The Story of You
Everything that you have ever experienced in your life has impacted your thoughts, memories, beliefs, and opinions about who you are.
Most people think that if you have had pleasant experiences, then you will automatically have an easier, more privileged, and generally happier life. That if you have been met with life challenges or adversity you will be more likely to live in a state of despair, anxiety, or experience a lack of happiness. But this view fails to account for the opportunity for personal growth which comes hand in hand with life challenges. Positive change comes more easily through adversity than it does through a life of privilege and ease. There is more room for growth, a greater ability to appreciate the thing that you feel is lacking, whether it be love, support, wealth, or any other aspect of life.
In our society, we often get caught up in the past. We relive past hurts over and over again. We bring up all the things that did not go according to how we think they should have been. We talk for hours about how we were aggrieved, how things didn't go our way, why we have good reason to be upset. We forget the one hundred good things, and focus only on the bad. Reliving our pain, and reinforcing the fact that it is part of who we are.
The past is not happening now, and the future has not arrived. By failing to experience what is happening in this moment, we take the joy out of the simple things in life. We do not notice the birds singing, the flowers at the side of the road, or the smile that someone gives you as they walk past. Our mind is constantly elsewhere, caught up in our own story of our life - worrying, replaying events, and caught up in anxiety about a possible future, which may never happen. If we want it to change, it can be different.
How to Change Your Story
What if you stopped clinging onto the old beliefs about who you are? Not as an act of repression, but in making a deliberate choice in who you want to be.
Step one is to let go of the past. Yes, I have heard some people say that this is easier said than done. The answer lies in understanding the nature of the mind. Often people get disillusioned because they expect their mind to become suddenly free of thoughts, but it doesn't work that way. Usually, when a thought arises, we believe it, and see it as a real thing which we should take seriously. But thoughts are simply repetitive patterns which arise. If you let them go, they will leave again.
Step two is to simply notice why you are not able to let thoughts go. It's usually because they hold some importance for you and they are part of your life story in some way. Be completely honest, and ask yourself what the payoff is for you. Do you get some sense of self from the thought? Does it make you feel secure? Familiar? Is it true? Does it bring up strong emotions? Does it stimulate fear and anxiety in you? Are you trying to repress an issue in some way?
Step three is to allow the emotion attached to a thought to fall away. The more we try and repress our thoughts and emotions, the more they will arise. Emotions contain a physical sensation which has a chemical counterpart, together with a thought or belief. In order to fully release the emotion we need to allow the chemical sensation in the body to fully dissipate, otherwise the body will bring it up again at a later date, so that it can be released.
Step four is to begin changing your story to the new you. Take practical steps to integrate your new self into your everyday life, so that it becomes a habit. Learn new life skills, make new friends, leave old patterns of behaviour behind, and introduce new ones. It is not an overnight thing, but a constant process which will leave you feeling happier, more in control of your destiny, and more aligned with who you choose to be.