In today’s blog, I would like to expand upon some of the concepts that I introduced in my January blog, entitled Confessions of a Thinkaholic.
I believe that so many of us seek out external pleasures in our attempts to alleviate our suffering and/or fill an internal void. I, too, believe that joy, peace, and contentment are internal feelings that cannot be sustained through external means.Joyous moments, though fleeting, can be pleasurable. True, lasting joy, however, cannot be found until you understand the following essential pearl of wisdom: we do not suffer because of the circumstances of our lives—we suffer because of the stressful thoughts and the negative overthinking around the circumstances of our lives.
These negative thoughts, in turn, become our self-created and harmful stories that we attach to our circumstances in order to make sense of them—thus we become victims of our own stories.
Now, what exactly do I mean by a story? A story is the creation of a reality. You see, facts are meaningless until we create a story around them. We are human beings bestowed with the gift of storytelling, so we naturally use our subjective and personal opinion to make sense of what has happened in our world.
In essence, we analyze the facts and circumstances and interpret them often without any conscious awareness—using our subconscious filters to fit those facts into our pre-existing stories and storylines. And if they don’t fit, well, we simply create new ones.
We are, in fact, so good at this that oftentimes we cannot even differentiate between fact and fiction. When I ask my clients to separate the two, they all tend to struggle.
Why? Because they have found evidence to support all of their stories, and their component parts, even those that are blatantly false, thus making it almost impossible for them to see the clear separation between reality and story.
Here are some real life examples to illuminate my point. Most people believe that they suffer because of the terrible circumstances occurring in their lives. Be it an ugly divorce, the loss of a job, an unfortunate diagnosis, a terrible accident, or whatever the event, people are quite certain that it is their circumstance, alone, which is the cause of their suffering.
You may find it somewhat off-putting that I am suggesting otherwise, but I strongly believe that it is essential to confront the truths of life in order to live consciously, deliberately, and on-purpose.
Now here’s how the evidence part works. For example, if you buy into the blame story around your ugly divorce—where you have become the victim and your ex, the villain, then you find evidence to support that every day. Your lawyers will prove that to be true, your ex’s lawyers will prove that to be true, and friends and family will even prove that to be true because that’s all you can see—that’s the only story you know.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I wholeheartedly agree and I further believe that in order to examine our lives, we have to consciously choose to examine our minds, for it is the mind that creates the ultimate joy, the ultimate suffering, and all that lies in between.
In my coaching practice I subscribe to the following model, which has been developed by many but most specifically defined by master coach Brooke Castillo. A circumstance creates a thought, which creates a feeling, which leads to an action, and ultimately to a result. It really is as simple as that.
I know that most of us understand this process on an intellectual level, but that is not the same as being consciously aware of your own thinking and how it impacts your entire world.
Being consciously aware also means taking ownership of your thoughts and feelings and being accountable for your actions and thus for the results that you are currently creating in your life.
It’s always easier to blame someone or something else. Perhaps it’s just simpler to live unconsciously and therefore unaware of the negative consequences of your thinking.
But if you choose to take the path of awareness, if you choose to understand the power of your mind—the power of your stories in creating your reality—you will then be able to self-heal and to self-empower in order to uncover your true and lasting joy.
Once you understand that your thinking is optional, then you can choose to think a very different thought, feel a very different feeling, act in a whole new way, and find results in your world that you never before deemed possible.
Sounds like an amazing paradigm shift—like a transformative moment. Marianne Williamson defines a miracle as a shift in perception. I, too, believe that it is representative of an everyday miracle, in every sense of the word.
And not only have I experienced these miracles first hand in my own world, but I have also experienced them vicariously through my clients. And nothing gives me a greater sense of personal satisfaction than watching my clients grow and blossom into brighter versions of themselves using my self-empowering “storyline” curriculum.
Marcel Proust wrote: the real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
I challenge you to try this. Seek out a new angle. Get curious around a new perspective, a new interpretation—a new story. Experiment with getting conscious around your thinking.
Why, you ask? Because oftentimes there is relief in awareness. Don’t underestimate the power of increasing consciousness and thus awareness in your life. I encourage you to try something new as you step into spring; disrupt your autopilot setting in search of daily miracles.
I invite you to join me in my most recent workshop, “Thinkaholism: Are you Addicted to your Stories?” where, together, we will delve deeper into this most fascinating and “mind-opening” topic.