My husband was born on Halloween. I’ve noticed that every time he tells someone his birthday, they respond with, “Oh, that must be so fun!”
In contrast, I was born the day after Christmas and every time I tell someone that, they quickly respond, “That must be SO terrible!”
Two birthdays. Two very different responses.
I wonder how much we both internalize and believe those people’s thoughts. I can’t speak for him, but when I reflect upon past birthdays, I see a pattern of dreading not only December 26th, but the whole Christmas holiday altogether.
This seems like such a small thing, but it highlights something that happens to all of us. We are taught things culturally and unless we examine those beliefs, we tend to adopt those ways of thinking for ourselves.
For example, yesterday I was coaching a client who is incredibly successful in her life. She’s also single. Based on the way people talk about her being single (I can’t believe you aren’t married!), she thinks that there must be something wrong with her.
When I pointed out that she gets to think any way she wants about being single, I could tell she kinda didn’t believe me. She has believed for so long that being married is normal and being single (especially past the age of 30) is an indicator that something is horribly undesirable about you.
Two relationship statuses. Two very different thought patterns.
So what can we do about this? We start by being curious and writing out all the things we “know” to be true. You get all the thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Then you check in about how those thoughts make you feel.
For my husband, it likely feels great when other people say positive things about his birthday. He’d want to keep thinking those thoughts.
For myself and my client, we likely both feel like shit when we believe those thoughts that other people offer to us. Those are the thoughts we’d want to work on replacing with thoughts that do serve us.
Here are some ideas for me:
I get to think anyway I want about my birthday.
Maybe they don’t know how amazing it is to be born the Day after Christmas.
Lots of other countries have super fun traditions on 12/26 (Boxing Day, Kwanzaa). There’s fun to be had exploring these traditions!
As I round the corner to another birthday, I can start practicing these new thoughts. I can decide ahead of time how I want to feel about this next birthday.