I just got back from a conference in San Jose, where I miraculously bumped into an old friend in the hotel lobby who I haven't seen since we were both living in Montréal six years ago. And! He doesn't even LIVE in California! He's just in town for a few days on business from Calgary.
My mind = blown!
Anyhow, in the spirit of expanding last week's story of how I achieved a "miraculous" health outcome into something you can apply for yourself, here are 7 practical steps you can take to start flexing your powers of story transformation from the inside out. By no means are these an exhaustive list, but they are some of the most important:
1. Know, without a doubt, that YOU are the co-creator and steward of your own waking dream.
Everything you experience is a result of the universe responding to what you believe to be true.
Many of us never got to choose what we believe in - we simply inherited beliefs and rules for living from our parents, our peers and society, and we never stepped back from them long enough to question them and see if they hold up to scrutiny.
Here is your permission: Pull out your beliefs, one at a time, and hold them up to the light. Question them. Challenge them. Ask, "how true are you, really?" Poke them to see if they persist, or dissolve. Break a rule just to see if the sky falls down.
When you discover for yourself that the world is not black and white, but infinitely gray and wonderfully subjective, suddenly you are faced with a choice: to see it as a source of fear and insecurity; or to see it as an invitation to create the outcome you want.
2. Accept how things are now. You can't control what happens in your life, but one thing you can always control is how you respond.
Unfortunately, the most common reaction among humans is resistance. We spend oodles of time wishing things were different and hiding from awareness of the changes WE need to make before we can create a different outcome -- which is a HUGE energy drain.
Instead, take honest stock of where you are, and how you may have unconsciously participated in bringing about your current reality.
Perhaps your challenge is an unsatisfying job, a difficult co-worker, an imperfect spouse. How does your resistance show up and make things more difficult for you? How would acceptance free you from unnecessary suffering?
PS. Want to get great at present-moment acceptance in a hurry? I highly recommend this amazing meditation retreat.
3.Find what there is to be grateful for.No matter how shitty things get, there is always something to be grateful for and always something to celebrate.
The trick is to remind yourself of this fact every day, and then articulate it -- either out loud or in print.
In my case, I had a wildly supportive family who dropped everything to keep me sane and help me heal -- not to mention a fierce patient advocate/ lioness mother who got me out of the hospital as soon as humanly possible. It was summertime, so I didn't have to deal with ice and snow. As soon as I asked for an escort from my yellow chair in the kitchen to the gray one on the patio, I could be immersed in the gorgeous, sweet song of nature. Friends drove from far and wide just to sit outside with me for hours. For all of these things and countless others, I felt a near-constant river of gratitude, and I wrote it all down.
Look around you for the tiny miracles of being alive. Where do they show up for you?
4. Ask what there is for you to learn. Every source of frustration and pain contains the seed of transformation through awareness. What thinly veiled opportunity awaits you, if you were to embrace the lesson buried in your challenge?
When I asked myself this question, the answer came back loud and clear: I needed to learn about vulnerability and interdependence, two things I resisted for the first few decades of my life. That summer, I had no choice but to ask for and accept help for the most basic tasks. At the time I suspected it was necessary to make me a better and more empathetic human; now I know that it was preparing me for the work I do today.
What is the universe trying to teach you?
If you are experiencing the same challenge again and again (getting passed over for promotion, being told no, attracting the same unhealthy relationship), they will keep happening until you are ready to embrace your lesson.
5. Visualize your ideal outcome. What you see in your mind's eye is absolutely part of the story you live internally. So many of us waste precious energy reviewing past mistakes and conjuring worst-case scenarios that never come to pass.
Remember: Worry is a prayer for what you DON'T want.
Instead, use the power of your imagination to picture what you DO want, and feel the feelings you would feel if this were your reality.
It's also important to let your vision change as you evolve. When I was sick, I conjured a golden cocoon of healing energy. (Thanks, Dad!) Now that I am well, I picture an entire page of "order notifications" in my inbox following the launch of my first online course.
What do you want the most? And what will it LOOK like when it happens?
6. Be extremely selective with your attention. All around you in every moment, there is evidence that will confirm any theory you have about what's true. You don't have to look far to find evidence of pain, suffering, limits, and hundreds of things to be afraid of. But you also don't have to look far to see evidence of magic, abundance, love, and meaning.
What you pay attention to expands.
Where do you choose to look? Where do the people in your life ask you to look? If there are people who tend to bring you evidence of scarcity, fear or suffering, you might ask yourself whether it's worth the psychic toll this takes on your ability to create the life you want.
7. Consciously craft a new story. This may require the assistance of a trusted friend or advisor, because each of us is so mired in our own internal narrative that it's near-impossible to get perspective by yourself.
But sometimes it's clear what we need to let go of in order to build the life we want. For me, the debilitating story was the one the neurologist wanted me to believe: it will take up to a year before you can walk again.
For you, it could be anything. Each of us has dozens of stories running on a loop in our heads, and they will be harder to uproot and replace the deeper ingrained they are. But you don't have to tackle them all at once -- one is a great place to start.
Which story are you ready to uproot, and replace with something new?
Think of the happiest and most successful person you know. What stories do you think they tell themselves when their alarm goes off in the morning?
And what's stopping YOU from choosing one of those?
I want to hear from you! Which story are you ready to let go of? Leave a comment below.