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A Hole In My Heart

HoleHeartWhen I was 5 years old, we went on the first vacation I can remember. Our family didn’t vacation a lot, so this was a really big deal. There was only one catch.

I was told that there’d be a lot of walking and if I asked to be picked up ONCE or complained I was tired, we were going home! A lot of responsibility to put on a 5 year old.

At a very young age, my parents had deemed me a “lazy” child, mostly because when there was standing room only at church, I would complain of being tired and asked to be picked up. And I would get tired walking and playing.

The tag “lazy” has followed me my whole life. More on that in a bit, but let me tell you the rest of the story.

I made it through the whole vacation, never asking to be picked up!

When we returned, it was time to get me registered for kindergarten.

My pediatrician had recently died, so my mother took me to a clinic for my physical and shots. And that’s when my parents found out I had a birth defect … a serious heart condition called an atrial septal defect … a hole in the wall between the two chambers of the heart.

It made any physical activity a struggle. I was tired for a reason.

Although he knew of my condition, the pediatrician who died decided not to tell me parents about it, because nothing could be done. Surgery was necessary to fix the problem, and no child had ever survived that surgery … open heart surgery that required some very complicated, risky techniques that were yet to be proven.

The prognosis without surgery? Bedridden by 13. Dead by 18.

But lo and behold, I was the first child in New York State to ever survive the procedure! I made the front page of the papers and everything. Happy ending, right?

For sure.

AND, that tag my parents put on me … “lazy” … has followed me all my life.

So, what do you think my formula for success has been from the time I was little?

To be the over-achiever … to get more done … to work hard … to prove to the world how valuable, self-reliant, and vital I am … that I don’t need to be picked up!

I’ve known forever that I’m an overachiever and a recovering workaholic. That’s not news to me or anyone who really knows me.

But what I didn’t really put together until recently was the why … the connection back to the past … back to that little girl who was going to prove she wasn’t bad and lazy. I’ve been reacting to a label and trying to patch that emotional hole in my heart for a very long time.

That’s not freedom.

Is your past impacting your present and your future? Where? How?

What kind of hold does it have on you?   Are you connecting the dots and altering your behavior to fit your new insight … or just running on automatic, reacting to a trigger that got pulled long ago? 

Landmark Education, a company I admire and have mentioned before, says, “We’re never upset for the reason we think we are.”

An event or a person triggers us and we think that’s what we’re upset about. But, if we look behind the curtain … we’re almost always triggered by one of those old, core issues from the past.

If you truly want to be free, you have to be willing to look behind the curtain and consciously choose the behaviors that fit your true intentions in life vs. defaulting to the reflex reaction.

That’s where you’ll find the freedom you’re looking for.

Once you see what’s activating you, you can deal with it directly vs. wrestling with some boogie man you’ve inherited from the past.



Meet Denise: Denise Hedges is a Business Development Coach and Speaker Coach for small business owners who want to be more comfortable, confident, and successful with their sales and marketing efforts. She specializes in helping them use speaking as a way to dramatically improve their results!