Changing the Storyline of Your Life for Better Living

Change the storyline of your life to live a better story.

I heard this idea in my meditation practice. We go through life telling ourselves stories about who we are, what we do, and how we live. I imagine they call it a story because even though there is a reality and therefore a truth to it, there’s no way we can know the whole truth of ourselves, others, or any situation. There are always going to be factors that remain unknown.

So, then, we create a story. I am a victim. I am powerful. I am no good. I am destined for failure. No one likes me. Everyone likes me. The story can be good or bad, but mostly, we’re talking about the bad stories of our lives. Those are the ones we want to change.

For me, I had one story about myself for most of my life; I lived thinking I was in control, cool, intelligent, put together, sensible, and fun. Back when I first started having stress-related health issues, they didn’t fit my story. (I also tested as an INTJ back then, and false or otherwise, it definitely colored my perception of myself.) I didn’t let anyone know I was having stress issues or that I was depressed because I didn’t see myself as a person that happened to. The story went that depressed people weren’t trying hard enough, didn’t read books showing them how to have a better mindset, and wanted attention.

I was lucky to get better at all with all that crap in my head. Well, better-ish, since the whole thing happened again a few months ago. This time (over several years) my story had changed. I had slowly come around to accepting myself as an INFJ, an HSP, a multipotentialite, and more creative and dreamy than hardass and intellectual. I was sensitive, and now my sensitivity had taken a blow. But I still thought it was on me. I still thought I hadn’t done something right or I hadn’t taken good enough care of myself. That’s probably true, but it put me in the mindset of victimization. All these external factors had contributed to my fall. It was the school’s fault, it was my friend’s fault, it was my doctor’s fault, it was God’s fault, it was my fault, etc.

Who cares? It doesn’t matter how it happened. It happened, so what am I going to do about it? Thinking about where the blame falls is not only toxic in that it’s automatically negative, but it also keeps the focus on the problem, instead of on the possible solutions.

One foot in front of the other. I can’t see three feet ahead, just the next step, so move there. And then there. And then there. Forward, forward…

The above is a kind of mantra I go through when I’m terrified of what’s next. I don’t know where to go. I knew in college, I had a general idea in Korea, but now…there is nothing ahead of me. It’s a fog, and I can only put one foot ahead. Go to the doctor. See a psychiatrist. Eat better. Exercise to keep me healthy. Get my mind healthy. Find positive friends who support and challenge me. Find a healthy church group. Find a writing group.

The story is changing around me, but I’m not a useless bystander. I can direct it.

Instead of I am a sick person –> I am a recovering person.

Instead of I am not in control of my life –> I can make decisions that influence my life.

Instead of I must be successful/financially stable –> I can determine what is enough for my life.

Instead of I have to be a published author to be worthy –> I am enough.

Instead of I am a burden when I’m sick –> I am worthy of being helped.

Instead of I am someone with a depressing past/history of abuse –> I am able to be better/I can share my story to help others.

You can see how valuable this is. It’s not just positive thinking. It’s changing how you view your entire self in terms of your life. Really, this is best for getting over a mindset of helplessness. Too many people who are victims of abuse, depression, chronic illness, or other really and truly debilitating problems let themselves lose control over their lives and continue to live out the story of their problem. I’m one of them, so I would know.

But I also know that it’s not the only truth. As many people I know who are this way, there are so many stories of people who have overcome awful situations with hope and determination and totally changed their own storylines.

Some of the most well-known examples; Viktor Frankl, Martina Stawski, Nick Vujicic, and Joni Tada.

Change the story of you in your head, and you can change your life.*

Signature

 

*I want to be clear – if you do have depression, anxiety, or have suffered trauma or abuse, positive thinking and this sort of advice will only do so much. I always encourage you to see a doctor or psychiatrist first. They are trained professionals. The sort of advice I give on this blog is more general. 🙂

 

Meditation: Finding the Serene Blue Sky

se·rene

səˈrēn/
adjective
  1. calm, peaceful, and untroubled; tranquil.
    “her eyes were closed and she looked very serene”
  2. (in a title) used as a term of respect for members of some European royal families.
    “His Serene Highness”

noun

archaic
  1. an expanse of clear sky or calm sea.
    “not a cloud obscured the deep serene”

One of my Core Desired Feelings this Season is Serene. I want to feel that tranquility, that clear blue sky in my mind and soul with no clouds to obscure the clarity.

Meditation finds that blue sky. Or rather, helps remind me that it’s there. When the day is overcast, or storming, or snowing, or full of birds, it’s hard to remember it’s even there.

Think about the actual sky. You don’t think about it most times. You notice when there’s interesting weather, or you intentionally stop and look, but you don’t live in a state of neck-breaking upturned focus. Nor should you. But it’s always good to remember there’s the blue sky above the storms.

That’s what meditation is like. When I sit in my chair and close my eyes, my mind is a turbid storm, most days. But in breathing, in silence, in just focusing on sensation and letting thoughts come and go, I find that blue sky. I remember it, and it’s there.

One step closer to serenity.

Meditation, for me, is very straightforward. I find I can’t control my thoughts most of the time. They come, I follow, usually to worry. They go, I forget why I entered rooms. When I’m watching TV, it’s like they aren’t there at all. When I’m in the flow of a project, it’s like the blue sky is all around me. So meditation helps me control them. It’s an exercise of the mind. Even willpower, in a way. Focusing on thoughts to change them, to recognize them, to find patterns, is hard at first. It was nearly impossible for me. But with practice, I got much better.

I don’t light candles or sit on a special cushion or listen to music or hold my hands up or do anything like that. I could. But I don’t need to.

I use an app, Headspace, the best meditation app I’ve seen. It’s highly recommended (by Emma Watson – and it has my vote too). It’s very simple, very easy to understand, and very easy to use. They have basic packs to teach how to do it, because sitting in silence is not something we’re used to. They also have special packs for certain situations. I’m currently on the anxiety pack, and it’s been very helpful. But even if I just did the basics pack over and over again, it would be helpful.

Meditation sounds a lot like acupuncture to most people. Weird. New age. Slightly foreign. Not to be trusted. Useless. For hippies.

It’s become slightly more mainstream, to the point where my mother would try it (always the litmus test), but people still hesitate. Admitting it feels weird. I meditate. It hasn’t quite hit the okay-ness of yoga, but I think it’s creeping ahead of acupuncture.

Either way, this isn’t a paid promo for the app or anything. I just happen to really, really like it. I’d tried a few free Youtube meditations and they were okay, but the music was actually more distracting than I’d thought. And with Headspace, you get a lot of explanations for the various techniques. It’s also where I was introduced to the idea of the blue sky kind of mind.

Meditation has helped me. One of my habits this year is to meditate every day. In good weather or bad, learning to control my thoughts is important.

Do you meditate?

Signature

Definition from Dictionary.com