Who is the Author of Your Story? (Episode 257)
Have you ever gotten stuck in the "I wish..." moments, where you're wishing for all that isn't, versus seeing what you can create! Who is truly the author of your story? We might think we're doing our own thing, yet we can easily get lost in reaction where our story is written by anyone but us!
What Story Is Worth Writing?
Author and speaker Donald Miller created a whole company around the idea of writing a story around your life. What does it mean to write your story - so that it's not like a drama-filled movie...yet not so boring we aren't really living? How do we create the beauty and joy in our lives?
There are ups and downs in all of our lives. There are times we will get trapped in survival mode, or it's simply where we are for the moment. We all go through seasons in our lives, and the goal is to truly look at what voices are you bringing into the room of the present moment.
Is your story more about what you should have done, or you wish you could, versus what fruit is worth harvesting for your future growth?
How Are You Dancing?
We are in a constant dance with the people who come in and out of our lives. Some will stay for just a short moment, while others may be a pivotal figure. And others may fade in and out and even take on different aspects of a relationship.
It's not just about showing up and sharing who you are, but seeing how you can truly "dance" with another. That requires teamwork and compromise to work toward the ultimate good of the relationship as opposed to laying out individual needs.
So as we seek to relate to others, we can't dictate their steps. Yet we can look at how we might take personal responsibility to match, lead, or follow to create a beautiful dance.
Trauma is Valid
We think, we feel, we choose. So we can get over anything and just move on, right? Sometimes it's not that easy. Sometimes our trauma is too big for us to navigate alone. Sometimes we need therapy and or support from others. Sometimes we need to learn to simply sit with ourselves and all that is within us.
I reference an incredible conversation with Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Lipton that I'm currently working through myself, called, "What Happened To You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing." In this piece, they dig into how important it is to shift the conversation to "what is wrong with you" to "what happened to you?" Something that happened, that is what you can move away and heal from. Something wrong with you...that becomes a part of your identity that continues to break you down way beyond the actual trauma that took place.
When trauma is the loudest thing in the room, it's really hard to focus on anything else.
How is trauma speaking inside your mind? Are you stuck in it? Are you using it as a driver in your life?
Are you willing to face all you were in your past - not to go back and relive it, but to be able to fully show up today? Are you willing to go through the work in the areas that bring you down, trap you in fear, anger, resentment, hurt? Are you ready to sort through what's worth letting go of, so it no longer is carried into your future? Is this a story worth carrying throughout your whole life?
I recognized, in my own life, that compartmentalizing or avoiding past pains doesn't make them go away. And, as my daughters are becoming beautiful young women, I've caught myself reliving my stories of pain, fear and rejection. That the last thing I want to do is project my own hurt on them, or project my experience and expectation into their reality.
As my daughters grew, the areas of my own life that weren't so fun to revisit would crop up as I would flash back through my daughter's eyes. The shift happened when I stopped brushing my own young feelings under a rug and gave space for me to process my own childhood. And as I learned to love the young girl I was - as I had compassion for her and understanding for what she went through, I was able to own what my part was, get clear on what no longer was serving me, and let it go.
Our past is our past. It is what it is and will always be a part of who we are. It has made us who we are today. When you look at life as seasons, the winters are just as important. When things go dormant and get covered over, it can also make room for new growth and healing. We are not our past. Yet we get to choose how it will make our present and future. So often those most painful moments are our best opportunities for growth and launching into a new season.
What do you do with your trauma? How loud is it speaking in your life? And how does it impact your present day?
It Starts With You
You may be sitting there thinking it doesn't matter because the others in your household are such a mess themselves, it's going to make no difference.
For our family, it can be like herding cats to get everyone in the car. And I remember being so irritated that nobody would actually get in the car. And everyone was waiting for someone else to first initiate. We can spiral into a very frustrating blame game where no one is taking action, and everyone feels they are waiting around on everyone else. Don't focus on that.
Take the initiative for YOU. If you know the work that needs to be done - healing work through trauma, or getting back in good health, or simply stepping your butt to the car first to lead the way - then do it! Move forward with what is helpful and healing for you. It's amazing how people will subconsciously mirror others - so if they are reflecting back from you, are you truly showing what you want another to mirror?
When I started working through my own self-healing, the whole family shifted. As I shifted from tension and lashing out and started loving and accepting what is, I saw a shift in the energy in our home, in the relationships our daughters had with each other, and Nathan and I have experienced a whole new level of love and dating again in our relationship.
My personal story is a testament to how it can be just ONE person willing to show up and really work on themselves that can make an impact on an entire household. There is a ripple effect that happens when you invite peace, flow and joy in your home, even if it's one person at a time.
You may not be at all responsible for what happened to you in the past. However, you are responsible for the person you choose to be in the present and future.
Embrace the Present
If you want to plan for a future that is beautiful, look at where you are now, and what you can slowly add to it. The past is the past only if you let it be. So look hard at what you're perpetuating and carrying into the future. When is the story of your past not going to define your future? Get real with the present moment and what you want to create.
And, it isn't for you to create alone. That is key. We can't get so forward focused we've dictated our whole future. We are relational beings that will dance together, each with our own unpredictable and ever-changing dance moves.
What are you creating right now in the present that is shifting the script of your past? In the book The Power of Now, it talks about how loud our internal mind is - how noisy it can get in our own heads.
The concept of the present moment is that you're not operating from a place of clarity if you're only seeing/experiencing from the past - or from the future. Are you able to simply see what is - right in this moment - with no story written about it? No story about how others will respond, what the next variable will be...just simply being in the moment for what it is?
It is known that if you put a bunch of black crabs in a bucket, they will all stay there, because as soon as one tries to get out, instead of helping each other, they will pull each other back down to the bottom of the bucket.
If your head space remains either in the past or future, and, especially if the thoughts lean toward the negativity and pain you may fear or have experienced, they can act like like "black crabs" in your present moment, simply pulling you into - and ultimately manifesting more - pain and negativity in your life.
Every day you get to wake up to someone who is brand new, based on what they have learned and grown from the day before. Waking up to a blank slate of what you want to create moving forward can be a refreshing thing. Don't continue to write a story of how you or others in your household will be. Give everyone a blank slate to start fresh, starting now. And keep creating that fresh slate any time you're looking to move out of whatever habits or emotions you get stuck in that may not be serving you anymore.
The Easy Button
This may be all well and good, but you're running on fumes and have been, and you're not seeing an end in site. This is survival mode, and, unfortunately, when you're in survival mode, there isn't much you really are going to be able to do other than focus on basic survival. Let me be clear: that means this is not a time you can feasibly have deep philosophical discussions, redecorate your house, or even get pregnant. When you are in survival mode, scientifically, your brain literally stops the brain and body functioning that aren't necessary to your basic survival. You simply aren't able to think beyond "don't get killed/rejected". If you're at a point of hopelessness, your first step is simply getting out of survival mode.
The big fat easy buttons for getting out of survival mode, at least for me, goes to two things. Number one, engage the senses. Pay attention to all six senses - what you taste, see, hear, feel, smell and sense. What can soothe you? Second, gratitude. Engage those senses until you can zone in what you're grateful for right now in the moment.
It can seem counter-intuitive when we're running on fumes of overwhelmed exhaustion to stop and take a minute to fix a cup of tea. However, stopping the frenzy of your stress, intentionally creating a cup of tea, and sitting down - being still, holding the warm mug in your hands, smelling and tasting the tea - and then truly appreciating it all...all of these are functions of luxury and joy tells your brain you are safe. Experiencing stillness and joy are hard to do when our brain is stuck in fight, fight, fear or fawn mode for our basic survival. So shifting in this way - of adding this little pause to reset - can jar us out of our frenzy and help us shift back to what we want to create vs. reacting to what is.
If we don't like who we were or how things happened in the past, why keep using them as a barometer for the future?
Sometimes we can get trapped in our stories of the past because we so readily write them as future predictions based on what we've already experienced. Sometimes, we're so scared to live our past that we fast-forward to only focusing on the future, sabotaging our present moment as we keep barreling forward.
Are your actions in the present moment paving the path for you to be walking into the future you're speaking of? Are you speaking about how family is your ultimate focus as you're pulling another 12 hour day of work?
I see entrepreneurs struggle with this all the time - with no limits on what they may be able to do or create, they get so focused on the next big thing they lose sight of what is happening in the present. They become an entrepreneur so they have the freedom to play with their family and set their own schedule. And then they get so lost in the hustle of creation, they're working at all hours of the day with no boundaries around when family time happens. They may end up working twice as much as they did in a 9-5 job, and the family has learned to work around that entrepreneur vs. expect them to actually be present with the family.
Are you so busy creating what will happen next that you don't realize what you might be sabotaging now? Relationships don't remain on pause until you get your act together. Your relationship with yourself - your mental/physical/emotional health and well being - are you prioritizing it on a daily basis? Your relationship with your loved ones - can they recognize their worth to you by your actions? Are you simply saying "I do this all for family" while your actions are diving into yet another project that takes you away from them?
Check yourself. We don't want to just be blind to our future. Think of it more like a hike. Yes, you may have a goal to hike to the top of a mountain top. Yet, you don't only think of the mountaintop. People hike to soak in the views along the way as well. It's the whole journey to get there that is a much bigger part of the story than the actual few moments at the top of the mountain. And, when you're up there, you're not just lamenting what happened at the trailhead - you're focused on that moment of glory you've accomplished.
Life isn't about looking to the past only, or the future only. It's recognizing the biggest impact and longest time isn't on these pivotal moments of past or future, but in the ongoing journey of one's daily actions - what you are doing in the present that either affirms or tears down what you're creating.
Ebb and Flow
Sometimes people will only be in our lives for a finite amount of time. Sometimes we will grow at different paces, and it requires some space and grace while we sort things out, moving from closeness to growth and then back together again. Some relationships shift through this and morph into new relationships with the same people, sometimes they are a season that comes to a close. Sometimes it's your best step to finally stop a relationship that perpetuated something of your past that you're unwilling to keep creating a legacy on.
Sometimes we will allow ourselves to be swept away in a conversation - to a past experience or a future desire, and you can go along that ride with someone so far you lose track of where you are now.
Going back to that hike - when we plan a hike to get to the top of the mountain, we can't always anticipate the view or even the weather. And we could spend that whole hike talking about what we may or may not see at the top, or what the trailhead looked like at the beginning, and we have a pretty frustrating and boring hike.
Instead, we focus on the next step ahead that keeps moving us toward that loftier goal - knowing that may change depending on what other variables will lie ahead. There may be a detour from a fallen tree, or a break due to a rainstorm. We don't have it all mapped out, and sitting and speculating or ruminating won't make it any clearer; it simply muddies our focus for the next step forward.
In your relationships, look for those people who actually hike with you - who notice the cool plant or spot the rare bird on the hike. Look for those who delight in the joy of discovery along the way, and aren't stuck at the end points. Remember you have the power to course correct with a little shift toward you, personally, noticing the present and the gratitude. Remember what you can be a mirror for yourself.
Where is your "true North" headed? Or has it been so clouded by the past or the future that you're simply walking in circles? Sometimes we need to rewire our brains to what we're truly tuning into. There is a lot of "noise" around us - and we can choose what we focus on.
Look at your past story. You get to write how you want to voice this moving forward. It is your story. Think of what future you want to create. Is it of growth, acceptance, love, connection, joy and gratitude?
How can you bring those words into today? Into this present moment? How can you glean anything from your past that starts to affirm those words?
How can you make this a common theme - these words of growth, acceptance, love, connection, joy and gratitude - and incorporate affirming memories and intentions around them for your past, present and future?
Look at what you want to create for yourself, and for those beautiful souls you choose to celebrate your life with. Show up for one another. Show up for yourself. Be willing to own all of who you are, knowing you get to determine what shows up today and tomorrow. Remember that all of those who do show up for you in your life are already choosing to love the person you are - even those messy parts you may still have issue with. So look for what you want to create together and celebrate how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.