“Responsibility is the price of greatness.”―Winston Churchill
Many people, when they first meet me, say I look either serious or angry. Oddly enough, on the one hand, this makes me laugh because it happens so often! I usually say, “If I had a dollar every time somebody said that to me…” On the other hand, it concerns me, and I used to feel frustrated when I was seen and received this way. I wished people could see and experience my true essence. Then I would receive compliments!
“If one person tells you you’re a horse, they are crazy. If three people tell you you’re a horse, there’s a conspiracy afoot. If ten people tell you you’re a horse, it’s time to buy a saddle” ―Jack Rosenblum
I believe people were spot on though because, for most of my adult life, I’ve been feeling angry. And I used to do a lot of blaming, complaining and making excuses about this. Some of my favourite lines were, “It’s the world’s fault!”, “What did I do to deserve all this?” and “Why is this happening to me?”
I realise now that, back then, I was not taking full responsibility. I was blaming earlier events in my life for my state of unhappiness.
Growing up, I lived with a dysfunctional father who caused many problems at home. I was young at the time, and I didn’t understand what was going on. So, my ability to control my responses was limited. Fortunately for me, besides this aspect of my life, I was a happy child. Back then, no one used to come up to me and say I looked angry.
But, in my mid-teens, my family broke apart. My parents divorced, my dad left, and both my brothers left home to go to university. I felt abandoned. I also felt ashamed and embarrassed that I came from a broken home. I blamed my dad for everything, and I complained that my brothers had left me alone to deal with the fallout. Others, such as my teachers, now began to mention that I looked unhappy. Around this age, I started to feel depressed.
In my late teens, I added a new response: I also blamed myself for what happened. It made my depression even worse. I went on to experience depression on and off from my mid-teens to around thirty years old.
I did my utmost to solve my problem. Throughout my twenties, I sought out and received cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy and other anxiety-related treatments on numerous occasions, and with various practitioners. I spent thousands of US dollars and travelled as far as the United States to get help. Unfortunately, receiving all kinds of therapy and taking antidepressants did not work for me.
I was in my mid-thirties when I first came across the simple concept of E+R=O (Event + Response = Outcome). Very soon after discovering it, I experienced what people term an “Aha!” moment. I was suddenly all aware that I had been creating and allowing my feelings of depression, anger, and resentment to happen all along. It was my responses to an earlier event in my life that had shaped how I felt. It was a massive awakening for me.
So I changed my responses. I hired a coach, and I got to work on creating my future from the future, not my past. I worked through forgiveness exercises to heal my relationships – first with myself, second with my dad and third with anyone I believed had caused me harm or neglect, no matter how big or small. I used Byron Katie’s ideas to challenge, dismantle and weaken the thoughts behind my fears and my disempowering beliefs. I received advanced coaching tools (which I am now trained to facilitate myself) to explore the blocks in my subconscious mind so I could finally release them and move on with my life.
All these new responses have enabled me to release a lot of my anger and resentment towards myself and others. As a result, my outcomes have changed. I still have work to do, but I can honestly say that I now feel much happier than I can ever recall in my life. My humorous side has also returned! And it’s all because I changed my responses to an earlier event in my life.