Your story - adding perspective
Perspective is Everything
The stories we tell ourselves usually narrow the way we look at life and the
choices we give ourselves.
If my story is that life is tough and hard, and that people are horrible and out to
get me, and that I am no good anyway, then that’s my starting point when I enter
a room, go into a meeting, meet someone new. Doesn’t offer much hope, does it?
With health, other stories we tell ourselves are, “I always get a cold in December!”
“Our family never has much luck.” “Doctors just don’t care.” “I’ll never get better.”
“This cough will be the death of me.” We generalise, we seal our fate, we take
things as a truth without discernment.
In your life story, do you play the victor or the victim? Notice your language and body-language for clues!
There is an old parable I came across many years ago and have done so many times since; it tells of a group of blind men who were invited to touch an elephant for the very first time. They were asked to describe what they were feeling. Each one of them felt a different part of the elephant; one touched the leg, another the trunk, one the side, one the tusk, one the floppy ear, and one the tail.
The men then gathered to discuss their findings and surprise, surprise, they disagreed about what an elephant looked like. For one it was rigid and hard (a tree), another floppy and greasy (a fan); for one it was thin, like a rope, yet for another it was smooth and like a large pointed tooth or spear.
We as a species do this all the time; when we tell a story of our past experience, we tend to focus on a bit of it; the pain, the heartbreak, when we were wounded, and oh there may just be something joyous. Our default system is set to negative. So we tell tales that some of us have been rejected, discriminated against, marginalised, bullied. We talk of awfulness, of gossip, of negativity, of illnesses – oh we love a good wounding story, and then we love to talk of our experience with the NHS. Our woundology is like a currency we exchange.
And on we go.
But whether we have all that or just a bit of that, we call it baggage and we lumber it with us into each present moment. To feel safe, to defend ourselves from having to change, we cling to the stories we already feel comfortable with. What’s going on is that we end up subconsciously trying to make better sense of everything in the present by using old stories and past experiences. Sometimes this is okay and it’s great to share a good story but most times our old stories and past experiences are completely unrelated and irrelevant to the present moment, so they end up scratching old wounds, hurting us far more than they help, keeping our need for healing ever present.
Life would be healthier if we could just let go the baggage. Just imagine releasing that heavy load.
So here are three things you could do, depending on your preferences for dealing with your stuff.
1. Read Letting Go by David R Hawkins
2. Watch the Letting Go DVD published by Sedona Method
3. Do the “reviewing your thinking” or “reframing” exercise that follows, it’s designed to get you to shift your perspective on life events that are troubling you.
The aim of this is to broaden your perspectives and can be applied to any difficult life situation, or any circumstance in which a troubling thought or typical way of thinking is getting the better of you.
“The story I’m telling myself…” Change your thoughts – change your life.
Many of our conclusions about our challenges are often based on our biggest misunderstandings and could be avoided if we would simply take the time to think more widely and ask some questions, eg “What else could this mean?” “What am I meant to learn from this?” “What am I missing?” “How could I see this differently?”
Here’s what to do.
I have a friend who quite often will arrange to call or Skype and a time is fixed. He then doesn’t show. Doesn’t get in touch. An hour can go by – an hour in which, instead of getting on with life productively, my brain ruminates over all sorts of thoughts, which often fuel feelings. I think, “Just typical.” And instantaneously I feel indignant. I think “How discourteous” and straight away I am recalling times past when this happened and then I get into my judgements. And all this within nano-seconds.
Nowadays, in such situations I simply cry out, loudly if possible (unless there are others around) – STOP! And ask “What’s the story I’m telling myself here?”
I then answer – “My story is ….” Eg “This is just typical; he is so inconsiderate, doesn’t even let me know he is going to be late. I’m clearly not important enough.”
I then ask some fundamental questions:
Is that story true?
Can I be absolutely certain that it’s true? Where’s the evidence?
How am I making myself feel and behave when I tell myself this story?
Where else does this story lead me?
Most likely your answers, if you are being honest, go something like:-
No it’s not true
No I have no way of knowing if it is true. There is no evidence
I am winding myself up, I make myself angry, annoyed, now wasting my time procrastinating
This leads me to become more annoyed, fantasising all sorts of negative stuff that’s unreal
Time to switch the thinking, to be honest and become aware of “maybes” ie coming up with other
reasons he maybe didn't show for after all I have no idea why he didn't:-
“I don’t know why he hasn’t shown, maybe…”
“…there’s been a crisis in his office”
“…his wifi has gone down again”
“…he’s got caught up with a client”
“…his kids are ill”
Keep generating “maybes” until you run out of steam, you begin to realise the folly of your earlier thinking, you feel yourself becomes calmer, you may even move into laughing at your thinking.
So challenge yourself to use this tool… to think differently.
It’s amazing what happens and how better we can feel when we switch our attention from what we perceive is being done to us, and think about what may be happening for the other person.
Once we are calmer and clearer we can make wiser decisions.
In the previous example, I could have decided, whilst I was raging, to text or call and ask, “Where the hell are you?” By waiting till I had changed perspective, I may still chose to call, but my response will be more measured, calmer, enquiring of the other and less inflammatory and accusatory.
When it comes to our health, to have someone focus only on a symptom is to ignore the wider picture and perhaps miss vital clues asa to the origination of our illness. To focus on the symptom and treat that does not benefit us from a wider look at causes and what may need to be dealt with there.
I cite yet again the case of my younger sister. So often she went to her GP and complained of a persistent cough. So often she was told it was “just a cough” and to come back if it did not clear up. It never did and after almost a year of being told, “come back if it does not clear up!” she gave up asking. But as a family we asked her to have one more go, to be ultra-persistent and say, “The cough is not clearing. What else can this be?” By now, fears were flooding her mind but bravely she asked her GP one more time. Reluctantly her GP referred her for a scan and some tests. Within a month she was having chemotherapy and radiography. Within a year she was dead. All because a doctor refused to see the wider picture and the pattern in my sister's case.
You are the author of your life
This exercise is based on
The Work by