Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ending The Cycle - Start Today (Narrative Therapy)

I'll bet everyone who reads this post will be able to name at least one thing in his/her life that is in need of change - that we want to stop perpetuating. Do it Now. Do it Today.

Contrary to the popular opinion in the world of neuroscience, I believe we have free will - but it requires that we become conscious of our decisions, that we become active participants in our lives rather than passive passengers. Free will is earned, not given.

What is the story - the narrative - that you tell yourself about your life, about who you are, about how you got to this moment? Is is true? Are you the hero or the victim? How do you want the story to end?

We write the stories we live by telling them over and over to others and to ourselves. Most people, however, are not aware they are doing this and they are not aware that they have the power to change the narrative - and, in fact, we can even reframe the parts of the story that are behind us - we can change our relationship to the narrative, to the plot-points.

For example: I was once a heavy drug and alcohol user. For five or so years I used any and all drugs I could get my hands on, and even when I stopped using drugs, I continued to drink (a lot) for many more years. When I chose to get sober, the story in my head was about how much of my life I had wasted by being wasted, the ruined relationships, the missed opportunities, the guilt and shame for having been so weak.

After some good therapy and some time on the meditation cushion, the narrative shifted. I no longer saw that chapter of my life as failure - it was a challenge that I had endured, suffered through, and survived - and in doing so, became a better person.

Over the years, I have learned to do this work on my own - and to help others learn these skills. It's an on-going practice - and it always will be something on which I work.

Being active, conscious, self-authoring human beings is a gift available to almost everyone (barring brain defects, mental illness, etc), but it is not given. In every moment of every day, it is something we must cultivate, earn, and reinforce in our lives. Start today.

Ending The Cycle
Start Today

Today we can make the choice to end a cycle or way of being that is not in alignment with our soul’s desire.

One of the hardest things in life is feeling stuck in a situation that we don’t like and want to change. We may have exhausted ourselves trying to figure out how to make change, and we may even have given up. However, each day offers us an opportunity to renew our resolve and to declare to the universe that we are ready for change. We may even say out loud that we have tried and struggled and have not found a way, but that we are open to help, and that we intend to keep working to create change for ourselves. Making this declaration to the universe, and to ourselves, may be just the remedy for the stagnation we are experiencing. And, it can be done today, right now.

It is difficult to understand, even with hindsight, how the choices we have made have added up to our current situation, but it is a good idea to examine the story we tell ourselves. If we tend to regard ourselves as having failed, this will block our ability to allow ourselves to succeed. We have the power to change the story we tell ourselves by acknowledging that in the past, we did our best, and we exhibited many positive qualities, and had many fine moments on our path to the present moment. We can also recognize that we have learned from our experiences, and that this will help us with our current choices.

When we do this kind of work on how we view our past self, we make it possible for the future to be based on a positive self-assessment. This inner shift may allow us to get out of the cycle we’ve been in that’s been keeping us stuck. Now we can declare our intentions to the universe, knowing that we have done the inner work necessary to allow our lives to change. Allow today to be the day to end cycles and enter into a new way of being.

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