Why I Chose You
One of the biggest decisions we will make in our lives is who we will choose to be in our lives. And yet, for most of us, we assume that we have no choice. We live life as if it happens to us. What enables some of us to wake up and take conscious control of the shape of our lives? What enables some of us to set goals, achieve those goals, have faith, and feel whole?
There is no one single way to answer those questions. But my journey to answer them began early. Not because I am particularly special, but because, for me, it was a question of Self-preservation.
Many of us experience painful, traumatic or otherwise difficult experiences in our lives – some of these come early, some come in the middle of our lives, some begin and never cease. The idea of this book came to me when I realized two things. First, that our relationships – from family to teachers to friends to lovers to colleagues, bosses and even our pets – are opportunities for healing, overcoming betrayals, and ultimately letting go of these hurts so we can become fully who we are meant to be. Second, that I always have a choice to make regarding all of these relationships: I could think of relationships as happening to me by accident or I could accept the truth that we choose our relationships and for this reason, our relationships always have a story to tell us about ourselves.
You might be wondering how we can choose our parents or siblings. Or the difficult co-worker. Or the neighbor who would become a best friend. Or a first boyfriend or girlfriend. This is what I mean: when the universe (or God) puts you in touch with any person to whom you form a relationship, it is no accident. Rather it is an opportunity to figure out who that person is and why he or she is in your life.
Take my father. When I was born, he’d already been married and divorced and fathered four kids. His relationship with my mother began as an affair –then she got pregnant with me and my twin sister.
Before he became the man I knew, an angry, frustrated, selfish, abusive, gambler who caused stress in our household, he’d been the son of immigrants. Specifically, he had emigrated from Germany with his parents and brother to escape the Holocaust. Right there, in that fact about my father’s life, you can see some explanation for why he may have become a bit lost. Or at least, that’s what I held onto. That’s what I had to wrestle with so that I could learn to understand him.
Understanding that my relationship with my father was something I could learn from, that it, indeed, embodied a lesson for me, and was really the start of my journey. It’s what allowed me – enabled me – to become the strong, confident, resilient woman I am today. This process did not happen overnight. In fact, it’s a process that I still engage in daily – not only with still-present memories of my father but with all the people in my life.
And that’s what this book is about: it’s partly my story about how the shadows in my father’s life strangled him, making him more or less out-of-control and who died an early death. He left in his wake his children and his wives. I wanted to grow from this experience. So in this way, this book is my hero’s journey. And instead of embarking upon multiple quests to understand who I am and what my strengths are, I made a transformative shift in how I think about the relationships in my life.
This book is also for and about you. As I share my own relationship stories, showing how I cracked those relationships open so they revealed the lesson I needed to learn, I will also share the stories and lessons of others, showing how I have helped other women and men to re-possess the relationships in their lives and seize these relationships – good or bad – as opportunities to grow.
For ultimately, that is the purpose of this book: to offer you an opportunity to grow and become the person you want to be. By looking (or relooking) at my relationships, I discovered insight, patterns of behavior, and the various seeds of myself. By taking what I had learned from the estimable Tony Robbins, I became a Life Coach. I built on the Six Needs that I learned from Tony, and created a new way for people to think about themselves and their lives. I identified five basic needs that we all that tend to play out in our relationships. These needs, like Tony’s, are based on the Maslow hierarchy, but reinterpreted for now; they are:
1. The basic need to care for one’s physical self. To treat our bodies with nourishment and respect.
2. To create a safe environment at home and at work in which to live.
3. To build a community or partnership where you feel connected to people you love and love and care for you.
4. To develop skills and inner understanding of yourself that makes you feel competent, able to bounce back from failures, and independent of what other people think.
5. To arrive at self-awareness. A place in your mind, heart, and soul where you can feel free to create, meditate, and spontaneous.
Research shows that as human beings we are all motivated by these essential needs. But some of us get tripped up at the more basic levels and have a difficult time even imagining the self-esteem of confidence, never mind reaching a place of self-actualization.
This book will show how our relationships offer us lenses through which we can see the stumbling blocks or challenges that might be in the way of our true selves.