality of life – our reality.

For instance, in my situation, for many years I saw the events of my childhood being bad, wrong and something I shouldn’t have experienced. I had low energy around them and for many years, I felt like a victim. As a result, I felt unhappy and got upset every time I repeated or thought about this story. At this point, I had been repeating a story that no longer served me for 27 years. It was time to change it...

Instead of seeing the events as bad and wrong, I could simply rewrite the story, and have it sound something like this, I am grateful for the experiences of my childhood. I have determination, a strong work ethic and can easily fit in and connect with people of all social classes. That feels much better than being stuck crying victim, and it is the truth!

The past is simply a neutral chain of events, in which we create the story. In order to experience true happiness and live the life of our dreams, we have to recognize the stories that no longer serve us – all of the stories of rejection, blame, lack and limitation. Again, these stories stand in the way of us living the life we say we want. We can not change the events of our past, but we do have the power to change our perception of them to allow new realities.

Daily, I reminded myself of my power. By taking responsibility for my ability to respond, to choose to remain calm, and to remain positive in the face of all and every kind of event, I had the freedom to live a happy life. At the age of 39, I finally discovered who I am outside of my roles of partner, daughter, sister and employee. I gained real clarity around what matters most to me. I developed a crystal clear vision of how I wanted to live my life. I was no longer on the hunt for people and situations to make me happy. I was experiencing authentic happiness within.

Now, I invite you to take a look at your life.

Are you living the life of your dreams? Are you achieving the successes you truly desire? Are you experiencing lack, limitation, or dissatisfaction? I urge you to check in with yourself. Are you ready to take responsibility for the current state of your life? You have the power and CAN control your current reality. If you are committed to moving forward, the first step is to get clear with the limiting beliefs and conversations that are running your life. Spend time in silence and REALLY think about this. Recognize the stale, spoken and unspoken stories that no longer serve you. I’m sending you inspiration to take action to live every tick of life with courage, passion and freedom.

For over 18 years, Lisa Ralph helped companies and individuals meet corporate business and marketing objectives. On a regular basis, she found herself working with individuals who were afraid to follow their own personal dreams, or those who had no idea what they wanted out of life. Having great faith in human potential, Lisa's vision was to create a company that would allow her to motivate and inspire individuals to live a life and work a career filled with courage, passion and freedom. According to Lisa, "Until people develop a strong sense of self, gain clarity and really know who they are outside of their roles and titles, they are falling short of being the partner, parent, child or employee they could be." After specialized training and certification, Lisa took that leap of faith into self employment and developed Crimson Phoenix Coaching.

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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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