womanpullinghairoutsmallPicture this: a woman who is - almost literally - tearing her hair out, with desperation.  One relationship in her life has been traumatic, and painful.  She defines herself, solely, in terms of that flawed  and damaging relationship. A little gentle ‘probing' from me reveals that overall the balance sheet is pretty positive: Other intimate relationships?  Excellent Work situation?  Very good Finances? Comfortable Friendships? Excellent Health? Good Extended family? Loving and supportive Still, she defines herself - and her entire adult life - in the light of this one unhappy relationship. That’s a choice, you see.  Not that she saw it that way.  But she’s someone who lives a very dramatic life. Now, I’m not saying that her life is - objectively speaking - dramatic.  On the whole, it’s quite the reverse.  She, actually, has a stable, comfortable life, in every respect; barring this one - regrettably stable - bad relationship. I’ve been coaching women who have experienced a LOT of trauma and difficulty in their lives for over 10 years now and, ultimately, who hasn’t?  In that time, I’ve discovered something quite counter-intuitive: it’s not so much the degree of hurt and trauma you undergo that shapes your life, as how you relate to it. Years ago, I was introduced to the concept of the Drama Queen by the wonderful Catherine Behan.  For years and years I’d wondered why there were people whose crises always trumped anything I was going through…  Whatever I happened to be going to, these people always could - and would  - point out, more or less openly: “Yes, but it’s so much worse for me.  Listen to what I’m going through…” (Frankly, that’s poor listening and, not uncommonly, downright rude.  What people go through shouldn’t be a competition.) The term  Drama Queen is not intended to be gender specific, by the way;  I’ve come across some  phenomenal male Drama Queens in my time.  But until Catherine introduced me to the term, I’d never understood what was going on.  I’d just understood that 90% of any interchange would be about them, and that incidents in my life could only ever be monochrome, while their life was played out in full Technicolor. Drama Queens, like this woman with the failed relationship, feed on the drama in their lives.  That is how they define themselves. When you define yourself in terms of the bad stuff in your life, there’s a problem, isn’t there? You end up needing the bad stuff in your life to know who you are. You worry that, if you didn’t have that bad stuff, you wouldn’t know who you were, or how to be… well, you. The difference between Drama Queens  and the rest of us is this: those of us who are spared the Drama Queen Gene just get on with things, relatively stoically. And this is where it gets interesting.  You see, over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of women who’ve been through extraordinary difficulties.  The ones who’ve soldiered on - without telling themselves a Drama Queen story - are always the ones who find it far easier to make massive changes, address their difficulties, and come out the other side, stronger, wiser, and way happier. Why so? Because they have a quiet heroism they aren’t even aware of.  But, sooner or later, it will serve them well. Because transformation really does not have to be difficult - unless you become transfixed by your own catastrophizing story. Of course, if you do this, there is a problem: because everything you experienced becomes fodder for that story, and will be immediately processed for incorporation into that story. Those of us who have the Soldiering On Gene, on the other hand, have this way of ploughing on through whatever we lemonadesmallencounter.  When Life hands us lemons, we may mutter that we wouldn’t have complained at strawberries,  or chocolate, or caviar.  But then we get on and process those lemons. You can make a lot of good things from lemon.  It’s not just lemonade. The fact that you’re reading this means, pretty much, that you’re a lemonade maker.  If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be wasting your time reading something by someone who couldn’t possibly understand what you’ve been through.  Instead you’d be visiting the catalogue of your life’s injustices on a ‘Soldier’. That capacity to produce something good even from Life’s less sweet gifts will serve you  well.  What it means is that you can process whatever change you need to process.  Even if you don’t believe you can. Only, until now, you’ve been selling yourself short. That’s what people with the Soldiering On Gene do. STOP IT RIGHT NOW!! Lemonade is good as far as it goes.  But you’re free to make anything you want with the lemons that Life sends your way. What do you really, really want to make? Because you can.      
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