Human beings are storytellers and how we describe our lives and weave the pieces and parts together is a reflection of our outlooks and becomes part of the fabric of our personalities. The personal stories we tell not only paint a picture of our past, they color the life we are living today.
“In telling the story of how you became who you are, and of who you’re on your way to becoming, the story itself becomes a part of who you are. . . . a person’s life story is not a Wikipedia biography of the facts and events of a life, but rather the way a person integrates those facts and events internally—picks them apart and weaves them back together to make meaning.” The Atlantic, Julie Beck,
Finding meaning in life’s ups and downs is one of the aspects of life that researchers believe is related to longevity. The more meaning you find along the way, the better able you are to “wobble” or bounce back after adversity, and perhaps the longer and happier life you live. (For a great story and insights about longevity, click here.)
Growing-up most, if not all of us, engage in “autobiographical reasoning”. We link circumstances and outcomes, we ascribe meaning to events, comments and the behaviors and actions of others. We then create stories about who said what and why, or how and why things happened. Some of those stories are good, but others lead us down darker roads: “Mom always liked Sharon best, no doubt she will prefer her kids over mine.”
We then tell these stories so often (to ourselves and to others) that they become part of our world view and may even begin directing our actions. I’ve learned to gently examine the stories I create, and I am much better at not predicting negative endings. There truly is no comfort or value in being right about something negative.
Sad and bad things happen, no doubt about it, but when we consistently create stories that give top-billing to blame and pain, we do a disservice to ourselves and all the folks we tell our stories to. I truly believe simply saying “I am scared.” or “I am sad.” is much better for our souls and psyche and will help us wobble our way through life.
Your perspective is truly one of the most important parts of your story, and yes, at times creating new or rewriting old stories may be scary and lonely, but the pay-off might just be a longer, healthier and happier life.
The Parable of the Arrow
A man was walking through a forest, when suddenly seemingly out of nowhere, an arrow pierced his thigh. He felt a sharp pain. Then, immediately following he felt anger. The thought quickly came. Where did the arrow come from? Who shot it? I’m going to find him. He must be punished. He finally pulled the arrow out of his leg. Gradually the physical pain went away and the wound healed. His anger continued for days. His thoughts of anger and frustration reoccurred for the rest of his life.
Another man was walking through a forest. When seemingly out of nowhere, an arrow pierced his thigh. He felt a sharp pain. He took out the arrow and continued walking. The wound healed.
Adaptation from a Buddhist Teaching
How do you want to live? The choice is always yours.
Good Monday Morning!
Did you know that studies show that watching a nature video or film can increase your happiness, and expand positive emotions such as awe and amusement?
To get your morning off to a great start, I am sharing this beautiful 25 second video of my high school and FB friend’s majestic peacocks. Take a moment to watch and I guarantee you will feel a difference. (You can add a few deep breaths to enrich the impact.)
Being in nature is an even better easy, care-free way to elevate your mood and create joyful feelings. As the earth begins to thaw in the northern climates and the heat rises in southern ones, it is a great time to venture outdoors to see what Mother Nature is up to.
Don’t miss the chance this spring and summer to experience this free pick-me-up. And, do share photos of your natural memorable moments – we will all benefit from your discoveries just by viewing them.
At our Wishful Thinking Women gathering this weekend we were talking about “taming” our egos. Because of ego influence, I think many folks believe that change is often too hard to even attempt. We believe that we must live according to the whims of our egos and this ego-inspired belief is what keeps us stuck in a permanent state of ego-matic pilot making change seem difficult or overwhelming.
In a state of ego-matic pilot, we throw away or delay the possibility of love, our dreams, losing weight, going to college, getting a better job, being the kind of Mom, Dad, wife, husband, friend or colleague we want to be and so much more. We think it is all too hard for us to attain, or maybe worse, that we don’t deserve the fulfillment or happiness those changes may bring. In ego-matic mode we create explanations and excuses to support our negative perspectives and then use them as justification for our personal pity parties or our failed prospects and attempts.
I don’t believe we need to tame our egos, they are just another part of us, but I do believe we can calm them and neutralize their perceptual stranglehold on our actions and emotions through awareness, acceptance and fulfillment.
Here is my Wishful Thinking Works plan for releasing yourself from ego-matic pilot:
EX: The next time you start beating-up on yourself for eating too much or too little; saying too much or too little; doing too much or too little, etc., etc. – STOP, take a deep breath and tell yourself “I love you, I love you for this choice and all the others you have made in your life. I will accept you as you are this very minute.” Take one more deep breath, exhaling slowly.
This simple, momentary change of thought and heart yields tremendous power. It not only pulls you out of your negative auto/ego-matic pilot, it signals the brain to release a more relaxing set of chemicals and hormones and offers you what we all need more of – love and support – thereby increasing the possibility you will be more open to seeing, feeling and sharing love and support with yourself and others in the future. Try it, and repeat it every time you slip back into any negative auto/ego-matic thinking! (I know this will be a change for you, so please re-read Steps 1 & 2 and then repeat as necessary.)
Please note: If you were beating-up on yourself for having said or done something to someone that hurt them now is a good time to apologize, and if your ego-matic mind ramps-up to dissuade you, repeat Step 3, and then go for it. Here are some tips on apologizing to help you out.
Don’t tie yourself or your life up in knots thinking change or life is too hard. Don’t hide from hope, don’t turn your back on possibilities and please, no matter how many times life knocks you down, believe better is possible.
If you find yourself flat on your back, emotionally or physically, don’t worry about jumping right back up, simply take a deep breath, let a feeling of peace wash over you, repeat the words in quotes in Step 3 and then relax knowing better days are ahead.
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