“I need to be institutionalized. Something is horribly wrong! Is there a place you can get me to and help me while maintaining my dignity? I’m terrified that someone’s going to find me in a corner in a fetal position foaming at the mouth. I’m so, so desperate. Please, please help me!”
My heart went out to her, because I remember a time when I felt very much the same. I begged for help … and I got prayers, spiritual lectures, platitudes, and a pat on the head.
Although prayers are great … I was determined to give her more. And to help her. Without institutionalizing her!
I asked her if she believed she was going to be harmed by anyone? Or if she was thinking of harming herself.
“I’m not suicidal, and I don’t really want to die. You’re going to think this sounds crazy… But I really just want to live again!”
“It’s like my life is on auto pilot.
- Get up
- Get ready
- Meeting after meeting after pointless meeting
- Expanding my never-ending list of projects and tasks
- Stay late to get a little bit more done
- Run errands like crazy
- Have a little bit of family time
- Try to get my exercise in
- Falling to bed exhausted
“Is this all there is? I used to love to live… And now I’m hardly even surviving. And I’m losing it … And I don’t even know what ‘it’ is!”
Another amazing person with a “missing Champion.”
What happens when our Champions are buried beneath layers of pain, shame, faulty messages, trauma, and/or life’s disappointments? Well, let’s just say it’s not the life we had dreamed of!
I would like to share with you this week exactly what I shared with her.
Here are the five things that happen when your Champion is buried, when life is in “overwhelm / repeat mode”:
1. WE DREAM SMALLER DREAMS, IF WE DREAM AT ALL.
The Champion in us is our dreamer. The part of us that believes we could change the world and that desire is a choice that continues to call us. It’s that one thing we were designed to follow. It’s the unfolding that awaits to guide us and lead us to our heart’s fulfillment.
But when layers of faulty messages on our hard drive, messages of pain, shame, and other life disappointments bury our Champion, dreams are crushed beneath undefinable tangled emotions … dimmed to such a low light, that they appear as a circle of gray matter at best.
I was aware as my client was speaking that her Champion was buried beneath such layers.
But I also knew from the things she said and had already accomplished, that her Champion had once been alive and well, at one time leading the way.
I asked her, “What was it like for you when you were hitting your stride, making a major difference in the world with your workshops and programs?”
She responded, “I felt alive! So alive! When I’d be on a plane traveling across the globe, people around me would complain about the trip, taking sleeping pills, to sleep the 16 hours away or watch endless movies. But I felt so different. I was on my way to the other side of the world to make a difference.”
“I’d write for hours about new programs, new ideas. I’d read research and begin to understand better how to help those I was training.”
“I was too excited about what I had the privilege of doing and the new dreams that I had just dreamed up…”
I could feel the excitement as passion poured out of her. I felt excited for her.
But in the moment of silence that ensued, the light went out in her eyes.
I waited a moment for her to process and then asked: “What just happened in this moment? And what happened to all those dreams?”
She whispered: “They just faded away.”
I assured her that the same Champion that helped her dream those great dreams could be found again. That somehow, layers had buried her Champion.
Whether your Champion was once alive, or you’ve never quite tapped into that part of yourself…You can find it and/or get it back!
However, like my client, many people look for the answers in all the wrong places.
- Your Champion is not found in anti-depressants (although if you need them please seek medical help and get them).
- They are not found in the 6 o’clock news (or any other time the news airs).
- They are not found in the newest book (unless the book is about finding and resurrecting your Champion).
Truly, the answer is in resurrecting your Champion.
The Champion in you dreams big dreams.
You’re not too old for it, and you are not too young for it.
You haven’t made too many mistakes for it (no matter how long your list is).
You aren’t under educated or too educated.
Too rich or too poor.
Too lost or too found!
There are still big dreams within you. Don’t allow layers to steal your dreams!
As Maya Angelou said: “As long as you are alive and breathing, there’s someone who needs you to step forward and pursue your dreams, because they need what the dreams within you will bring forth!”
2. WE LOSE SIGHT OF OUR TRUE POTENTIAL.
“There was a time when I truly believed I could make a major impact on others.”
I knew she was finding a resolve, so I let her talk.
“Now I just struggle to make it through each day.”
Her list was so fixable, and I knew we could do this. She continued.
“I’m a fraction of who I was a few years ago.
I’ve lost my edge.
I’ve lost my belief in what’s possible.
I’ve lost my confidence.
I’ve lost my sense of influence….But most of all…I’ve lost belief in me being able to have any positive impact.”
I asked a few key questions:
- Are you any less educated today than you were then?
- Have you had any sort of brain injury or something that would affect the functioning of your brain?
- Have you committed a crime that will potentially leave you in solitary confinement for the rest of your life?
She answered “no” to the first two seriously, and on the third one also delivered her “no” with a big laugh.
(Don’t ever misunderstand the power of laughter. I make a moment for laughter in every session. Because no matter how serious the challenge or issue is, laughter heals and makes us more resourceful and resilient. The old proverb declares, “Laughter makes good like a medicine!” Laughter has healing in it!?)
I encouraged her, “Then if none of those three things have happened, your potential has not changed, and your ability to reach others and make a difference is still intact.”
But obviously her Champion had become buried beneath the layers of a scripted life, filled with scenes she didn’t write. But now her Champion was pursuing her heart to write a new script filled with words of hope, healing, and affirmation!
I asked gently: “Do you know what has buried your Champion again?”
Tears popped out of her eyes, leaving large splatter marks on her blouse and her pants.
She responded: “Yes, but I can’t talk about it.”
I could see the depth of her pain all over her body. The tension in her shoulders. The trembling at the very mention of it, the pulling inward. And before her head dropped, if the eyes truly are the window of the soul, I saw a shattered heart, a crushed spirit, and hope scattered like sand on the seashore.
I honored her request to not speak of it but told her that perhaps we could revisit it another time.
What about you? Have you lost sight of your potential? Or have you never really known your potential?
Whatever the case may be, there’s potential in you that’s greater than you can imagine. We all came from slightly or completely broken families and relationships.
Our life influencers, who for the most part, did the best they could shifting through their own brokenness to mentor our hopes and giftings … They too, were overwhelmed with their own tangled intuitions and search for purpose.
The Champion within all of us, is that unfinished partial version of ourselves that waits for us to find and embrace the truths, that heal and lead our hearts into the future we choose!
Don’t allow the layers to continue to dim the spark. Your life spark is the the great potential within you. Together, WE WILL find the truth that Champions rise and follow. We will find the wisdom to trust our intuitions and the peace to wait or the peace to move forward. We will discover the weaknesses they should ignore, to follow the strengths that make dreams come true!
3. WE BEGIN TO SETTLE IN ALL AREAS ACROSS OUR LIVES.
Don’t settle! Refuse to settle!
My client said to me, “I guess I wanted so badly for things to work out in my life, that I started settling. Settling for an eating routine that I hated. Settling for mornings of just trying to pull myself together enough to make it through a day. Instead of the routines I had once done to set an unstoppably amazing day in motion. There just wasn’t any point to it anymore. It was sucked out of me immediately every morning before I started work. So why do it?”
I listened. I could actually see her emotions shift to neutral. She continued.
“Settling for doing just enough to get by in order to appease my partner who preferred a life of spontaneity, no structure, and lots of playing.”
“Settling for never making plans because there was a fight to make a plan, and the plan rarely went as set. They changed at the last minute, often leaving me unincluded.”
I knew, it was important for her to share it all.
“I felt there was no choice other than to settle into the way a person without great passion and vision would live.”
I’d never experienced what I felt as she shared. It was like a ‘numbness’ filled the air.
“I hate who I’ve become. My confidence is gone. Any of my worth I had fought to claim is gone. I can hardly even function without tears, dismay, and great distress on a day-to-day basis.”
This is what happens to all of us when we begin to settle. It starts a downward cycle from whatever level of excellence we have chosen to live from, until we feel we have lost ourselves.
I read this quote in a book years ago and wrote it the front cover of almost every journal:
“Never settle for all you desire or deserve because when you step away from excellence, you send the message that you are happy with scraps, and the downward spiral begins.”
The moment you realize you are settling; you must begin to address that, or it can very easily bury your Champion.
What about you? What areas of your life are you ‘settling’ in?
We do it with good excuses:
- I don’t have the money
- I don’t have the time
- I don’t have the energy
My client had said all of those to me.
But I assured her that we would do the work to get her Champion back.
If you have found yourself settling, I’ll share with you one of the exercises I did with her.
I had her make a list of all the areas she had settled in. Then we put them on the floor beneath her feet and played the song: “I Ain’t Settling” loud enough to scramble it in her brain while proclaiming loudly where she would settle no more.
You can do the same! Write the areas where you have settled, play the song, and proclaim what you’ll no longer settle for:
I ain’t settling for just getting by
I’ve had enough of so so
for the rest of my life
Tired of shooting too low
So, raise the bar high
Ain’t enough this time
I ain’t settling for anything
Less than everything,
Don’t settle! It keeps your Champion buried!
4.WE LOSE ALL BALANCE, OFTEN RESULTING IN MEDICATING (ADDICTIONS). WE EITHER LIVE OUT OF CONTROL OR HAVE VERY DULL LIVES.
“I used to be so delighted with the balance that I lived in. I worked hard at it. But now my life is just a dull version of the most boring life I could ever imagine. Except for when my husband creates chaos. I really hate both!”
It’s a dilemma that we all must come to terms with when we live life without our Champion. It truly goes one way or the other:
- A dull, boring life without meaning, purpose, or passion
- A life of chaos or self will run riot
Neither are a desirable ways to live. She was normally on the duller than a butter knife side of things. Until her addicted husband (self-will-run riot) created chaos.
I asked her if her husband had been an addict while her life was in balance.
She had an ah-ha moment when she realized her lack of balance coincided with when she fell in love with him.
Our discussion took an interesting turn at that point, which I’ll share briefly with you in case you’ve found yourself in a similar situation.
Too many therapists, coaches, and other well-meaning people go down an unfortunate path when they hear things such as this. A path that says: “He/she (are) is the reason for all of this. They don’t get you or care about you, and they are ruining your life. Run Forrest run!”
I knew she expected that from me when she jumped in with, “But he’s a great man and I love him…”
I assured her that I believe her, and I knew she loved him. And that I did not believe (unless there was physical abuse) that the answer was to take up running with ‘Forrest’!
I knew she was experiencing a dynamic that’s common when someone living hand-in-hand with their Champion gets in relationship with one who’s drowning their own Champion (under layers of pain, shame, faulty messages) along with addiction or other unhealthy medicating behaviors.
Rather than advising her to run, I asked her if she had ever considered how painful it must be for him when he has watched her live life from a Champion place? When he had no clue where his Champion was or perhaps didn’t even know his Champion existed?
She teared up, because she had read enough of my blogs to understand the layers that a Champion might be under. She knew he’d experienced incredible early trauma.
With tears of compassion for him, she asked: “Could he unconsciously be creating chaos because he didn’t “get” how I lived? And that he saw that I would go to the opposite extreme of a dull life trying to bring balance to our relationship?”
I asked why she would suspect that, knowing she’d process her own answer.
She began to wonder out loud, “When we met, he would praise the high quality of my life, and the discipline and balance that I had. But as time went on, the very things he said he loved about me he’d criticize. I was confused. But I don’t believe he intentionally did anything to cause any harm.”
I assured her that likely he did not. But when someone is on one end of the teeter totter while you were standing in the middle attempting to bring balance, that no balance can occur.
Usually we choose one of two things:
- To join them at their end of the teeter totter (in this case, the chaos increases)…
- Or walk out to the opposite end in an attempt to bring balance.
“That is exactly what happened!” she proclaimed with new understanding. I could see a mixture of confusion, accompanied with a sense of hope.
I encouraged her to consider something new…To get back in the middle (get back in balance) and invite him to join her.
Even if you’re not dealing with a partner on the opposite end, I would encourage you to find a city park. Start at one end of the teeter totter and walk to the middle and learn to gain balance.
I had done this a lot as a child because I grew up across the street from a ballpark. I played out there by myself for hours, and my favorite thing (other than swinging from the monkey bars or jumping out of highflying swings) was to learn to stand in the middle of teeter totters and keep it perfectly balanced.
When I discovered that there was a Champion in me, as a young adult, I would go to a city park in Commerce, Texas and stand in the middle of the teeter totter, learning once again about living in balance.
What about you?
If your life is chaos, you are likely medicating. I’m a big believer in rehab, 12 step programs, etc. However, all of that great work, without discovering your Champion, will likely leave you struggling with addiction choosing one new addiction after the other. (Example, some give up barbiturates for food, then give up food for alcohol, then give up alcohol for smoking).
If your life is dull, I’m a big believer in finding your purpose and pursuing it passionately. But that’s normally a short-lived journey (as the passion fades away) until you discover the Champion within.
Is your life out of balance? Your Champion will help you bring it into beautiful balance…If you will reach your hand out to them.
5. OUR RELATIONSHIPS SUFFER TREMENDOUSLY.
We are rarely present, we lose all empathy and compassion, we diminish the people around us.
Not because we are bad people. Simply because we are not operating at our very best, and our understanding of our impact on others is damaged. Sometimes to the extent of being blind to what we are doing to those we love the most.
Usually to the same extent that we have been hurt.
- If we’ve experienced trauma, deep hurt, major disappointment…
- Which buries our Champion…
- And do not get any sort of healing or resolve…
- We unconsciously repeat that onto others.
My client had told me that she had lost any sense of concern about her husband. Yet she loved him deeply. When sharing that, she pled: “What’s wrong with me? It’s like I’m the wicked witch wife. It’s like someone or something has stolen my tender heart, my soul that longs to help others…”
“Now I can hardly cope. I’ve never yelled in my whole life, but I find myself yelling. I find myself saying things that I don’t mean. It’s like I’m trying to find some way to save myself…Because I’m falling apart!”
I finally had the moment to explain to her, that she had lost her Champion. The part of her that had such great heart, compassion, and care. That part of her had been buried beneath pain, shame, and some trauma.
Not that he had intentionally done it…It had just happened.
I assured her that she did not need to be institutionalized, although she’d made her first appointment with me thinking that she did.
I said to her, what I desperately wish someone had said to me at a very similar time in my life: “No one understands what’s happening to you, including you. You did not become the wicked witch wife. You are not feeling near a breakdown because you are crazy.”
“Unbeknownst to you, and your husband, the dynamics of the relationship sent your Champion into hiding. The relationship dynamics piled pain, shame, and trauma layers on top of your Champion.”
“Your tender heart is still there.
Your compassion is still there
Your longing to help others is still there.”
“Who you are is not a person who wants to lash out or diminish anyone.”
“I will walk with you every step of this journey. We’ll work through the layers of pain, shame, and trauma. And if he’s willing, we will invite your husband to step in and learn to be a healing partner. He simply doesn’t know because his Champion is buried.”
We will definitely unbury yours, but if he will step in, I believe we will see two Champions emerge.
So as not to leave you hanging, he did indeed come in.
- We set up some ground rules
- We set up a process for them to enter the moment any chaos began
- We set up a process for conflict management
- We learned healing partner interventions together
- We did healing exercises around pain
- We did healing exercises around shame
- We did healing exercises around trauma
Both ways. Healing for his pain, healing for her pain, etc.
We have two Champions walking hand-in-hand. They’ve dreamed about their future. They’ve started a business to help couples just like them.
And I believe two Champions hand-in-hand is not a case of 1+1 = 2.
It’s a case of 1+1 = infinite power, love, joy, and peace!
I hope this has helped you begin to see that there are layers. And you have a better understanding of what happens to us when our Champion is buried beneath those layers.
There is a Champion in you.
Remove the layers.
Allow the Champion in you to shine forth.
A Champion alive and well brings us to an abundant, extraordinary life.
You deserve that. Your spouse deserves that. Your children (young or adult) and grandchildren deserve it.
How will any of them know about it or accomplish it…if you’re not the one to step up and lead the way?
Let’s do it…Champion!