Clinging to memories of either a negative or positive childhood can hold you back from having your best life. But, letting go of using these past experiences as emotional anchors, can be extremely challenging.
Henry had an idyllic childhood. Loving family and friends, a comfortable home and good health. He lacked nothing and grew up with a kind and gentle attitude toward people and life. When his marriage began to fail, he tried to fix it the only way that he could think of, by recreating his childhood with a beautiful home, new cars and vacations. When that didn’t work, they tried months of counseling. He tried to provide everything that he thought would maintain a happy family. Then Henry’s wife took their son and left. He grieved and tried to win her back, but she had moved on. It didn’t take him long to wake up. His stress level had built up so gradually, that he hadn’t realized how it had crept into every moment of his life. For the first time in years, he felt as though he could breath free. After 6 months she wanted to come back, but he knew that if they were together, he would never have any peace in his life. But more importantly, Henry wanted to provide a mentally and emotionally stable example for his son and he knew that couldn’t happen within that marriage.
Henry had to dig deep within himself and examine every belief that he held about what made a happy life and every belief that he held about what would be best for his son. It took an immense amount of courage for Henry to accept that no physical setting and no amount of counseling could make this a harmonious home. Divorce was a foreign concept to Henry. No one in his family had been divorced and none of his friends with children had been divorced. But, he knew that it was his best choice. Now, over 10 years later, Henry has an emotionally fulfilling life and a great relationship with his son.
Eva’s childhood was about as far from Henry’s as you can imagine. Her father had a slew of mental illnesses and couldn’t hold a job. Her mother thought that the best way to keep her husband calm, was to cater to his every whim. Her mother worked all day and came home to care for her husband. Eva pretty much raised herself, learning not to trust or rely on adults. With mental illness considered the norm and with little affection or positive attention, you might think of Eva’s chances for a happy life as doomed. But, around age 10, Eva became aware that her life wasn’t normal and that there were happy people out there in the world. By her 20’s, she realized that happy people saw things differently and behaved differently than she did. She had one goal; to learn how to be happy. She studied psychological and philosophic views on happiness. She observed people in her life that appeared happy and she examined her own attitudes, feelings and behaviors.She spent years examining every aspect of her life, working through all of the emotional trauma and finding new healthier ways of dealing with her past. She is now very happily married and has a fulfilling career.
Henry and Eva came from opposite ends of the spectrum. But one thing that they share is an examined life. They were both weighed down by their own emotional anchors. They both realized that they wanted something different and they both had the courage to examine their lives and make changes.
Living an unexamined life is just existing, its not really living. If you want your life to be different than it is, you need to find the courage to examine your life and choose what is working for you and what isn’t. You have to be willing to let go of ideas, habits and people that keep you from living your best life.
Dead people say: Have courage dear ones. Do the work. More than anything else, we want you to be happy.