Nearly twenty years ago a five year old girl was playing Mary in the school Nativity Play. When it was her cue to leave the stage she did so with Joseph in his tea towel but forgot the Baby Jesus who she left abandoned on the stage.
As the audience started to realise her mistake and laugh she was told to go back on stage and fetch him which caused further hilarity for everyone else but mortification for this little five year old.
Over thirty years ago I was involved in a drama competition which went on over several days against all the other drama clubs in the county.
On the evening of the Awards Ceremony I was sitting with my friends in the audience when the nominations for the category of Best Young Actress in the county were announced.
And there amongst the nominees was my name.
I was rooted to my chair as my friends started telling me that I’d won and verbally pushing me out of my seat and towards the stage.
This sixteen year old me had just reached the foot of the steps leading up to the stage when the adjudicator stopped me in my tracks and in front of the audience said that she hadn’t read out the winner yet.
My mind cut between the distance back to my seat, the door to my left which I could run out of and the huge display of flowers in front of me. I was frozen to the spot, staring at the flowers, knowing hundreds of people were looking at me.
Someone was on my side that night as the envelope was opened and relief flooded me as the winning name was announced to be mine.
Incidents like this can be held tightly by the unconscious mind and fire off warning shots if we’re ever in a similar situation again.
I was saved by another drama competition a few weeks later where once again my name was read out in the nominations. This time I sat firmly in my seat until my name was once again announced as the winner. Only then did I leave my seat and take the walk to the stage, mentally nodding at another display of flowers, having got it right this time.
Back to the five year old who had left Baby Jesus on the stage that day and that little girl was now a young woman seeking my help. Those few moments in that young life had lodged in her mind and created problems ever since.
And so we began changing her experience back then. We popped her back on stage in her mind and helped that little one go back to fetch the baby, take a bow and enjoy the laughter and applause this time. We went even more over the top and made it into a comedy sketch as if it was meant to happen and she was brilliant. So brilliant this time that I think she should have got the award for Best Actress instead of me, but without the bit where I wished the ground would swallow me up at the Awards.
It’s never too late to change an experience that’s had a negative impact. Play with it in your mind, put your older, wiser self in to help you, make it funny, make yourself stronger, more confident, whatever you need.
Turn your own Baby Jesus Incident into something that can empower you instead.
I wish you deep happiness this Christmas and always.