Music has always been a really important catalyst for me. A catalyst of emotion and change and inspiration and expression and identity. I am a singer. I don’t perform much outside of my car these days, but it is still part of the fabric of who I am.
Singing is a strong gauge for me of my outlook and attitude. When I am in a cynical, low vibration place, I barely want to listen to music and definitely don’t sing along. When I am feeling gratitude and higher vibration emotions, I can’t wait to turn on music and sing with abandon in the car.
This gives me an opportunity to get curious. When I don’t want to sing, I get curious. What’s going on with me? Where is my head at? What am I thinking about and feeling?
I can do the same thing when I am wanting to sing…check in. What’s going on with me, what am I thinking about and feeling? Sometimes I’m just living, sort of above awareness of what is going on under the surface…so I love these external signals to check in.
Other things I notice and look for as “check in signals”…me heading to the candy tub in my pantry. If I find myself in there bending down, searching for something…there is a reason.
Much of the time a reason under the surface that requires a spotlight in the form of compassionate curiosity. What’s going on Natalie? I ask myself, and I go inside for the answer.
Scrolling or shopping when I have something else on the calendar-like a work project, or housework or errands. That’s a strong signal to pause and check in.
So back to music. The other day I turned on an old playlist that I created probably 15 years ago and haven’t listened to in a while and a song came on and with it a super clear, detailed strong memory from my childhood.
I was like 7 and I was at my mom’s house in her extra bedroom that had hardwood floors and a rug and a twin bed and a radio-and the song “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper came on. And I remember twirling and humming along and just loving the song. That was the memory.
It was not emotionally charged or connected to a trauma or an important event. It wasn’t life changing or even life impacting. It was just a regular weekend night at my mom’s, just like any other, and that is the only piece I remember. But it’s super easy to recall whenever I hear that song.
I told my daughter about that memory in the car when the song came on and she said “That sounds like a core memory mom”. A reference to one of my favorite movies, “Inside Out”. So I wondered why that moment was so clear. Why it would be a core memory.
I started to think of other memories I have from my childhood that are attached to music. One is of me and my step sister at a campground outside of Yellowstone eating jolly rancher sticks and pretending they were microphones standing on a cement pad near the playground singing Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” at the top of our lungs for the world to hear.
And another at my favorite aunt’s house listening to Whitney’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” on her record player having a little dance party in the middle of the day.
All of these memories are around the same age-7 to 8. Which was a very formative time period for me. I had some trauma in my life at the time that I took on as my fault and was just overrun with shame, guilt and confusion.
My identity shifted from an innocent little girl, to a girl who was broken and bad and had to keep lots of secrets so no one would find out I was broken and bad. It was a lot for a 7 year old to manage all on her own and hold inside.
That was when I learned to hide in order to survive.
And so when my daughter said-that sounds like a core memory, and I started to think more deeply about this, and then googled when those 3 songs came out and saw that my memory was correct-all 3 of them came out in 86/87 when I was in fact 7 and 8. I had this affirming epiphany.
Those seemingly mundane moments, that have stayed vivid for nearly 40 years, are not mundane at all. The reason those songs spoke to my little soul and have remained in my brain all this time is because of the messages they had for me. That my soul could understand, even if it went right over my tiny 7 year old head.
You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small
But I see your true colors
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow
Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston, my favorite singer of all time ever who I named my very first fur baby after.
Everybody searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
And so I learned to depend on me
I decided long ago
Never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all
I imagine my little self hearing those words on a deeper level, a level she so desperately needed to hear them on…her soul level.
That no matter what had happened or was happening, that she had everything she needed inside.
That her value was innate. That who she was was enough. That she didn’t need to hide forever.
And they still live inside me as a reminder of those truths. They are core memories because they shaped me and gave me a small hope that someday I would learn how to forgive and move forward and love all of myself, especially the struggling parts.
My little self was doing her best while dealing with all of her worry about being good and right.
Forgiving your past self
I have a coach/teacher who shared this concept with me: imagine we are a full bottle of water when we are born. When things happen to us as we grow, we fracture, we divide in order to survive.
A little of us, often the painful, hurt, or struggling part is poured out into it’s own compartment so that we can stay strong and keep fighting. It happens over and over again until hopefully and eventually we learn how to reconnect with, reunite with, and reincorporate all of our fractured parts back into a beautiful patchwork whole.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…
we have to learn to forgive ourselves for everything we have done to survive.
It’s important that we open up to our little selves. That we get down on their level and look at the world through their eyes and understand their pain and their choices.
And that we forgive them for what they did to survive.
It’s important that we open up to our young selves, and our teenage selves, and our young mom selves, and our last year selves, or for many of my clients their pandemic selves and forgive them for what they did to survive.
Why is this important?
Because your relationship with these past versions of you is part of your current relationship with you. How you learned to regard yourself in the past, is informing how you regard yourself today.
And your relationship with yourself matters.
Because as you know, it drives and determines how you treat and show up for yourself in your weight loss journey and beyond.
How to connect with your past self
Here’s an exercise to connect with these versions of you.
Obviously you have to start with recalling some of these times when you fractured and compartmentalized
1) Draw a horizontal line on a piece of paper and go through and make a timeline of some of those pivotal events in your life where you think a fracture happened.
2) Imagine going back in time-if you have pictures of yourself in these periods, it’s helpful to actually look at yourself and ask her what she wants you to know? What message does she have for you? What do you need to hear from her? What is her point of view?
3) Think about what you would say to her-write her a letter or record her a voice message. What does she need to hear from you? What is your message to her? What can you share with her about what she is going through from your point of view?
Generating compassion for these younger versions of yourself that were doing their best to survive, can be so healing to your relationship now.
Imagine your little self and her struggles in your hard moments to increase your understanding and compassion for your current self.
Notice how you talk to yourself now and imagine saying the same thing to that little girl.
Bring that relationship into the present-reincorporate it into your relationship with you so that all of the parts that make up your beautiful complex whole can be seen and experienced.
If you want more help on forgiving and connecting with your past self, let’s chat.
Love you all my friends. See you soon!