We all have one. Or two or five or 50. Stories we've let define us, encourage us, limit us, betray us, protect us.
"Things never work out for me" or "That's just how I am" or "I can't do that" or "I'm a..." insert your label of choice. Mother, surfer, businessman, partier, artist, rebel.
I took on a great story when I turned 25. "Poor me. My husband died and now I'm so sad and alone." I loved and lived that story for six years.
When I realized it was just a story I had let define me, a label I had never removed because I didn't know it could be removed, I started to see the light again. The light of day, the light of life, the light of Hope.
1. Start “Here.”
Step into your reality. Sit down and look around. Start here, where you are. Stay here, where you are. Step consciously into your future from Here.
A friend recommended Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now, and somewhere between page one and page five I had my breakthrough moment that felt a lot like finally coming up for air.
2. Meet Yourself.
In the mirror, at yoga, in the ocean, on a ten-mile run, in the woods, on the floor... let the fear go and look at who you are with and without your story. Discover yourself.
I met myself for the first time listening to a guided body scan by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It was incredible to feel tears flow that were just for me, and where I was right then.
3. Find Your Beginner’s Mind.
Explore, push edges, think differently, run free. Move, even though you don't know where you are going. Fall, get up, learn, grow.
I started doing yoga. For the first year I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew IT was doing something for me. That's all that mattered.
Marinate in new places and spaces and retrain your mind to see things clearly.
Literally. Breathe into your tight spots, physical and mental. Breathe into the stubbornness of "This is who I am," into the fear of "Who will I be without my story?" and into the stuckness of "Where do I go now?" Create space for new things, new thoughts, new beginnings.
Inhale acceptance and exhale judgment. It will feel awkward and unnatural. Do it anyway. In time it will become your new normal.
5. Get Lost.
Without our labels, our stories, our so-called identities, we feel lost and fear that we don't know who we are. You are a human Being, not a human Doing. Give your human side room to grow and your being side room to be. Your way will find you.
There will always be another story, another label. The practice of living life fully without clinging to our stories will make the inevitable process of loss more natural and allow us to live more authentic and contented lives.