Almost exactly one year to the day later I’ve revisited the topic of changing your life through myth and story. That entry can be read here, and provides a more accurate clarification on why we need to rewrite our personal stories, because in light of what is in the new entry (particularly the update near the end), the quotes and introduction to this entry are almost ironic; although, the entirety of this entry is not rendered irrelevant.
There is so much going on in my life right now.
I’m trying to be more human than my mistakes, but the older I get the more I realize that it’s my mistakes that make me human.
I am not a perfect person. As I write this, I’m nearing the end of my twenties; however, I feel like Al Pacino’s character in Friday Night Lights in this clip till the 1:40 mark:
I mean — I made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I, uh, I pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who’s ever loved me. And lately, I can’t even stand the face I see in the mirror.
However, I understand that a degree of introspection and self-examination is a necessary requirement to maintain one’s self-awareness – regardless of the temporary impact to my self-esteem.
I also know that from errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future.
Look, we’ve all been through shit. We are all fighting our own battles. No one has it great forever because life is characterized by change – and some of that change can be truly fucking shitty.
One of my favorite quotes, from the Counte of Monte Cristo says it perfectly:
Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next.
We’ve all been shattered on the rocks.
Life ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.
But all too often we lose sight of how the storms of life fit into our own personal odyssey.
Instead of seeing past adversity, we dim our hopes and scale down our dreams.
We let the storms change our views on life, until one day, we discover that we are a product of an environment that we don’t really enjoy, and life sucks, and we don’t particularly care for the person we are in that moment.
But I’m here to tell you something.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
You have the power to change your life. Anything about it.
Your Life is a story. You are both the main character and the narrator. Unfortunately most of us have really shitty narrators, and we’re telling ourselves a story that not only makes us feel small and insignificant, but leads us to lead a life that is far less than what we are capable of living.
Unfortunately none of us are aware of this narration. It’s bigger than our inner voice. It goes far beyond both our inner and our outer sense of reality.
The above quote may sound like a really wise piece of common sense, but it’s a truth that you don’t even realize – even if you feel like it makes perfect sense to you.
We simply aren’t aware of the bullshit stories we are telling ourselves.
It’s not the obvious self-helppy ‘Oh, I can’t do that because I’m not good at math’ kind of shit.
No, the real barriers can’t be seen from the inside, and that’s what keeps us trapped in them.
I overheard an extremely eye opening quote recently to the effect of: Most people don’t even realize why they do the things they do.
And that’s the problem.
We aren’t aware of the most powerful guiding forces in our lives.
They’ve dictated our thoughts and our actions and we’re completely oblivious to them them because they’ve been developed as a coping mechanism to help us interpret the world.
As a result they are rooted extremely deep inside our minds. Beginning in our early childhood, we started developing the stories that instinctively helped us to survive and navigate our relationships with our families, ourselves, and the world as a whole.
This is human nature. We evolved because of storytelling. The ability to understand and tell stories is one of the fundamental foundations of sentient consciousness. Stories help us stay sane. They help us maintain our identity, they both shape and reinforce our beliefs, and most importantly they help us integrate our feelings and our experiences into a cohesive narrative.
But there’s a fly in the ointment.
The story isn’t always that ‘mommy loves me’ or ‘I had a fair chance at going to the school I wanted to’ or ‘there was always enough’.
What happens when we grow up in an imperfect world? Where an imperfect and dysfunctional society imprints the stories we’ve led ourselves to believe?
The behaviors that arise from them keep us trapped.
As a result we are stuck inside thought patterns and behavioral cycles that are completely hindering our ability to live balanced, purposeful, and happy lives.
I’m not saying the answer is to be a Pollyanna or to pretend that mistakes and injustices never happened to you, but you can edit the story from those events to change the filter through which you see the world and free yourself where you have been stuck as a result of self-defeating behavior and limiting, disempowering beliefs.
This is serious. It’s time you regain the power to narrate your story.
Changing your beliefs and resultant behaviors and habits is nothing new. Everything from The Law of Attraction, to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been successful at doing this.
I believe that the end result is the same, but I’m giving you the power to do this.
You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control the way you think about and react to external events.
This is the power to change your life.
Somewhere inside of you, you have a sense of your own destiny. It’s time to reclaim it right fucking now.
Life is meant to be an epic journey. Not a silent whimper.
You are made from the DNA of Spartans and cavemen.
From this moment on you need to start looking at life objectively from a high-level point of view because you are now the narrator of your life story and the stories driving your life.
Right now, I want you to do something.
I want you to imagine there is a shadow on a podium in your mind and it’s this subconscious narrator that’s been constructing the stories for your entire life. Some good some bad.
Now, I want you to fire this narrator. In your mind, close your eyes and say You are fired. I’m sorry, but I need to start narrating my story and I need to clean up the baggage from the older stories that no longer serve me – enough is enough! See yaaa! and flip him or her off or whatever you want to do or say.
Now ask yourself, what is your story going to be from here on out? It can be what you want it to be. Truly. Remember, the only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.
And just as important, why are you doing what you are doing?
There is going to be a lot of why’s tied up in your stories, and it’s your new job to start taking inventory of your stories and redirecting your interpretations of them in healthier and more powerful directions.
But you also need a big why.
Because if you don’t have a big ‘why’ and are connected to it and it pushes you forward you’re going to use the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ as an excuse to not do that thing that you said that you were going to do.
Now, here is your homework, and I’m going to do it too.
1. Start working on your why everyday. Write. Daydream. Set goals. Imagine. Put a piece of paper in your pocket with your why on it, carry it with you.
2. Start objectively examining all of your feelings from the point of view as your new role as Chief Narrator of your life. Never give up this role. This is true self-awareness.
3. Order this book: How to Stay Sane
4. Order this book: The Mythic Path
5. Remember, everything is story.
6. Listen to this song on repeat:
Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.
P.S. I am so excited about this you have no idea! It’s storytime kids.
P.P.S. Download the above as your wallpaper here.
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– if you liked this, please share it on facebook or via email. It’s one of the most important things I’ve written in awhile and I think it has the power to truly change anyone’s life.
Edit 04/04/14: If you enjoyed this, and want to work more on reinterpreting your stories, check out my entry Meditations: Session One.