Friday, August 30, 2013

Tell Yourself a Better Story

Every day, we tell stories from and about our life. Much of what we believe about our stories is based on perceptions. If we are honest with ourselves, we realize that our perceptions are not always based in fact; and we’d benefit from a shift.

How we relate to stories people tell us and we tell ourselves and others affects how emotionally involved we become. When we become emotionally involved, we tend to lose objectivity. Objectivity is where solutions and resolutions reside and is where the power of passionate detachment comes in handy. But what does that mean?

We associate “passionate” as being fully engaged with something or someone, and “detachment” as disengagement, perhaps even apathy. Not necessarily. Passionate detachment allows us to care deeply, yet release our attachment to emotional involvement that influences us in ways not always in our best interest or the best interest of others.

Life coach training teaches future coaches to practice passionate detachment, though it isn’t called that. This practice is vital if coaches are to assist clients to move forward and attain the outcome they desire. We listen to their stories, but only for so long, in order to gather information. We honor their emotions as genuine responses to their stories, as well as true for them; but if we buy into the stories, we falter in our ability to ask questions that help them explore options and make conscious decisions.

That is passionate detachment at work, and so is this: Coaches care deeply and are compassionate, but our role is to not accept that “nothing can be done” or “it’s too difficult” as is sometimes the complaint of clients—and our own complaint at times as individuals having our own personal challenges (and is why coaches have coaches). A coach’s role is to assist clients to go beyond challenges and to learn and grow from them. This approach is not limited to coaching. Any one of us can apply this to our own perceptions about our own experiences and about others’ experiences. But the fact is that it’s often easier to practice passionate detachment regarding others’ stories than with our own.

If your story is negative and you “feed” it or feed on it, if you allow it to be your reality in total, it's like nailing your shoe to the floor and turning in circles. You move around a great deal, but you go nowhere. Imagine that instead of saying, "I had a horrible childhood," you say, "My childhood was one of experiences that encouraged me to look within and clarify who I choose to be in life. Because of my experiences, I am who I am today and am proud of how I address challenges and grow from them. I may falter at times, but I’m a survivor, as well as someone who intends to thrive." The latter story can be just as true as the former. It's called Reframing. Or as American Actress, Shelley Winters, humorously said, "I'm not overweight; I'm just nine inches too short."

Why would anyone need or want to reframe their stories? Reality is what it is, isn't it? Is that always the case? We know that how we perceive things is how we then experience them. Sometimes, this means we ignore the obvious, perhaps make excuses. Other times, it means the story we tell ourselves causes us to feel bad rather than better, roiled rather than serene, or alone rather than supported by others—and always by Source.

During the course of a day, or a lifetime, we tell ourselves a lot of things. Maybe we say we can't be happy, confident, peaceful, or whatever we want to feel until we lose 20 pounds, have a certain bank balance, someone behaves a certain way, or we reach whatever destination we place out ahead of us. Will we attain our goals and dreams faster if we delay feeling the way we want to, until we accomplish what we aim to or others do what we want them to do?

Not according to Law of Attraction and many other ancient teachings. We waste time and energy, and delay results, waiting for circumstances and ourselves to be perfect or ideal so that we can feel good, instead of feeling that way, or at least a bit better, now. Yes, I know…this is not always as easy as it sounds here, for any of us, including me. But it works. We just have to find head-and-heart alignment about this. We have to take each incident and address it as it comes up. We may have to remind ourselves about this more than a few times.

A good time to reframe is when an outcome or experience is less than we expected or hoped for. Times such as these may be disappointing or frustrating but are not "failures." They are valuable information-gathering experiences. You can choose to make every outcome or process work for you rather than against you. This may not feel natural or simple, but if you do it, you'll move forward rather than stand still. That is the real power of reframing.

Reframing takes us out of the mono-vision we can get locked into. If we look around, we see lots of people enjoying themselves in ways we're putting off “until” or “when” or “if.” Do you know anyone who is not a millionaire but is happy? Do you know any men or women without “perfect” bodies or appearances who are in happy romantic relationships? Do you know people with health issues or physical disabilities who not only get around but enjoy a fulfilling life? One thing can be assumed about such people: they are reframing experts. They tell themselves different stories than what someone else with similar challenges may tell themselves.

Pick something you're putting off feeling better about until you reach a specific outcome. You can choose to feel good about you, just as you are, and good about life just as life is in this very moment. This doesn't mean you don't honor what you feel or don’t still aim at your target or desired outcome or experience; it means you give yourself permission to enjoy yourself and your life starting now, which can be facilitated with reframing your stories so you tell yourself something better or more meaningful.

If you can change your stories, you can change how you experience your life. You shouldn't deny that you have the emotions you do about your experiences, but you can use them to your benefit if you create a new story and find a way to relate to its truth, as in the examples above. Passionate detachment gets you there because it allows you to make conscious choices instead of emotional ones, and to decide to release whatever holds you back. It lifts the nail out of your shoe so you can move forward instead of stay stuck.

Is your story an Aesop, Grimm, Fairy, or Reframed tale? It's your choice. Reframing is not playing Pollyanna; it’s about not taking life solely on the terms of your ego-based perceptions but on the terms based in your spiritual awareness and personal power. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.

Practice makes progress.
© Joyce Shafer

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