Your perception is an incredible power that you wield. But when you do not shape your perceptions in an empowering way, you do not encourage your growth-mindset, and that can lead to some pretty painful cycles. I experienced this for myself. But once I realized that I could change these cycles with a simple shift in perspective, my whole life changed! Today I’ll be sharing a story from my past that truly shows how perceptions can completely change a situation. Even though this one seemed hopelessly painful, it worked out. You can take this story and apply these concepts to your own life. See which cycles you can change with just a simple shift.
Not too long ago, I almost fell into a harmful cycle of depression and loss of self. I had experienced this many times before. This was triggered by a difficult breakup, and I did struggle. But by listening to my body and evaluating the beliefs that structured this cycle, I was able to understand why this cycle existed. In the end, I was able to overcome it.
Around a year ago, my then-boyfriend sat across from me at the table and broke up with me. He explained simply to me that we couldn’t see each other anymore, and that he wanted us to “detach” from each other. I was absolutely heartbroken.
I was unable to handle this break-up, and that night I lay in my bed, sobbing uncontrollably. After a long time of this, I wiped the tears away…. I realized I went through this cycle every time, and so I began to evaluate why this cycle existed. Through that process, I discovered that I had been dealing with a subconscious chemical recipe that had nothing to do with this breakup. Instead, it had everything to do with being abandoned at four years old. I had been recreating this cycle every time I experienced a feeling of abandonment like the feeling I had experienced as a child. In that moment — where just moments before, I had been sobbing over the breakup — I realized this truth for myself, and suddenly I felt lighter.
I took a deep breath and sat up, thinking about it more. The more I explored why the cycle existed and began to shift my thinking surrounding this event, the more it occurred to me that I would be okay. The reality of the situation was that I was involved in the decision not to see him anymore just as much as he was. I wasn’t being abandoned. This understanding flipped a switch inside of me. I realized that as soon as I had triggered the feelings of abandonment that I had harbored from that event at four years old, everything in my body reignited the negative chemical recipe of abandonment from that original wound in my childhood. This realization was so powerful because once I understood these feelings, I could change my perception of this experience.
After this revelation, I thought back to every breakup I’d ever experienced since high school, and a pattern emerged. Any time I had gone through a breakup, I almost drowned in what felt like crushing depression. This cycle of depression was so bad that there were many stretches of time when I was unable to fully function as an adult. As I examined this pattern, it also became clear that I typically stagnated in that sorry state. That is, until something broke the harmful cycle, like a vacation or, more commonly, a new boyfriend. And every one of those depressive cycles was a re-creation of that four-year-old child who felt like her life was at risk when she was left alone.
The moment I came to this realization, I discovered that I had the power to change how I perceived these painful experiences. I said out loud to myself, “Don’t do this to yourself. You don’t have to run that program, and you don’t have to spiral into depression.” I was able to stop crying. And I noticed that when I stopped the program in its tracks, my feelings changed. I went from feeling desperation and depression to anxiousness, then to mild sadness. I thought about how fascinating and empowering it was to discover myself from the inside. This was how it felt to stop an unwanted program from turning into a harmful cycle that would have normally drowned me.
I slept with the knowledge that I had experienced a major shift in my consciousness, and when I woke up the next day, I didn’t feel depressed. In fact, I actually felt happy. I went about my day, embracing the novelty of how it felt to be the captain of my own emotional ship. I felt liberated. I decided to write in my journal, which was a positive outlet for my happiness. As I wrote, I got more and more excited, and that fueled even more happiness.
To clarify, I’m not saying that I didn’t have feelings of sadness over the breakup; I did. The difference is that I finally had clarity about the situation. Once I changed my perceptions, I could finally understand what the circumstances were. I didn’t fall prey to that harmful old abandonment program that didn’t serve my needs.
So these cycles can be so hard to dig ourselves out of, especially if we have these harmful programs running. These programs run chemical recipes through our bodies that don’t help us or make us feel better. But a shift in paradigms, adjusted perceptions, can change everything. Sometimes, self-awareness is all we need to make important changes. That is the importance of our perceptions; they shape our lives, and a positive outlook can make such a difference.
A great first step to changing your perceptions is to explore your relationships, feelings, and experiences. This is so you can truly understand why you felt this way in this situation. My Breakthrough Your Breakup workbook is a great resource for this. It’s especially helpful if you, like me, experience these cycles with relationships. You can download that workbook here, or feel free to join my Facebook group for more!