Imagine revisiting a place you’d been long ago during a hard time in your life. Maybe that time was long, long ago, and the place far, far away. Or maybe it was last week, and the place is the coffee shop down the street.
Whatever the story, you experience an unpleasant flashback as soon as you arrive or walk into this place. You remember what happened when you received terrible news, or you relive that thing that someone said to hurt you. Maybe your time in this hard place was even traumatic, and you can’t help but by reminded of it.
And it’s not just about the memories. You can feel it. The anxiety tightens, and maybe you’re short of breath. Perhaps this was a good place for other people, but for you, it sucked.
There’s no doubt about it: that thing was hard! Not just a little hard, but hard in a life-changing way. Back then, during the time of the hard thing, you had no idea how you’d recover. You couldn’t fathom ever being “okay” or normal again.
But maybe there’s also something good about this experience, the one that feels so unpleasant at first.
That hard time is in the past—maybe not entirely, but a big part of it is. Some of it has made you better, wiser, stronger. You made it through, even though you didn’t feel like you ever would. (It’s okay if you’re still making it through. It’s a process.)
And now when you revisit the place of the hard thing, it has less control over you. Now you can see it through a different perspective. Here’s the BEFORE, where you were last time. Look at how weak you were; feel compassion for the self you were then. But look, as well, at the self you are now. This is the AFTER. See how so much is different?
How does it feel to wake up at 3am and not be terrified? Sure, you wish you could sleep, but insomnia without anxiety is just jet lag. You stay awake for a while. You eventually fall asleep. It’s life.
This place can not control you. That person can not hurt you anymore, unless you let them in or are unable to let them go. Now is the time of feeling proud. Now is the season of the new you.
Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of Pursuit, The $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounge.
Image courtesy of Nikolai Ulltang.