Contact Me


I’m in Trouble with The Nuns!

You may think, since I’m a life coach, I’ve probably worked out all my “stuff” from childhood … emotional traumas … perceived slights … disappointments … fears … disempowering beliefs.

Uh, no.

Would that it were so!  Not that I haven’t done pretty darn well with most of it, but resolution of these pesky mental and psychological bugaboos is seldom achieved all at once and completely.  I don’t care who you are.  That stuff is there.

Some of it is pretty persistent, and you can be largely, or even wholly, unaware of how active it still is until something triggers a reaction.

Case in point:  We’ve had a problem with a burner on the stove for the last couple of weeks.  No matter what setting you put it on, it heated at high.  So, we had a repair guy come out.  He said we needed a part, which he ordered and had sent to the house.

My explicit instructions were to not open the package in case they sent the wrong part, so we could send it back unopened if needed.

Simple.  Got it.

But, on the day the part came in, I got two other packages of similar size.

I opened the package with the part by mistake.

Oh no!  An immediate feeling of dread.

My first thought?

I’m gonna be in trouble!  

Trouble with whom exactly?  The nuns!

What?  Where’d that come from?

For those of you who went to Catholic school, you know what I’m talkin’ about.

The nuns were the law, and the unruly were dealt with swiftly with a rap on their knuckles with the ever-present ruler.

I’m not gonna say I was a genuine troublemaker at Our Lady of Pompei, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t be pretty sassy and test the boundaries of acceptable behavior.  Nothing serious.  Just the kind of things kids do.  So, I had my share of run-ins.

For instance, we girls would roll-up our skirts at the waist to make them shorter.  When apprehended, the nuns would staple brown paper towels from the bathroom to them, so they’d extend all the way down to your ankles when you knelt down.  You didn’t get away with much.

The nun I remember most vividly was Sister Proxates (pictured in the photo on the left).  She was probably in her seventies at the time, but, to me, she seemed ancient.  If you’d asked me at the time, I would have said she was at least a hundred!

One day, I got in trouble with three separate nuns for three separate instances, and I knew several phone calls were coming to the house that night.  I announced I was very tired and went to bed early, so I wouldn’t be around when the bombs dropped!

It all seems pretty funny now, but I was struck by just how instantaneous the deeply conditioned, Pavlovian reaction was when I opened that package.

There might as well have been a gaggle of nuns standing in my kitchen frowning disapprovingly, rulers at the ready.

That little, insignificant incident just brought back to me, in a really visceral way, how tenaciously our subconscious minds can cling to certain memories and trigger the emotions associated with seemingly trivial events from long, long ago.

We can analyze why our brains work that way.  We can explain the neurological connections involved.  That’s all pretty interesting, but when it comes down to it, carrying that stuff around with us is just part of being human.

We live with it … more or less successfully.  And I guess one of the hallmarks of a “good life” is that we somehow learn to live well, despite all the stuff inhabiting our “monkey minds.”

The key to “success” in this regard is to recognize when you get strongly triggered by something in the here and now that it’s really coming from something in the way back when.  By identifying the cause, you defuse the emotional charge.

I haven’t encountered an actual nun in years.  And yet, that doesn’t mean they aren’t still with me.

But now, at least I can smile when they make me jump.

I might even thank them … albeit somewhat reluctantly … for keeping me in line.



If you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter

Request Time With Denise


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!