I grew up listening to the motivational speaker Zig Ziglar saying “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish!”. My parents had audio tapes they listened to while we were driving. In fact, while driving around on vacation one summer, I think we listened to all the tapes Zig had ever produced for one week!!! My father had just started his own manufacturing company Weiland Doors Inc after going broke farming, and I think he was trying to pump himself up with positive motivation that would help him sell his product… Our family had very little real money at that time, although my Dad always worked to make sure we had enough.
In his book, Smell the Dirt, my father Leon Weiland wrote about how his father had a goal to become a landowner. My own father helped to work the farm, and he feared his father’s anger. His father was working so hard to reach his financial goals and own his own land that he frequently became frustrated.
I have many clients who are overcoming this kind of developmental trauma. Therapists call it developmental trauma when someone has a repeated history of many incidents of not feeling safe in their family relationships growing up. I have so many teens and adults who are fighting to finish better than they started, and I am honored to be a part of their process. When people go through numerous experiences of being emotionally neglected, being physically abused, going through sexual violations, or being exposed to drug use early in their life – it changes their neurological wiring and creates emotional reactions later in life that can cause all kinds of havoc in their relationships.
For all of you who are fighting to overcome developmental trauma or other life struggles, I want to remind you “It’s not where you start in life, it’s where you finish.” And sometimes just finishing in a mental state where you feel at peace is quite an accomplishment!
I myself helped work the farm at times growing up. I didn’t really see this as a deficit; my parents made sure I also had time to play sports and to go to summer camp. However, I will tell you that walking up and down bean fields cutting weeds in the summer heat for many days was something that made me appreciate being able to study in an air-conditioned classroom! Perhaps this is one of the reasons I loved school and learning!!!
I have finished further and farther than many people I know, and I attribute my successes to the challenges I have had in my life. My own children are surpassing the accomplishments I had at their age, and I trust that they will have more emotional and financial wealth than I have had. But not because of entitlement; they have also had to work hard to accomplish their goals.
For some of us… hard work and even some deprivation can make us stronger. I am proud of my father who overcame developmental trauma and growing up without land to build a national company. My own children are now working hard to attend elite colleges and to do things that I would not have even dreamed of! What this boils down to is that in my own family of origin, we have broken generational patterns of family abuse, developmental trauma, and poverty to create a life of emotional security, familial bonds, and financial success.
And, if this something you are also striving for then I hope to help you do the same. Let’s set your therapy goals and your life goals high!
Because no matter where you are in your journey, remember… “It’s not where you start… It’s where you finish!!!”