I am at risk of getting Huntington’s Disease. This won’t mean very much to people reading this with no experience of it (it’s a neurological genetic illness), but to anyone who has the disease in their family that short sentence will be the springboard into an often traumatic story.
Here is what I grew up with: an alcoholic mother, who attempted suicide (I found her on more than one occasion) and who was eventually sectioned, I left school with virtually no qualifications, always felt the odd one out of all my friends, continually wished I was normal. My mother died of the complications from HD when I was in my twenties, my brother from the same disease in my thirties. I became convinced my life would be over by the time I was 40.
However, on the basis that anyone could get hit by a bus tomorrow or contract any one of a thousand illnesses which can kill you, once I hit 40 and I didn’t spontaneously combust I decided to choose a different path and write a different story for myself
I worked hard. Had two beautiful boys (both are doing very well in their chosen careers), have a wonderful loving husband who loves me regardless of what I may or may not have. And after 25 years working in the corporate world in 2017 I wrote my first book – “Your Life, Your Way” something I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams when I was growing up.
I now run a successful wellbeing practice in Norwich and am in demand as an executive coach for a global client base.
There are many times when I catch myself and think how lucky I have been. But, given my childhood, I would describe myself as anything but lucky. In fact, I’m fairly convinced that anyone who has HD in the family will tell you that being at risk of Huntington’s Disease does not fall under any plausible definition of “lucky”.
I created my own luck and got behind the wheel of my own destiny. I decided to ride against the harsh narrative of Huntington’s Disease, and create a different story of who I am and what I can achieve.
The power of a personal story is quite remarkable, especially if that is a story which is told over and over again, and lived with on a daily basis.
In my day to day work I meet many different people from all walks of life. One day I will be sat in the office of an investment bank in London coaching an over-stressed senior executive, the next I will be in my clinic in Norwich helping a middle aged woman deal with hot flushes and helping her get a good night’s sleep. And while my clients come from incredibly diverse backgrounds with a wide range of symptoms, there is a commonality which binds them.
The story they tell themselves.
My work often involves encouraging people to think differently about whatever situation they find themselves in, to create a different narrative and a way of thinking which will drive a different outcome. We are not our thoughts we are whatever reality we make for ourselves.
There is a very simple story model which I now use in my coaching.
Here is the model which many people run in their lives:-
EXPERIENCE in life drives CHOICES made in life which drives the STORY of their life that they tell others.
I encourage people to flip this model on their head
Create your own STORY which drives the CHOICES you make and this then drives your life EXPERIENCE
Imagine what it would be like to design what you want your life to look like, then make the choices and decisions to make that happen and enjoy wonderful experiences based on your story? Sounds good doesn’t it? Well you can.
If this seems simplistic…. Well…. It is. Sure, we might have to work at undoing the destructive power of a negative narrative which has been swimming around inside you for the past couple of decades, but the brain is a very powerful instrument, you can make it think differently.
And believe me…. If I can do this… anyone can!!! You are never too older nor is it ever too late.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to either message me or comment on Facebook.
If you are ready to make that leap and need a little more guidance why not check out my book – Your Life Your Way. It’s packed with practical advice, ideas, and exercises to help you live the life you deserve!