My psychology teacher Miss Morrison was one of the most inspirational teachers I have had. She came into my life early in my teaching career. I always thought she was a bit “cuckoo” and had a few loose screws in her brain, but she was a fascinating teacher. Little did I know what a huge impact Miss Morrison’s would have on my life, because every time I go over her lessons in my head, I still find new messages I was too young to understand at the time.
No one had warned us about Miss Morrison. When my friends and I picked her classes, it was only because we had to take some psychology classes and hers were given at the best times of the day.
When she entered the first class, it was overflowing. There were people standing around the room with no seats. The classroom was designed for up to 40 people and there were nearly 100 students already. Miss Morrison entered with an angry look on her face. She was so rude you could say she barked her words.
She started reading the class roll and occasionally said to a student, “I don’t like this name. I’m going to call you…” and gave him or her a different name. She also skipped some of the names. When people commented about this, she said, “I only read the names I like to read”. Someone asked her, “What about the names you do not read? Will they be reported as missing?” but she just shrugged her shoulders and never answered.
The class was in terror. Miss Morrison was rude and abusive and I was not sure if I should laugh or cry.
The following week, I entered the class and there were only 17 students there. I remember wondering whether I was brave or stupid to stay in that class. After the previous abusive session, most of the students rushed to the office to change their timetable. Miss Morrison came into the class with a big grin on her face, “Great, it worked”, she said. We looked around at each other, understanding she had done it on purpose.
Only later in life, I understood it was a test of confidence. Only those who were not afraid of her, only those who dared to stay (or had no choice with their time table) could enjoy her wisdom. And only a courageous teacher could dare to take her students through such a test and survive the system…
The first question she asked was, “Who are you?” I was not one of the bravest and I was so afraid of her at that stage. I hoped she would never recognize me and that she would skip my name because she did not like it…
One woman in the class answered. I remember admiring her for the rest if our studies. She said, “My name is Amira, I’m a woman, I’m 26…”
Miss Morrison interrupted her, “Why did you tell me your name?”
Amira was shocked.
“Why do you think it’s important for me to know how old you are?” continued Miss Morrison, her list of questions going on and on.
We were confused at first, but this lesson started a journey of self discovery for all of us. For 4 years, she kept telling us the way we described ourselves was our identity and vice versa.
Years later, when I became a life coach, I understood the full depth of the question “Who are you?” and the types of stories it brings out of different people.
Every person has a story. This story is what we think of ourselves and how we present ourselves to others. Whether we like it or not, we dedicate our lives consciously and subconsciously to support this story, whether or not it is a nice story.
When we present our name, our gender, our profession, our religious background, our place of birth, our talents or our weaknesses, we declare they are part of who we are and we live life to support this declaration.
We become the stories we tell about ourselves
The real difficulty in life is that we believe our stories. When we have told them enough times, we find it hard to change them, because by telling them over and over again, we have convinced ourselves they were true representations of us.
The good news is we believe all the stories, including the good, happy and successful, ones like, “My name is Ronit, I’m a good mother, I love traveling and writing…”
The bad news is we also believe the bad, sad and failure, stories like, “My name is Ronit, I’m not very good with technology, I do not like it when my kids watch TV…”
So stories are not all bad. It only depends which of them you choose to tell yourself.
What’s your story?
If you want to discover your own story, write a letter introducing yourself to the world, as if you were a journalist writing a feature article about yourself. Tell the world who you are. Start from where you think the beginning is. Be honest and describe things as you perceive them, not the way you wanted them to be. Try telling the world how you have reached this point in your life. Write about the highs and lows. Feel free to write the truth. After all, you are the only person who will be reading.
When you are done, check your stories. Which of them are good? Which of them are not healthy for you? Find patterns that repeat. You will be surprised to discover what stories you tell yourself.
If you are a parent, your challenge is to make sure your kids tell powerful stories about themselves. To find out if this is the case, ask them to write a description of who they are. It will give you insights into their minds and what you can do for them to be whole a happy in life. If they are still young, they can draw and tell you what they have drawn. You will be amazed at what comes up in this little activity.
One of Gal’s clients took this exercise so seriously that it took him over 3 months to write his life story. In the process, he learned so much about himself, his fears, and his mindset. Gal received a copy of this story as a printed book and it was as brilliant as it was revealing.
I invite you to my blog, to read all my stories. Every day I write (I have already written over 300 days), I learn something about my own stories…
By the way, my psychology teacher is one of the stories of my life – I am living every day to support it.