Do you want to be making the same choices five years from now that you are making today?
Or do you want those future choices to be better, more effective, more authentic, more gracious and more mature?
If you know where you need change in your life down the line, why not start trying to own that change today?
To do that, though, you have to understand, acknowledge and accept the choices you make today and why you make them. There is a reason why you are where you are.
Those reasons are most often in the baggage that you carry with you. They are in the experiences, the feelings, the pain and the truth that you hold on to. Your choices are in your burdens.
You carry those burdens for real, important and valid reasons. They really are part of you, the scars and the stories that have shaped who you are. You can’t just throw them away, nor would you want to. They are, in many ways, who you are.
What you want, at least if you want to change your choices in the world, to become new and better, is to not let those burdens control your choices. You need to stop letting past pain shape you and instead shape yourself in powerful, conscious and bold new ways.
The goal isn’t to let go of your past, to surrender or deny the truth of your very real experiences. The goal is to be able to feel those stored feelings and make the thoughtful choice anyway.
This all sounds simple, but it isn’t. You have to get to the point where you no longer carry your pain directly on your skin, raw and ragged all the time. You need to be able to navigate the world with brains and heart.
Not being controlled by your pain requires that you be able to unburden yourself, going through what you carry and separating the truth from the ouch. It requires that you process your stuff, unwire your emotional hot buttons, mellow out the sharpness that triggers your fight/flight/freeze responses.
To do this work, you need accurate mirroring which permits you to feel what you feel and know what you know, which is a key basis for recovery.
In a world where the transgender experience has been erased, marginalized, trivialized and stigmatized, getting that kind of mirroring is very, very hard. Instead of finding safe space to do the work, we find ignorance, political correctness, fundamentalism, pathologizing and trivialization.
Even our kindest allies don’t want to have to do the work of really engaging our experiences, instead preferring a simplified and sanitized version that is easier to swallow because it doesn’t force them to question their own worldview.
If we can’t get our story mirrored, we can’t get past it. And if we can’t get past it, it continues to control us, holding back our power to make new and better choices.
Standing for transformation is standing for possibility.
Standing for possibility requires believing that change is possible, that people can move beyond the choices they now make to better, different and transcendent.
Holding open the space for change demands we effectively mirror, not just reflecting the past and what we knew there, but also mirroring the present and the wisps of transformation that are starting to grow.
“The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.”
― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman
To make better choices, you have to stop being controlled by past pain.
To not be controlled by your past, you have to take the sting out of it.
To take the sting out of it, you have to believe you can move beyond it, transform and be seen as new.
To believe you can be seen as new, having both your past and your possibility seen, you have to have good, real and strong mirroring that respects your history and values your possibilities and your potential.
When you don’t get that mirroring, the world is not only a lonely place, with people unable to really see and value you, but you also are continually tied up in the pain that is so difficult to make manifest, to reveal, to have mirrored as a prelude to discharging the ouch and moving on, not letting that pain continue to control and cripple us.
Just putting a shell over the ouch is no solution. Healing is required as a foundation for growth and transformation. The goal can’t just be to bottle up all the pain of our history, letting it roll around and continue to eat our heart and demolish our vulnerability, rather it is to find a way to feel the fear and pain and do it anyway.
Our experience is part of us that keeps us connected with ourselves and with other people. It is the basis for compassion and empathy, the basis for opening in a very human way, bonding with the vulnerability of others. We need to stay in relationship with it to have an open heart, not just wall it off in a compartment we hope stays sealed.
Good choices are based in polling both our head and our heart, our smarts and our tenderness, and not being controlled into knee-jerk reactions by either of them.
If you want to be making better choices down the line, getting over the ouch in your heart and the scars in your head that have built up around that, the defences and rationalizations, is the only way to be more present in the moment, more open and disciplined.
Make yur future choices to be better, more effective, more authentic, more gracious and more mature.
Do the work.