Brené Brown puts it this way, “When we deny the story, it defines us…”
How do we keep from allowing our stories to define us?
Surprisingly, this action is another decision. No matter what has happened to us in the past, no matter how we have handled situations yesterday, we will be held there, trapped, if we don’t break out of those memories that have chains around us. We must forgive. It’s the only way.
If this step seems impossible to you—then perhaps seeing the progression of the thought process will help.
A negative event > traumatic memory > negative emotion > denial > capture
Did you see it? Without even realizing it, we are easily captured and held hostage in a traumatic memory. Notice the word “in” and not “by”. If we do not resolve and reconcile a past traumatic event with a present rescue, we are simply captured—stuck—IN that part of our story. Eventually we relate to the capture as a perpetual state of being, believing that our prison-like circumstances will never change.
But they can! We often are reluctant to forgive offending parties because we mistakenly equate forgiveness with injustice. We think that, if we truly forgive someone, that person will be “let off the hook” and never face appropriate justice. We must come to realize that by not forgiving, we simply stay in our prison, even when the prison guard has unlocked the cell. In truth, we are free to leave anytime.
For most of us, the act of forgiving is not easy. But the action is absolutely necessary. We must walk out of the cell, held captive no more! Emotional freedom is worth the risk of doing something foreign, something with which we are not familiar. Yet the freedom is well worth the risk! Remember, Your Story Matters!