I use the words ‘Collateral beauty’ a lot, and specifically in the context of that I want to inspire women across the world to find the collateral beauty in all areas of their lives, so I thought I would explain those words and what I mean when I use them.
A few years back now I was scrolling Netflix, looking for something easy to watch and I found a Will Smith movie called ‘Collateral Beauty’ that really intrigued me, mainly because of those words. I had never heard of it, but it’s Will Smith right, and apart from some of the films he’s been in, which are a little bit too Sci-Fi’y for me, I’ve liked all of his movies. so, I hit the play button, and for the next 90 mins I was captivated, and I would go as far as to say that this movie was quite a defining moment for me.
I won’t share the storyline, but what I will share is the message that I took from it, and that is everything that goes on around us is Collateral Beauty.
“I’m the darkness and the light, I’m the sunshine and the storm. Yes, you’re right, I was there in her laugh, but I’m also here now in your pain. I’m the reason for everything. I am the only “why.” Don’t try and live without me” Quote from movie talking about LOVE.
I am going to bet that will have heard the term collateral damage, in reference to the sequence of events or the scenario that plays out after a really difficult event or experience. So, the idea of Collateral Beauty and that subtle but powerful change in language for me was very intriguing, because I adore language and how we use it (you may know that already)
And it feels like the day I watched this movie for the first time, was the day the game changed and went up a level (again) for me both professionally and personally.
I believe in this life, we get a choice about the way we see our life, and everything that’s been involved in that life. We get choices as to whether we allow it to define us in a powerful way or whether we allow it to define us in a less than helpful way.
I like to see my life as Collateral Beauty, each and every piece of my lifetime jigsaw puzzle, makes up a beautiful landscape. Some of those pieces were intense, heart-breakingly devastating, rocky, hardcore, a test of resilience, messy, clunky and many days where I felt hard done by, and truly angry at the world, whilst others are beautiful, joyful, easy, calm, relaxing and everything in the middle of that. As I sit here and type, I am 48 years young, and I consider every part of my story as Collateral Beauty.
So let me explain how I see this, in a little bit in more detail for you. Everything that we’ve experienced from conception all to current day, defines us and how we move through the world right now.
The way I see, the way I move through and the way I interact with people in the world is a direct result of my 48 years on this earth and all of those experiences make the Collateral Beauty landscape of my life. And remember, it’s not about all the great stuff, we kind of get lost in this wanting to just experience joy and happiness and all of the emotions that make us feel comfortable in our bodies.
I speak to my clients all the time about the importance of experiencing all of the emotions in our lifetime, because all of the life events that we experience are just as valuable, but they’re not as comfortable. Some of them are really uncomfortable. Some of them are really painful. Some of them are traumatic, but they define us and as I said before, we get to choose how they define us.
The way that we rose in the face of sadness and trauma and adversity, those strengths that we gained from doing that the vulnerabilities that we gained from those experiences, all of it, every single piece are a part of who you are right now.
Now, you might be sitting there thinking ‘Well hang on, though!’ I didn’t want or choose to experience an of this, or “I would change that in a heartbeat” “It was so traumatic that it makes me feel bad every single day” and I would agree with you. If I had the power to go back in time and make change, there is one thing and one thing alone I would change, but I can’t, and neither can you.
We don’t have that capability, we don’t have that magic available to us, to be able to go back in time and erase our past. All the tools I use as a therapist, don’t erase life events. I like to think they take the sting out of them initially so that we can be objective and subjective about those events and eventually learn and develop from them in a powerful, beautiful way. But we don’t have the ability to be able to change what happened to us.
We do however have the ability to is to change how we see that event or events, and I know for a fact I wouldn’t be here doing what I do, saying what I say:
- If I hadn’t had experienced divorce as a young girl,
- if I hadn’t have changed schools,
- If I had felt like I fit in school
- if I hadn’t have gone through difficult breakups in friendships,
- If I hadn’t had experienced my own divorce,
- if I hadn’t gone to a workplace when I was 17, where I experienced harassment in the workplace,
- If I hadn’t have had businesses that hadn’t worked so well,
- If my sister hadn’t died when she was 17 years old.
And more! (There is a whole ton of wonderful events in there to believe me)
The Good, the Bad, and everything in the middle, has shaped me into who I am today. And I get to choose who I am, as a result of that.
We absolutely get to choose, but please don’t get me wrong, there are days that I actively choose to be angry about those things. I actively choose, possibly unconsciously, but I’m still making a choice to feel frustrated about those things, but 9 times out of 10 I set the intention that I am going to see all of it as Collateral Beauty instead of collateral damage.
I am the result of everything, and the person I am today…..a strong, powerful, and intentional woman.
So just for today I would love for you to spend time reflecting on things that have happened in your lifetime that have created the person that you look in the mirror and see today.
Get curious and ask yourself “what have I learned through those or that experience?” and how does that define the woman I am today.
Just for today, stand in front of a mirror and look into your eyes and ask yourself the question What events have happened in my life that have meant that I show up today in a stronger, more powerful way.
I would love to hear from you if my words have resonated with you today, and if you are struggling to see the collateral beauty of your lived lifetime, I would love to support you to adjust your gaze and live a more aligned life.