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Thursday, April 2, 2015

One Word Derailed My Successful Life (Guest Blogger)

There’s an exciting thing about the mind … while it works endlessly to protect the one it serves, it can judge stuff in black and white. The mind can be adept at the process of dissociation to defend its human it helps from painful memories of traumatic experiences. This is generally considered a good thing. It might choose to release the stored memories at a later time, once its human is a safe distance away from the danger. Then again, it might not.

Along with all the memories of trauma and pain and suffering, the mind might also sequester memories of non-threatening events. It’s hard to say what could get tagged for long-term dead storage, never to be seen again.

After living the first 16 years of my life in a most dangerous environment, I have now spent a couple of decades unpacking the storage locker of my mind, slowly sifting through the myriad experiences locked in my own dissociation vault, blowing off the dust, and looking them over one by one. It can be a painful process at times, and I feel endless gratitude for the skilled professionals who have held my hand along the way. Interestingly enough, there have been some relatively benign memories locked away there, too.

Imagine my surprise when I realized the profound importance of one word recently. It was a word I have used many times in my life. It isn't a curse word … a “dirty” word … in any way, but it is a word that my mother often used throughout my growing up, which she always said with a lot of emotion and emphasis. Apparently, my mind thought this memory was threatening enough to be locked away for my own protection. My mother often said,

“A lady must never be conspicuous!

Now understand, she wasn't just talking about wearing gaudy colors or white shoes after Labor Day. Her admonition was filled with Lindbergh-Baby Fear … that’s “Capital F- Fear.” With my curly blonde hair spilling down my back, startling blue eyes, and willingness to smile at practically anyone, she was terrified that a kidnapping was in my future … even though she wasn't married to Charles Lindbergh. She had grown up and lived most of her life with a modicum of affluence ... that, together with her tendency to “put on airs” at times, led people to assume her family was quite wealthy. In fact, the opposite was true. Her best option was to impress upon her darling little girl – me – the virtue of being inconspicuous. I grew up with this principle as my guiding force.

Now, let’s fast-forward this movie to the present day. Most people under 40 have never heard of the Lindbergh Baby. However, I am now living a life which is bringing me ever closer to the public eye. I want to teach … not just in a classroom … but on a grand scale, to dozens and hundreds, maybe even thousands of people. I want to tell the world about the lessons I've learned and the wealth of experiences which life has brought me.

But I don’t!

I sit!

I do my job …

and nothing more.

Why? I beat my head against a wall.

I seek professional help.

I pray … Dear God, “What is holding me back?”

Then one day not too long ago in speaking with a dear friend, I hear my mother’s voice in my head saying, “One wouldn't want to be conspicuous.”

Oh HOLY COW! How can I ever get up on stage with this fear of my mother’s rooted in my mind? Of course, I would never take the first step to achieve my dreams. Her message … inconspicuousness is next to Godliness … is my guiding force. Having dissociated from the power of this message, and the fear which created it, I was stopped by my own mind before I could ever get started.

I am ever grateful for the kind and gentle guidance of one of the most qualified professionals in this field, Dr. William Tollefson, and speaking with him about this recent discovery from the dead vault of my mind brought the relief I've been seeking. We worked with the “Blackboard Exercise,” which changed the message written on the virtual blackboard of my mind.

It goes something like this … closing my eyes and collecting my will to focus, I write the ineffective message of my mother’s on the blackboard in my mind … “One wouldn't want to be conspicuous.”  Then mustering all my will, I firmly shove this message off the board to the right and out of view of my mind’s eye. Then I write the message which will sustain me moving forward,

“I give myself permission to be in the limelight, and I am safe.’

That’s what it was all about. The dissociative mind is not a bad or evil thing. It is a self-protective device, without which many people suffer endless mental torture, re-experiencing their traumatic events. Often, they fail to survive. Now that I'm far removed from the horrors of my childhood, it is time to change the way I live. My guiding forces are those which I choose … those who will benefit my family and loved ones … those who will help each of you within the sound of my voice.

I'm just getting started …

Let me introduce you to Conspicuous Judy.

Judy Lee Thurber can usually be found on Facebook:

Dr. William Tollefson can be found in the following ways:


  1. Well, I can see you, and hear you! Yippee!

    1. Marian,

      We appreciate your comment.

      Judy and Dr. Bill

  2. Thank you, Dr. Bill. I'm honored.

    1. No Judy I am the one who is honored that you would guest blog on my site.
      I believe in the Blackboard Method so much and have used it successfully with survivors for years, but that is me.
      You are the first survivor who was willing and very skillful in putting the experience in your own words. To go against your own old negative and self-defeating core belief and take a risk in to become "conspicuous" to my awesome followers as well as the world. WOW what a testimonial.
      Thanks again.

  3. Dear Judy, you are a bright star. Shine! Shine! Shine!

    1. Isn't Judy the brightest wordsmith I know.

  4. Judy, your conspicuousness is a gift you give the world...and yourself! An I hope to personally enjoy that gift many more times in the future.

    1. Cyndi,

      I agreed that Judy is a gift. I hope she writes more. Thanks for your comment.

      Dr Bill

  5. Dr. Putnam TexelApril 6, 2015 at 4:21 PM

    The value of this post is quite simply - priceless. I sit here, typing, and say "This is me!" Although never told - don't be conspicuous - we, my sister and I, were brought up with "Children should be seen but not heard". Isn't this the same message just with different words? And isn't the implied message that we are not good enough? Well darn it, we ARE good enough. And thanks to Dr. Bill I have progressed from wanting to hide in a laboratory and pull data from damaged CDs or hard drives to help ongoing investigations of either hideous crimes or transpiration accidents. With Dr Bill's skills, personality, and support I have just completed my Ph.D. in Engineering Management and will be giving my first paper as a Ph.D. this week at an IEEE conference. I too am just getting started! Let my encore career begin !

    1. Yes your encore and fabulous awakening is beginning this week. Yes you have gone from wanting to hide to opening like a butterfly and beginning to recognize how beautiful you are. FLY, fly and fly some more. I am very proud that you have become the upper 1% of the country of those who have earned a Ph.D. You will be a role model for all who don't think they can make to the top. Well, you have. Thanks for letting me go along for the ride. Now the word "CAN" is a word that describes you.

  6. Bravo Judy! Love your writing, so eloquent and most definitely "Conspicuous". I had similar work to do, my parents meant well, I know they did their best, like most parents. Let your light shine bright!!!

  7. We should learn some basic facts about life from experts and experienced person. Through their struggling and successful stories we can get some positive inspiration. Here in this above article we can get some important tips on successful life and the most important fact is how to make a successful life and maintain it. Thanks for such wonderful experience.
    Life Coach

    1. Dear Tim Dyer,
      Thank you for the comments on the blog. It is important to know how some people experience situations and find some closure in their life to share with others.

      Thanks again.