Testing our truths
Vail, CO, Colorado
Below is my personal account of why you should periodically “check your truths.” What was true for you at one time may not be true now. You may even find yourself released from the “cold, hard facts,” as I did. I was carrying around a story of limitations ” are you?
I write this column as I sit in the allergist’s office eating almonds. “What’s the big deal?” you ask. I’ve been “allergic to nuts” my entire life and have only recently done allergy tests to determine which nuts and how allergic.
I came in for initial skin testing two months ago, which showed that I am still very allergic to some nuts. But some of the nuts came back negative on the skin tests. What? I may not be allergic to almonds and peanuts?
The idea for testing began when a friend was telling me about some allergy testing. As her story ended, she asked, “Have you ever been allergy tested for nuts?” No, I hadn’t.
Where did this story begin? It started before I was born. My older sister was very allergic to nuts. They discovered this one day at naptime when my mom was making cookies with walnuts. When my sister woke up, her eyes were swollen shut. She was allergic to something, but what? After a battery of allergy tests, they found she had a severe allergy to all kinds of nuts.
When I was born, I assumed “the story.” Like all careful parents, mine were cautious when introducing foods, especially nuts. Sure enough, once or twice, I accidently ate something with nuts and had a reaction. The conclusion: I, too, was allergic to all kinds of nuts. Thus, the story.
The story was reinforced every so often when I mistakenly ate a nut and had a reaction. One time I ended up in the Emergency Room and I now carry an Epi-pen.
So why did I want allergy tests now? Curiosity, I guess.
After the initial tests came back negative, I returned for more intensive skin tests to confirm the results. I also brought in samples of the foods to be tested in the doctor’s office where medical attention is immediately available. Imagine my thoughts while holding a peanut to my lips for the first time.
Half an hour after eating the peanut there was no reaction. The physician’s assistant congratulated me, saying that sometimes people can’t finish the test because they freak out. Even if they aren’t allergic, they feel symptoms simply because they have always believed themselves to be allergic. Luckily, I remained calm. No reaction. But before adding these foods to my diet, they suggested returning to the office to eat a larger quantity of the food. I would increase my intake from one peanut to six.
Back to today. It’s been 10 minutes since I ate six almonds. No reaction. Just two days ago, I was in this office doing the same test with peanuts. Not allergic! That night my family threw me a “peanut party,” complete with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, roasted peanuts, and peanut butter. I tasted all of it and loved it. What had I been missing all of my life?
So why write about this in a life coaching column? This experience is a metaphor for the stories each of us creates, adopts and repeatedly tells. Just ask any of my friends, family or co-workers and they’ll re-tell the story of my allergies to all kinds of nuts.
But I’m not allergic to ALL nuts. Not anymore.
How long have I been telling this story and it hasn’t been true? Could I have had peanut butter sandwiches in elementary school?
It’s been half an hour since eating the almonds and still no reaction. This means I can add almonds into my diet. This is mind (and possibly waist) expanding! My first stop, Enstrom’s Toffee!
So my question to you is what kinds of stories do you tell yourself, that you have accepted as truth and possibly never gone back to explore, test and update?
Coaching Challenge: Look for one of your own “stories” that describes what is “true” for you. It may be tough to see, like a fish trying to see the water around him. It is part of your world that you accept as “truth.” Start asking questions. Carefully test the water. What kind of treat (peanut butter) is waiting for you as you update your story?
Sheri Fisher is a Life Coach who lives in Grand Junction. Her practice, Living On Purpose, focuses on personal and professional coaching. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. If you have topic suggestions, e-mail or comment on Sheri’s blog. Sheri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information, visit http://www.coachwithsheri.com.