What stories do you keep telling yourself in your mind chatter? If they’re negative, what might they be depriving you of?
Do you realize how much power we grant our mind to influence us? In our self talk? In our decision making? In our behaviour? In our outlook?
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Stories and Being Present
We have been following Eckhart Tolle, famous author of his initial book “Power of Now” for years now. We subscribe to his monthly videos from when he speaks at his retreats all over the world. He doesn’t just preach calm and “being in the now“. He exudes it. In a room of a thousand people, he commanded an attention when he walked on to the stage that you could hear a pin drop. And he held that for his entire time on stage.
He is the doyen of maintaining our present awareness. Allowing in ourselves a “stillness”, in which we can go back into ourselves, reminding ourselves of our purpose. What destiny we are pursuing. What legacy we wish to leave behind. What he calls “alert consciousness“.
A space where we are free of thoughts. Where we realize that we aren’t our incessant thoughts. In which we understand we aren’t what the stories our minds tell us we are. And we appreciate we aren’t the people that race through life “unconsciously”. On autopilot. Chasing the “having“. In the “fog” of doing. Rather than in the presence of being. And all too often simply following the stories in which we allow our left brain to keep feeding us the self righteousness our ego demands.
Where we recognize that we are in fact the “being” that can watch all this mindless thought chatter and be amused at its persistance to try and convince us who we should be and what we should be doing.
Our Stories Focus Us On The Wrong Things
Tolle suggests that all “wrongdoing” is perpetrated in this “autopilot unconsciousness” where we allow our ego to prevail. Reacting rather than enabling considered action. Where our mind and its incessant ego fueled mind chatter is allowed to control our thinking and our behaviour. Where our self talk is full of personal justifications of the positions we are taking. Where it’s all “I win – you lose”. Adversarially. Without empathy. Where we do all the things “expected of us”, without sufficient grounding in and around what truly matters to us.
He used the example of Nelson Mandela who, after decades of political incarceration, had ample time to allow his self talk to poison his mind with pity. To entrench his story in the negative. Instead, he used that time to learn to suppress his ego and focus his presence awareness on forgiveness. And showed the world that he was one of its most impressively and rarely authentic true statesmen.
(As an ex South African, my heart cries for the blatant, unsophisticated, greed powered corruption that the politics of that beautiful nation has had to watch its leadership stoop to).
The Power Of Our Stories
In their book “Crucial Conversations” the authors suggest a conversation is “crucial” when a) stakes are high, b) varied opinions or perspectives prevail and c) there is high emotion or tension in the situation. Where in the “fog” of such emotion, our judgement is clouded and we can often stoop into the same confrontational behaviour or responses we might be experiencing from the other parties.
The authors suggest that in this space, the “lenses or filters” we use to interpret those situations are based on the stories our left brain (usually at this point firmly in “fight or flight” mode) inject into the fog. Rational thinking is impaired as our brain grabs all the adrenalin it can and “goes for broke”. All in. I win – you lose. The stories we run here mostly originate from our conditioning. They have become beliefs. Where perceptions become reality. And we have perfected them to play out “faultlessly” (sic).
This remarkable book (once you get over the ongoing grandstanding) gives some extremely useful advice on how we can break these behaviour and thinking stereotypes. To revert back to purpose. To invoke a calm. To create a gap, which despite the confrontational tensions, allows us to step back and seek the best reframe to bring us back on track where rational thinking becomes possible again.
Where we can get the better of all our “stories”.
So What Are Your Stories Doing For You?
This is all about our personal thinking and behaviours, isn’t it? Where we realize that we can either cede control to situations, too strongly focused on chasing or having or doing. Or we can take control to drive the outcomes we want for our “being”. Where we can be reminded to be using Head, Heart and Tummy.
And so I have come to believe that we all have choices. Now clearly aware of this (often) mindless unconsciousness, we can develop a self awareness in which we can step back and assess our intended responses before we rush into them. No matter how provoked.
How? Well, what I’ve learned is that personal change is best achieved through the setting and sharing of written goals so others whom we trust can help hold us accountable. As I describe in Turbo-charging Your Goals.
So what are your predominant stories?
Is your journey one of survival – full of short term, ego driven, self righteous chasing and doing? Carried out in the exhausting treadmill based fog of unconsciousness? Where you work to live? To pay the bills?
Or are you pursuing your life’s work (making a difference)? Or is it one of vision? Of purpose? Of leaving a legacy that truly matters?
Your call. Life isn’t lived lamenting the past. Nor is it lived worrying about or hankering for a better future. It’s lived in the present. Right here, right now.
What if you could?