Sunday, February 4, 2018

Old Movies

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Copyright (c) 2017 Renee Alter  Fort Groghan, Burnet, TX
I'm sure you have watched a lot of movies... romance, cowboys & Indians, old world wars, fairy tales, Walt Disney, Star Wars, murder mysteries, detectives, and more. Some left you feeling uplifted, some taxed your adrenaline surges, some left you sad and depressed.

Have you ever considered your past experiences as movies? When I began to do this, I gained a completely different perspective of them.

Imagine you are in the movie theatre. You have seen the trailer and decided you wanted to see it... based on about two minutes of previews. Then the movie starts.

The first scene is your childhood and you are the main character. You see your siblings if you have any, your parents, perhaps your grandparents or foster parents if they raised you. Or maybe you grew up in an orphanage. You see yourself in school. Perhaps you were popular or perhaps you were bullied. Perhaps you then came home to witness your parents shouting at each other so you hid in your room.

The next scene is you as an adult. Depending on how old you are now, the journey has been either short or a very long. It may have included illness, accidents, pain, depression, war, death, or a myriad of other possible scenarios.

But remember. You are in a movie theatre watching a movie. All movies end leaving you with the afterthoughts of what you have seen. Soon these memories fade away and are no longer in the forefront of your mind.

Your life has been a movie, too. This means, you can leave the theatre and if you didn't like what you saw or how it ended, you know it was JUST A MOVIE.

Two years ago, I met actor Randall Oliver. He co-wrote stories for children with my friend and fellow author Elaine Kelley about his horse named Nobody (which I published for them). Some of the movies Randy was in were Horror Movies--harsh, evil, and scary--so I wasn't interested in watching any of them, no matter how nice a man he is.

After having conversations with Randy about how he would get totally absorbed in the characters he portrayed, then have the ability to walk away from the set to re-acclimate back to his normal daily life, I came up with the idea of my life being a movie that I could walk away from.

I could pretend I was an actress and the characters in the movies I starred in (family, partners, etc.) were completely different people than the roles they portrayed, which provided me with a way to forgive.

I wonder what actors and actresses do with all the lines they had memorized, just as I had been ruminating about all the uncomfortable conversations I had.

One of the 10 cognitive distortions is discounting the positive. I discovered I had been 'afflicted' with all 10 cognitive distortions, but the one that relates to this post is how I had discounted all the GOOD things that I experienced while I dwelled on the sad, bad, and the ugly. It was as if I only had been collecting the bad movies in my movie box (my memories and subconscious) but didn't pay attention to the uplifting ones.

Consider your past a past filled with OLD MOVIES.

Your old movies can include previous marriages, the death of people and pets you loved, the traumas of the wars you fought while in the military, the traumas of the fires and natural disasters you were either a victim of or one of many rescuers, a horrific car accident you were in or witnessed, and more.

I realize there are many resilient people in the world who have the amazing ability to leave the 'theatre' of their experiences without holding onto the images of the 'movies.' But if you're not one of them...

You've now had plenty of experiences being on the set of those old movies playing various roles, and now imagine you have become a screenwriter and director.

What new screenplay will you write?

Who are the actors and actresses you want to play the parts?

How will you rewrite your life story?

Walk into a new movie!

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