Being a psychotherapist gives me privileged insight into the world of others. We all have stories and generally speaking, no one has made it through life without heartbreak, loss, or betrayal of some kind. No one has ever gotten exactly what they want all the time. That is a part of human existence, but it certainly doesn’t need to be the focus of our lives.
When it comes to our stories, we forget that our own internal dialogue and thought processes are some of our most important tools. This isn’t deluding ourselves into thinking that something is ok when it is not, or denying the parts of our lives that may have significantly contributed to who we are today. This isn’t skating over our emotions, or sweeping them under the rug. Instead, it is advocating for self-awareness and increasing awareness of emotions, patterns, and importantly, an awareness of the stories we tell ourselves each day.
The capacity to view ourselves, our patterns, and the themes that emerge in our lives is paramount to conscious living. However, our power is in the present.
In the sometimes-uncomfortable process of self-examination, we have the capacity to identify our blind spots. Specifically, this can relate to past attachments, people, or behaviours that are contributing to our story and/or our inner dialogue.
There are a large percentage of people in this world living on autopilot, and we can have the tendency to repeat the same story or behaviours on a loop. This can be an automatic process, yet the result is the same as choosing it consciously each day; remaining attached to previous stories or misfortunes. There can be stories or memories that no longer serve us, or themes about ourselves or our lives. In certain cases, our power is managing what is within our bounds, in the how we go about things. In other cases, it becomes a matter of noticing that something needs to change when whatever we’ve been doing hasn’t been working so far, makes us feel like s***, or has been prompting the same unfavorable results.
On one hand, cultivating a conscious existence can be a matter of perspective and training our brains to pivot from the negative into the positive. Catch a thought and turn it around; glass half empty becomes glass half full. Doing this consistently enough and living this truth can rewire our brains at a neurocognitive level. It isn’t necessarily seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses. It’s giving the power to the good and feeding that thought and that experience. Recognising that this can be a choice is powerful, because it paves the way to a whole new way of being.
Quite often however, we haven’t trained ourselves to deeply listen to what we really think, feel, want, or need. Sometimes pivoting our thoughts isn’t enough because it doesn’t address the root of the issue, which involves cultivating the awareness we need first before we can shift anything long-term that isn’t working. This begs the question; what now?
At this point, we have to examine internal dialogue, internal patterns and past experiences that may contribute to our present existence and go deep, examining our feelings, thoughts, our cognitions. We have to go deep, which can be a gradual and uncomfortable process. Once we do this, we can accept the lessons, learn what we wish to carry, identify what might need to shift and potentially discard or drop the stories that no longer serve us. We don’t have to play on a loop unhappy thoughts of feelings once we’re conscious that we’re having them in the first place.
There is a quote I like that illustrates my point more poetically, “That mountain that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.”
It is easy to remain a slave to our past, of patterns that do not serve us, or relationships that do not nourish our needs and our souls. After all, these are the stories and people that have been occupying time and space in our minds, as once removed there is a blank space that we might want to fill with something or someone else. This doesn’t have to be a void, but a jumping off point for consciously creating a life that better aligns with what we need or choose to the experience in the present.
What we need to recognise is that we own our lives, and the only thing we own is what we experience now. We forget that every day we wake up and have the capacity to shift, however incrementally, what we have been doing or how we have been doing it. This is a matter of taking back our personal power by recognizing that a lot of the time we have the capacity to decide upon and create our experience if at first we are aware of what is actually is, and what we are actually feeling. This may also be refusing to be a victim of what no longer serves us; examples of this include making conscious effort to shift self-deprecating thoughts or walking away from the dynamics of unhealthy friendships.
The message here isn’t that you necessarily have to make life-altering changes in order to be happy, but rather that we all need to come to a place where we are aware of, own, and consciously cultivate the life we are living. The power here is recognizing where acceptance is necessary, and where we have the desire and/or capacity to change. Each day you have a choice as to how you are living your life; it’s a blessing for growth towards the best possible life, as long as you have the awareness and desire to take charge of it.
Our lives are like a canvas, and whilst there are some colours that appear by circumstance, it’s up to us to mix them with our own palette to forge our own story, and do our best to make it a great one.