Journey to Wholeness
This Is Your Life
By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.
This Is Your Life was the name of a radio, (1948-1952) then television (1952-1961; 1971-1983) program that featured Ralph Edwards surprising, then reviewing the life of everyone from celebrities to ordinary persons. He would talk about their life history, often introducing people from their past as guests. I was impressed by this show and, with the able assistance of my siblings produced an amateur This Is Your Life show for each of our parents for their 50th wedding anniversary. It was deeply moving for them, for us, our children, and many friends and relatives.
I imagine you are familiar with this process as you may have done it many times in your life as you experience developmental shifts, and face your life’s crises and challenges. As you experience these events or situations, you find yourself asking questions. “Where have I been?” Where am I now? Where am I going?
There are developmental shifts like starting school, graduating, physical maturational changes, leaving home, working, and relationships (friends, life partners, being parents, etc.) Then there are more individual experiences like health issues, accidents or injuries, and different types of trauma; physical, emotional, sexual, relationships changing or ending, death, and different kinds of losses. The list can be long. Each person has their own set of unique, personal experiences that have called on them to respond.
The question for each of us is how we respond to these expected and unexpected human life challenges. In my experience as a psychotherapist, the pattern I have observed is that people tend to seek out counseling when developmental shifts occur and/or when difficult challenges or traumatic experiences occur or have occurred. The task at this moment invites us into the life review or a “this is your life” exercise. In order to learn from the challenge rather than be stagnant or regressed, we must face difficult issues or problems.
In this process it is helpful to call upon our own inner resources (our thoughts, feelings, dreams and imagery, personality strengths, life learnings, etc), and resources in our external environment. In my Life Weaving Curriculum I have identified these resources as: Place (our internal safe place or helpful places/spaces in our external environment), Nature (all animals), Ancestors (those we know, read about, or envision can all be helpers), Family and Extended Family(might be biological family, but is often our chosen family), Community (think of friends, colleagues, mentors, and teachers, etc.) When we are stressed it is easy to forget the availability of both our internal and external resources.
Life is often like a spiral. Each time we go through a developmental shift or life challenge we are asked to revisit, continue to heal, and learn from our trauma and pain. Each time we grow more deeply into our potential and our true selves. We are not repeating, we are adding wonderful layers of growth coming often from great challenges and painful experiences.
In the article, “Changing Your Perspective is a Catalyst for Growth and Change” by Elyssa Barbash, she quotes “When you’re in a dark place, you sometimes tend to think you have been buried. Perhaps you have been planted. Bloom.” This challenges us to consider that things are not always as they seem. This is a perspective shift! We can think of our developmental shifts, our problems, and our traumas as an invitation to growth and change rather than bad luck, an overwhelming roadblock, punishment, or failure!
We often need support and reminders from those around us that we can do this. Sometimes it is a kind word from someone, a beautiful flower, the birds singing, our dog looking gratefully at us, a memory, something we read or hear, writing or drawing, or exercising. These are the small things that help us to begin to shift perspective, to believe there is help available, that solutions are possible, and that we can get through this moment, this day, this problem. That is when learning and growing take root. The trauma, the shift becomes the catalyst for change.
So, just maybe, you can call on your various resources as you, once again, star in your own show of “This Is Your Life” on the daily journey of growing and healing.
Jude LaClaire, Ph. D., LCPC is a counselor and educator at the Heartland Holistic Health Center. She is the author of the “Life Weaving Education Curriculum” that teaches creative, effective, holistic problem solving. For counseling appointments, seminars, in-service training or speaker’s bureau, call 816-509-9277 or email@example.com; www.heartlandholistic.com