Monday, May 23, 2016

Life is a Story

We each have a story, actually many stories.  Our lives are full of the stories that we tell ourselves.  We each have a story about family, our work, our home, etc. And I want you to know that if there is a story about your life that you don’t like, you can change it.  You can tell yourself a different story, for we are the author and each of us is writing a book of life.

We can literally tell ourselves a different story.  We can believe in a different story.  What we believe in, what we think and tell ourselves, matters for our thoughts give way to feelings. Feelings give way to actions. Actions give way to character. Character is our identity and what we use to create and write our book of life.  If we think a certain thought long enough it becomes a belief that we then act on. Take an inventory of your beliefs.  Do you believe life is fun or a struggle?  Do you believe in love at first sight or love is something to be earned?  Do you believe money should come easily or do you need to work hard for it? There is a danger in believing in a thought that does not serve you and then it comes out in actions of self-sabatoge.  There is also a danger in believing that what other people think matters. Your thoughts and feelings are fleeting and so are theirs. What do you want to believe in? Choose that. Yes, thoughts are a choice. They are not truth. What is truth? Truth is defined as 'in accordance with fact or reality'. But if our thoughts or feelings are fleeting then is it a fact? Is it truth? No. Truth is not your fleeting feelings or thoughts. But your feelings and thoughts do give rise to a 'truth for now'. Meaning as we grow and learn and have new feelings and thoughts we are creating a new truth for now, we are creating a new story. We are not the same person we were a year ago because we are not thinking or feeling the same things. We may be thinking happier thoughts or we may be thinking more depressed thoughts but they are not the same and the choice is ours.

If you don't like an aspect of your life, then change the way you think about it. Tell yourself a different story.  If you have different thoughts about it then you will feel and act differently and your life will change.  If you tell yourself a better, happier story your life will change for the better.  If something upsetting happens to you, or even traumatic, something that should never happen to anyone, it is okay, you can rewrite your story with courage.  Courage allows you not to get stuck in that sad story.  For if you do get stuck in a sad story your character starts changing and becoming sad.  That is depression. But even with a sad story we can find some silver lining about it, something, even if it’s small, to be grateful for.  And when we find that something to be grateful for that is what we can choose to think about.  We can do a paradigm shift.  We can tell ourselves a different story and think different thoughts and create a different life instead of being stuck in a story that doesn't help serve us. Maybe the story, at some point, did help us. Such as the story of love gone wrong and we aren't going to make that choice again. But do we really want to close ourselves off from all chances of finding love or do we just want to be smarter about it next time. We can learn from our stories and make better, healthier choices. That is the point. Learn and move on. The point is not to get stuck in them and replay them again and again in our minds and feel miserable about our book of life. 

When life blindsides you and you are working through a story that you don't have any control over or you wake up one day and you realize you don't like your story, you can learn to move through it with courage, the best way you know how. Feel your feelings. Get mad, get sad, cry, etc. whatever you feel, feel it. Do not numb yourself with distractions. Do not eat a gallon of ice cream, drink a bottle of wine or numb out on television. 

Feel your feelings because they are telling you something, but don't identify with them. We should not define who we are by our thoughts or our feelings. There is no truth in fleeting feelings. 'I am sad,' is not true. 'I feel sad' is true. Give your feelings space to be the energy that they are and let them come up.  Allow your feelings to communicate what they need to. Listen to them. Act accordingly for the highest good and then let them go. No need to hold onto them. No need to identify with them. In fact, unless they are feelings that make you feel good they need to be felt in order to be let go and nothing more.  If you don’t feel them then you can't let them go.  If you don't let them go they hold you down, emotionally and physically.  Feelings are energy and you keep that energy and store it in your body.  That is what stress headaches are. Stomach knots, shoulder pain, low back pain can all be areas too where you put your stress.  Stress occurs in the body when you are thinking thoughts or tell yourself a story that doesn’t make you happy.  It is at those times your body is telling you to tell a different story. The goal is to try to change your thoughts and change your story before it starts to change your character and affect your body.  You need to change your story when you don’t feel good about it. You know you are telling yourself the right story when you do feel good about it. 

When anger comes up as a feeling we tend to be confused by it.  It is an easy feeling to ignore for we have the stigma that nice people aren't supposed to get angry.  I want you to know that anger is nothing to be scared of.  It is a feeling that comes up to make us pay attention to what is going on for it is an indicator that something is not right.  If this feeling is ignored we act out in different ways.  We become passive aggressive or we take it out on others. Or maybe we are in denial and don't let ourselves feel it until one day it is too much pressure and we explode.  So next time you feel anger, first practice gratitude for it, because it is telling you to pay attention to something.  Then just be aware of your anger and really confront what is going on and use courage to change what needs to be changed in the situation so you feel safe again.  I will tell you most of the time what needs to be changed is not the other person involved in the situation but something within yourself needs to change that you are not seeing and your anger allows you to see it and do something about it.   If there is truly nothing you can change about the situation then acceptance is a choice.  It is a choice that will get you out of anger, vibrating higher and feeling better.

In your book of life if you don’t like your story about work or relationships but you like your story about taking sailing lessons then keep your thoughts on sailing.  Keep whatever thoughts make you happy.  Thoughts are vibration.  Vibration is energy.  Higher vibrating thoughts are happy thoughts.  The higher vibrating thoughts will give you more energy, put you in a higher vibrating place to have the energy to shift and move the lower vibrating thoughts and energy about the stories you don’t like and want to change.  Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” So go to a different level.  Go to a higher level with happier thoughts.

An easy example is when we break up with someone and we are devastated by it.  Our heart is broken, our lives are in pieces and we don’t know how to get out of the sadness and despair.  We slowly pick up the pieces and life does go on without them.  But how it goes on is up to us.  Do we stay in our sad story or do we practice gratitude for what we did learn from the relationship and trust that it’s over for a reason and move on with a story of trust and gratitude.  How we move on is especially important now in order to attract the next person into our lives.  If we are telling ourselves a sad story and vibrating low we are more likely to attract someone also vibrating low with their own sad story, for like attracts like.

Another example, a personal example, is when life blindsided me when my father died. I did the best I could to cope and go through the emotions of losing a loved one. Shock, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression and acceptance and hope.  Nine months after he died I was stuck on anger. I was angry. Every thought justified my anger.  I was so, so, so angry that it was affecting every aspect of my life and I was miserable. So how do you go from anger to hope? You tell yourself a different story. For me, when I finally admitted to myself I was angry, I picked up the Bible, being raised Christian, that's all I knew at the time and I said to myself, 'you better figure out who you are mad at'. It took about six weeks of reading the Bible and other spiritual writings daily before my anger turned soft and started slowly transforming into acceptance. Now, 7 years later, after studying the Bible, Bhagavad Gita, teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh while meditating daily I can say, my dad's death served as the spark I needed to find my beautiful, loving relationship with God. Before his death I thought maybe I believed in something but I wasn't even sure what that something was. My father gave me the best gift he could have ever given me, he lit my path towards enlightenment, but only by his death did this happen and that is the paradigm shift I needed to go from anger to hope. 

So that is my new story. The story of my father and I. It is no longer a story of anger and loss but of love renewed between God and I. A story of all the loving things my father did for me and when I miss him and start thinking about the loss I watch my feelings and then choose thoughts that make me happy.  I choose to think of my father and the memories I hold so dear in my heart that bring a smile to my face.  These thoughts fill me with love and gratitude. Whereas, if I stayed thinking of the loss I would probably still be stuck in anger and filled with bitterness.

In her book “On Death and Dying”, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross described the 7 steps one takes to emotionally cope with death. But these steps are really taken to cope with any loss or sad story we are trying to emotionally process. Again, the steps are shock, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression and finally  acceptance and hope. The steps are not written in stone. You may not go through them in order and you may be able to process in a way where you do not have to go through all the steps. You may also get stuck in a step. You may get stuck in a story. Know that your goal for happiness is to find a story of hope and acceptance. You have to hope to cope! To move through the steps think thoughts that give you hope. Have the discipline to hold onto these thoughts and the feelings that come about due to these thoughts. And with those thoughts and feelings you will build an energetic momentum to get you out of the unhappy step you are in and closer to hope and happiness.  This energetic momentum means it will be easier and easier for you to go to the higher vibrating thoughts.  You won’t have to consciously choose the higher vibrating thought but you will start thinking it automatically and soon have higher vibrating thoughts on different aspects of your life as well.  And it is in this way that you create your life and have the freedom to write a happy book of life.

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