Monday, July 19, 2010

The Art of Storytelling

I've been thinking a lot lately about the mantra that my old Science of Mind Practitioner would use when counseling...well, just about everybody. She would say nonchalantly but emphatically, "Not a word of truth in it, not a word of truth in it." Most of us would find that so hard to take. It was very disconcerting, especially if we were full into a story that was making us miserable. How could she be so heartless? Her tempering words, however, had a profound way of bringing us back to the truth, which remained, you are so much greater than the story you are now characterizing yourself by.

Not only do we tend to frame and characterize ourselves by these stories of our lives, we tend to keep ourselves stuck in a place that no longer serves our needs or desires by continually recounting them. It's time to let go of the stories that we keep telling - over and over again. Some are funny, poignant, disturbing, even salacious. Don't we love those! - We of the MTV, VH1, TMZ, reality generation. We love the titillating stories that spread virally faster than the newest disease on the block. The old newspaper mantra was, "If it bleeds, it leads." And it's never been more true in our exploitation of life that we've come to know as "Reality TV." In fact, nothing is further from reality than these shows that are edited to create the most surreal moments one can imagine. They are edited to foster division, jealousy, and hatred. They are as untrue as the disturbing stories we tell about our lives.

It's time to let go. I mean, really let go. We need to stop telling the stories that we think define our lives. Our words are so powerful, they create the container within which we create our lives. I think of Ernest Holmes insightful words when he said, "We create with monotonous regularity the patterns of our past." But we don't have to. Our past does not have to equal our future unless we let it. We must stop with the "yes, but..." argument and then launch into another story that gives evidence to this faulty thinking. We must let go, with a vengeance, in order to the live the lives we are dreaming of. In the words of the immensely talented and intuitive astrologer, Maria De Simone, "Get a grip, but first you'll need to let go!"

We are creatures of habit, there's no denying that. We tend to get into a rut or habit of thinking that we are not even aware of and yet it is guiding our lives. It's much like the tail wagging the dog. But the moment our awareness kicks in, when we shine a flashlight on our thinking, we will become blatantly aware of it. Marianne Williamson, used to say, and I'm paraphrasing here, that the moment we become conscious of a habit or a thought, we have changed it simply by virtue of our attention to it - it simply cannot be the same - ever. In other words our attention to something has already begun the process for healing or change.

Begin to notice the stories that you tell; stories about yourself and about others. You'll notice that we are attracted to re-telling disturbing incidents. Consider something that happens that really pisses you off - the jerk in traffic, your big mouth friend, a boss that will never understand what you do, or the roommate that drank the bottle of champagne that you were saving for a special occasion, only to throw it up on your new Flokati rug. You might tell and re-tell those stories for a week or more. If it has a good or funny twist to it, it might make the rotation of your top ten stories that you love to tell. Now consider how many times you will talk about the flowers that your husband gave you for your birthday - a week in advance! Just to commemorate the beginning of your birthday week! (Thank you, sweetheart. They are beautiful!) Why don't those stories have staying power? They are nice moments in our lives but more often then not, they fade into the background.

It's time to start mining the positive things that happen to us for all they're worth. Begin to collect stories of all the positive things that happen to you - remember what you focus on expands. Keep a journal of wonderful memories in your life - go back as far as you can remember. A surprise birthday party when you were 16 will not only be a treasured moment to look back on, but will also be the catalyst for future times of surprise and joy for you. Begin a gratitude list, of things that are happening right in your life. Appreciation is a powerful force for creation. Begin to move your thoughts in the direction of where you want your life to go.

I find comfort in heeding the words of a learned Buddhist and scholar, Daisaku Ikeda when he says, "There may be times when life seems gloomy and dull. When we feel stuck in some situation or other, when we are negative toward everything, when we feel lost and bewildered, not sure which way to turn - at such times we must transform our passive mind-set and determine, 'I will proceed along this path, I will pursue my mission today.' When we do so a genuine springtime arrives in our heart and flowers start to blossom."

Small changes will pay off in big ways. Don't think that you have to aim for perfection in order for things to change. Just put a wrench in your patterns and habits that keep you stuck. Baby steps have a way of accumulating and amassing momentum for change. Just change one thing this week. Catch a thought mid-stream and decide you are not going to let it disturb you any more. Realize how feeble it is on its own. Realize that on it's own merit, it falls apart. For example, a fear thought crossed my mind the other day about my career and I caught it. I ran it through my head again and knew that it was a lie. I replaced it with a strong affirmation that poured out of the center of my being. As quickly as that, I banished a thought that had taken up residency in my mind for years. Imagine my relief. Now that thought has no hold on me anymore. It is not directing my actions. I have changed it forever.  Immediately I saw the effect in my life, in subtle and not so subtle ways.

Here are a few more things you can do:

 - Check out The Work, Byron Katie's powerful method of questioning your thoughts.
 - Begin reciting the ABC's of powerfully charged words, advocated by the teaching of Abraham - A, appreciation; B, bliss; C, clarity and so on. Go all the way through the alphabet to Z and you'll see how this simple exercise will set you on a different course for your day.
- Check out Louise Hay's website where she offers a world of affirmations, books and CD's that will rock your world.

We are so much more powerful than the stories and thoughts we allow to define our lives. Simple exercises that interrupt our habitual mind chatter are powerful tools and they will change your life. You will begin to more easily let the things in that you want and it will begin an avalanche of change. You have begun to steer your life in the direction of your dreams.

This week, notice your words, notice your stories and make a conscious effort to let them go. In the wise words of Louise Hay, "What you think and what you believe will come true for you. Your thoughts create your life; it's that simple, and when we get that, we can make enormous changes."

I leave you with an inspiring video that my wonderful friend, Rachel forwarded to me. You will see how the man in this video has learned to defy his limitations and believe differently about them and his life. He personifies the words, "Not a word of truth in it."


  1. Thanks Zanmiester! Another positive post that inspires.

  2. Mahalo Zan, a reminder to us all that we are what we think.


  3. Loved it as always. You are wonderful. Happy Birthday in advance....


  4. Love your post & the video was just icing on the cake! Back in the SOM days, I was in the process of polishing my perfectionist self. It took years for me to realize how miserable I was keeping all those "plates spinning"!

    It wasn't until my sweet husband got ill & lost the ability to feel with his dominant hand that I realized what was really important! If he dropped something & made a mess or fell & broke something the old me would have been upset about the "stuff" but now I couldn't bear to add insult to injury! After all, he already felt badly & was embaressed, it would have been cruel to add to his burden.

    Thanks for the reminder!
    Love you Sweetheart!