Awakening Moment: Birthday Wishes

I was working with a young man that had been to years of treatment.  He had been at wilderness multiple times and was adept at pushing away help.  This student shared through genuine emotions that he was sick of being in treatment and wanted change in his life.  He then went on to say that his birthday was next week and he requested to not hike for his birthday.  I encouraged him to have his heart set on making the best for his birthday instead of having it set on having a day off.  I came back out into the field the following week and I heard that the students had a “hell week.”  I heard that the students hiked many miles, went over a mountain pass and had many days of rain.  I felt some anxiety course through my veins for my student that wanted an easy birthday.  I asked how he performed and staff reported that he performed really well.  I then went and spoke to the student about his experience.  He said that on his birthday he had been tired from previous days of hiking.  They started to hike and it began to rain.  On his birthday they went over the mountain pass in a rainstorm.  He stated that he was thinking of refusing to hike.  He was feeling really sorry for himself and gave himself all the reasons to not hike.  Then a new idea formulated in his heart.  He stated that he started to think, “If I can hike a difficult hike, in the rain on my birthday, then I can do anything.”  This student said that he will never forget his birthday hike.  Staff reported to me that he was the undesignated leader of the day on his birthday and that he selflessly encouraged and helped others through the challenging day.  On his birthday he chose to break through his old scripts of “do only what is pleasurable,” “life is always supposed to be easy,” and don’t take treatment seriously” and began a new pattern of thinking, “I can do hard things and succeed.”


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