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Making Something Out of Nothing

We do this with our life experience all the time. How? By the story we tell about what’s happening.

You can fall off your bike as a 5 year-old child, scrape your knee, and make that into a life-altering experience that means you’ll never ride a bike again.

You can take that same fall off your bike at 5 years old, make it not a big deal, dust yourself off, and get right back on your bike.

What was the problem? The fall? Or my thinking about the fall and potentially how my caregivers reacted to my fall?

When I tell you the experience is irrelevant it’s because of this idea right here. It’s because of our ability to turn the most minor of experiences into major events at the drop of a hat.

The experience is just a thing that happened. It’s the “he said she said” or “he did she did”. It’s the thing that happened without the emotion, without the drama, without the added interpretations of events.

The experience is just a thing that happened. It is irrelevant.

What makes it a big deal? The stuff you add that your mind tells you is also true. The emotion makes it a big deal. Your interpretation of what they said and did makes it a big deal. Your own triggers make it a big deal. Other people’s reactions to it make it a big deal.

What makes the fall off your bike a big deal? How your caregivers responded. If they over-reacted then you probably did too because you were 5 and you didn’t know any better. If your parents thought you were mortally wounded then you would have too because that’s part of being 5.

But how does that show up as an adult?

Now you share the experience with others and you take your cues from them. If they react strongly then you think you need to as well. They make it a big deal and you decide to do the same thing.

Guess what?

That’s a repetitive cycle of using other people’s reactions to determine what your own reactions should be.

Is that helpful?

Nope because other people don’t fully understand your experience no matter how good of a story teller you are or how similar the experiences may be. They can only react from their own pain and previous experience.

Our reactions to our experiences aren’t usually based on the truth of the experience. If that were the case then everybody would react the same way to the same movie. But that doesn’t happen. Why? Because our reactions to experience are based on our own individual experience and pain.

Your perception creates pain or not because it’s your perception that determines whether something is traumatic or whether it’s just a thing that happened. It’s not actually about the experience.

The experience doesn’t matter – it’s completely irrelevant. Telling the story of it solves nothing.

The only thing you ever have to deal with is yourself. Just understand yourself within the experience. You don’t need to do anything else.

If you try to do something else, you will end up making something out of nothing. You will turn the experience into a big deal and it will offer you pain.

Trauma is not created by experience. Trauma is created by the mind telling stories about experience that offers you extra pain. That’s why you shift your focus, so that you don’t create more pain for yourself.

The story you tell feels really true, doesn’t it? You’re not willing to question it because you’re scared of what you’re going to find. The honest answer is that you’re not going to find anything. There is nothing there to find. It’s just a thing that happened. Everything you need to find is within you. It’s not out there in the world or in the external experience.

What’s within you is the reason why you created the story. The story is based on some kind of pain that you’re still carrying around. What’s within you is the pain you’re carrying. What’s within you is the ability to let go of the pain so that you can stop telling the story.

I used to tell the story of how people were making me do things. It was a story based on my interpretation of what they were saying. What they were saying were mostly suggestions based on their own perception of what life should look like.

My insecurity (the pain) turned my interpretations of their suggestions into commands. Their suggestions became the things I must do, so I did them.

No matter what I did, the suggestions from others kept coming. They were never satisfied with what I was doing. It was never enough. I kept following their suggestions hoping to make them happy one day. I remember at one point wondering to myself when I would be able to live my life without their input. That thought came from pain because I wasn’t living my life, I was living their lives and I didn’t want their lives. I wanted my own life but I didn’t feel like I was allowed to do that.

My insecurity and sense of powerlessness was the painful foundation that my interpretation of my experience was based on. Everything was filtered through my insecurity. That is what offered me pain – not my experience, not the things that happened to me, not what people said to me – my perception of all of it being filtered through insecurity.

What is at the foundation of the pain you interpret from your experience? Is it true?

When you make the experience irrelevant and you focus solely on your interpretation of the experience, you can free yourself from the pain of your own interpretation. It is the interpretation that causes you more pain than the experience ever could.

But you don’t see that and you defend the story you tell. The more pain it offers you the more you defend it. The more you defend it the more pain it offers. The pain doesn’t need you to defend it. It can take care of itself quite well. Your job is to stop defending the pain so that it can leave.

Here’s the kicker – you can do this with any experience, no matter how big or how small the experience is. You can take any experience and make it something you feel the need to hold onto for the rest of your life – or not. It’s all up to you and your interpretation of what’s happening. That interpretation is heavily influenced by the pain it is supported by.

At the foundation of every human being is a sense of pain. It’s part of the human condition. Whether we gain the pain through our own individual experience or we have the pain passed onto us from other people, pain becomes our foundation very early on.

We get the choice to build ourselves a new foundation if we want to. The risk is that we collapse the house that was sitting on the foundation when we try to lift it up. When you lift up a house to put it on a new foundation, there is always a risk the house will collapse. Maybe the same is true in life. Creating a new foundation for yourself means there is a risk of pain or of proverbial collapse. But maybe the collapse allows one to build a new house to go on their new foundation and maybe that’s not a bad thing all the time. Maybe it’s only in our interpretation that the pain actually exists. Maybe if we saw it differently it wouldn’t be such a problem and we’d be more willing to risk the proverbial collapse that sometimes gets offered to us.

Maybe if we allowed the collapse we’d be able to make something out of nothing in a more constructive way. Maybe this is how we make something out of nothing – by tearing the things down that no longer work and replacing them with something that does.

Is it possible that what sometimes happens is that we build ourselves a new house without replacing the foundation first? Maybe that’s how we end up offering ourselves more pain. Taking a crappy house and moving it to a new spot doesn’t make the house better. The house is still going to be crappy even if it is sitting on a better foundation. You may not always need to tear down and start again, but it would be good if we could give ourselves permission to do that when needed.

Fear is the thing that stops us. Fear is the story we tell. We make a lot out of the fear. We turn the fear into a big deal again making something out of nothing. But what if the fear is only based on a painful foundation? If by simply healing the foundation we can release the fear and build the new house, then what continues to stop us? The unknown future. The unknown goal.

There is an advantage to going for a drive without a destination. It’s cool to see what you come across or where you end up when you release some of the control you normally like to have. There is value in going to down a bit of a blind path. The idea is to recognize what you’re in control of. In this case you’re not in control of the destination, but you’re definitely in control of the steps you take going down the path.

That has certainly been my life experience over the last 10 years or so. I chose to go down the blind path and this is where I am right now. But I didn’t plan this. I ended up here through a succession of steps that I’ve taken on the blind path. Each of those steps were under my control. This as a temporary destination, was not.

It helps to begin understanding where our point of control is, what to pay attention to and not pay attention to, what our thoughts and feelings are based on, and how all of this is affecting our interpretation of the world around us.

All of this allows us to make something out of nothing, whether we do that in a more positive sense or whether we just end up creating more pain for ourselves.

It’s all a choice. You just have to remember to choose wisely.

Love to all.



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