I’ve written several posts about the fact that human beings develop narratives about what they know, what they see, and what they are told. All of us do. We are natural storytellers, and meaning makers. It is how we make sense of the world. However, there is an issue here. Can you see it?
As we create stories about our reality, about what we believe to be true about the world, we can get stuck inside of faulty thinking. And, inside of this faulty thinking, we can begin to create realities, which are not really real. Yep, it’s true.
Right now, on the west coast of the United States we have a raging wildfire issue. At this same time, we are living in a pandemic, and have people all across the country in the streets, like they have been in Portland, OR, for months, protesting against systematic and institutional racism. The issue with the latter, of course, is not the protesting, it is the fact that systematic and institutional racism still exists.
Okay, what’s the issue with these issues, you ask? Hm. Let me explain it this way. Here you go.
Connecting Disparate Events and Situations
I’ve talked to several people this past week that are connecting these disparate events, creating stories about the compound effect of this year. However, these issues, while severe and highly problematic, are not connected. They are separate, and are just happening.
Because we are storytellers and meaning-makers we create something more out of what is happening than is really happening. We make these connections. That we do this is not a judgment or a demerit. It is how we are programmed.
However, it doesn’t help our mental health when we connect disparate events. Why? Because when we do, we can go into overwhelm more easily, and start blaming these situations on other people, and, yes, even ourselves. It happens all the time.
Think about a time when you failed a test, or didn’t get a job; and, in that same week or during that same timeframe, a friend or coworker upset you, and then a family member did something you didn’t expect, which also upset you. Well, did you pull these events apart, or did you rather, like most humans, connect them? Important distinction.
If you did connect them, you are not a problem. You are human.
Understanding that our brains work this way instantly creates a new awareness, which can be used to our advantage. How? By understanding that when events happen, they just happen.
We may not like them, or understand them, however, that is part of life. And, these events that just happen are not connected to each other. They are separate.
When we fully grasp this, we have more power over our reality and our life. How? Hm, okay. Here are 5 ways you can create more power over your reality by understanding that disparate events are just that, disparate.
5 Ways to Create More Power Over Your Reality
Notice when you are making connections between events that are disconnected – the first step is always to create more awareness about how our mind works. Knowing that all human beings are storytellers and meaning-makers instantly creates a new awareness. Now that this awareness is there, notice when you are making connections between disparate events. Just notice.
Pull those events apart, separate them – when you start to create stories about your reality, which include connecting events or pieces of information that are disconnected, you can pull them apart. Separate them, and leave them that way. More power.
Reorient yourself to the current reality – now that these events, situations, and or information have been separated, you can reorient yourself to the reality as it is, instead of the reality you’ve been creating. Be with that reality, connect with it, really see it as it is.
Notice the difference in how you feel – as you practice noticing your mind and how the mind connects disparate events and information, notice how you feel. How do you feel when you have the power to pull those events apart? Empowered, maybe? Excellent. If you don’t feel empowered right away, don’t worry, keep practicing.
Repeat – building healthy habits, as has been aforementioned, takes practice. Humans also like patterns, or habits, so continue to practice noticing. It takes time. Know though that the only way to become experienced in this practice, like anything, takes doing it again and again. There is no one way, and there is not right and wrong. There is just doing. Again, and again, and again. And, you will get better at it.
There we go. Now what?
Well, if you are so inclined to do so, practice. If not, that’s okay. What I can say is that there was a time when I suffered from terrible anxiety. Much of my anxiety had to do with the stories in my head, which were, of course, not really real.
They were created through habitual thinking. Through connecting disparate events about the world, myself in the world, and about information contained in my head.
You do have a choice. Today, right now. You can choose a different path. One with more power, and empowerment. It takes time. Yet, anything worthwhile always does.
Have you ever thought about why people are so attracted to stories. Movies, television, books, plays, insert here whatever you like that has to do with telling stories. Any ideas?
Don’t know about you, but I’ve always been fascinated with stories. Though I didn’t grow up reading much, I did grow up during a time when television was in a transformational phase. The advent of cable was just underway in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, and what a difference that was for how we consumed our stories. I mean, HBO and MTV? Wow.
As I’ve written in other posts, we are attracted to stories and create our own stories because this is how we make sense of the world. From a very young age we are told the story of who we are, and, in many cases, who we will be. As we grow up we learn from our environment, and weave our learning into the story of who we are, and who we believe we want to, or will, be.
The issue with this is that the person that we want to be, or that we believe we will be, is predicated on the stories told to us when we were very young. The information we drew upon was given to us. Yes, we added to it, however, we only did so, in a manner that fit a particular framework. We were doing exactly as we were taught to do. And, this is a limited framework.
The framework is limited, because if something in our environment does not align with the person we believe ourselves to be, we will ignore it. And, we will often do so unconsciously. We will simply not pay attention to it.
Think about the stories you tell yourself about who you are. Are they stories that you created, or, rather, are they stories that were handed to you. And, are these stories expanding the human being that you are, or are they keeping you living within a framework, or frame of reference, that someone else created?
I know for myself, understanding the stories that drive my behavior has been extremely liberating. Once you can see them, you can start to investigate why you believe the way you do. Until you can see them, and are conscious of them, you are simply living through these stories without really knowing any difference. Most of my adult life was lived this way.
Within the stories that we tell ourselves, there are some that fit the particular context that we grew up in; and, some that are generalizable. They are told to, and then by, many people, and have been told the same way for generations. Can you think of any?
Here are just a few for your consideration.
I am not good enough.
I can’t do that, it’s not reasonable.
There’s not enough time in the day.
I don’t care.
I’m not qualified, or talented enough.
I don’t have the time.
It’s not possible.
These might not seem like stories to you, yet add them onto a familiar situation, and you’ll see the story that’s been created for you, and reinforced by you. These stories are limitations on the human being within you, which is searching for liberation.
Here are two quotes about limits that I quite like.
“The only limits that exist are the ones in your own mind.” -Anonymous
“All limits are self-imposed.” -Icarus
However these stories may resonate with you, they are all reconfigurable to create limitlessness. Where do you want to go, what do you want to do? And, who do you want to be?
You are the writer of your story, and only you can change the frame in which you think and see yourself. You can rewrite any story that has been handed to you, and any story that you’ve added to, or created that creates limits. You can create a new story, one that has no limits, that sets you on a course for a new journey, and a new destination. How?
It takes looking at the stories that are holding you back, and limiting your potential, and the person that you are meant to be.
Here are a couple considerations on how to get started.
Write out all the stories that you have about yourself that cause you to limit your behavior.
Once you have those written out, question whether these stories are truly who you want to be.
If not, then rewrite that story. Write it from a place that does not limit the person you want to become. We are all always becoming. Start becoming the person you want to be.
Once rewritten, pick one that you want to take action on, and create an action or two you can take next week to start making this new story a reality.
Let me give you an example.
Limited Story – I can’t write a book, because I don’t know how, and I’ve never done such a thing before. Furthermore, I don’t have the time, too busy.
Question – Nope, not who I want to be.
Limitless Story – I can write a book, because I can learn how, and I’ve written things before. Though I am busy, I can make time.
Action – I will write two pages a week.
That is just one example, and a rather simple one. Yet, it does display a very simple method of taking something you believe about yourself, and rewriting the frame into one that is limitless and actionable. And, you can use this simple method with any limited story.
It takes looking at the stories that are limiting you, and making a conscious choice to do something about them. To rewrite them, and in doing so, to recreate yourself into the limitless human being that you already are.