Statement*: My mother hated me pretty much from the beginning.
Modification: I had a series of experiences when my mother was hostile which led me to believe that my mother hated me pretty much from the beginning.
The statement as originally presented is stated as an overarching truth.
I hate my job.
My partner is depressed and can’t meet my needs.
And they don’t have to be so negative or firm.
What are your overarching truths?
The overarching truth doesn’t leave any room for change.
It paints the speaker’s mother as all bad and entirely hateful.
The modification gets closer to our experience.
It describes what actually happened.
The modification gives us an opportunity.
The modification ever so subtly asks us to take responsibility.
To allow for the fact that life is complex. No one person entirely good or bad.
The modification asks us to open up.
Can you modify your overarching truth? Get closer to your experience? See the complexity of it?
In a container – therapy or elsewhere – the modification asks us to feel what those experiences were like. Fully. Unfolding all the thoughts and feelings and letting them flow.
The “overarching truths” that we live by are usually not so true at all.
And they are breaking our world apart.
Open your heart to the ins and outs. To the experiences themselves.
It is in here that life is found.
*A statement I made up for the purpose of illustration.
Thank you, Ann Mullen, for the great work and inspiration for this post.