Have you ever taken time to reflect upon how the stories of your life may be influencing your sense of well-being in this moment?
Take a moment to pause…as you become aware of this moment, gently take a few deep breaths and notice how it feels to be alive and well. What thoughts are present in your mind? How do they reflect the way you feel? Inquire whether these thoughts, emotions, and how you feel make sense. Now trace them back to the bigger picture of your life. What kinds of stories encompass your life? How do these mental and emotional representations reflect the story/stories that you hold to be true in your life? How do these narratives affect your life? As you explore, remember to pause and reflect upon the many aspects of your stories. Be conscious of how they affect your sense of well-being and any insights that you may receive, and pay attention to what parts you would like to look at differently or might like to change. Be open to the possibility of creating new perspectives through which you can look at your life differently, re-authoring those narratives that are congruent and enhance your sense of well-being.
Life is filled with stories, intricately weaving our experiences of each moment, life events, relationships, failures, and accomplishments influencing our sense of well-being in this present moment. When we look at the world around us, whether at our culture, society, community, or the nuclear family unit, the stories help us make meaning and help us understand how to think and behave. Our attitudes are formed and shaped depending on the stories we heard and the stories we create as we continue to gather experiences. Consequently, we make mental representations of how life should be for us and for others, thus forming biases, prejudices, and opinions that put ourselves and others into categories and boxes. Inadvertently, through mass media and social media platforms, we swim in the narratives of the world at large, creating incessant noise and clutter in our personal space. Like a thief in the night these stories of the external world slowly creep into our mental space and our lives, building fortresses in the mind and making it part of our own story. Often unexamined, our stories inform us what values, rules, and norms we should adopt, follow, or adhere to ‘fit in,’ thereby dictating our well-being.
So, what happens when our personal narratives are unexamined?
Think about a story that seems to pop up in your daily conversations when you want to improve, develop, or change an aspect of your life. Perhaps every time you try to attempt to acquire a new skill, start a new project, or address a current situation that may need your attention, these messages can hinder or block action by infusing fear or anxiety. First we can look at the parts of the story that seem to appear as problems, issues, or challenges. Our stories tend to have many themes that can sabotage or delay the promises we make to ourselves. This story may be present in your self-talk or in your familial or social discourses. Further, it may have origins in your childhood. Regardless, somehow it is quite prominent and takes precedence. Look for the words that are embedded in the narrative that seem to manifest as self-defeating thoughts, attitudes, and figure out how they correlate to your behavior in the present moment.
Check the impact of your narrative that is dominant concerning the quality of your personal and professional relationships. Long standing unresolved issues tend to appear in various forms and hover over our most intimate and dear relationships.
Some of the key themes are rooted in issues related to trust, honesty, and forgiveness that create myriad problems in our relationships. Examining how we relate to others using these narratives shapes our worldview. Often the problems that stem from our inability to forgive, either ourselves or others tend to have tremendous burden on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. As you explore the story, reflect on these themes and how they affect your well-being in this moment.
Investigate a narrative that influences your perception of work, whether it is raising a family or generating an income, while balancing various other responsibilities in maintaining a life of quality. Examining the story will help you identify the priorities in your life and how they relate to the preferred version of your life. What values are being met, or how are they being supported or jeopardized?
Values provide us a framework and alert us when there is a discrepancy through some form of physical or emotional imbalance — anger, irritation, and frustration. Often, time and lack of energy tend to appear as problems. What is the impact on your family? Spending time with family or your spouse and engaging in activities help strengthen the bonds and nourish the relationships. It is equally important to find to engage in activities that restore your energy.
You may need to take a closer look at your expectations and how the social and work pressures and other commitments may put undue stress. Sometimes it is necessary to scale down on activities, projects, or other ventures to allow more time with family. Sometimes you need to voice your concerns and identify where you may need outside support. These approaches may help you to be clear, reorganize yourself, and follow a path that is consistent with your values.
What would be a story that you would like to broadcast in the universe, to remain in eternity?
In your repertoire, there may be many stories of you overcoming challenges and difficult situations. These instances could have been conflicts in a relationship, move, death of a loved one, change of family structure due to divorce or children moving away, serious illness, or any other life altering or daily challenges. Themes of grief, loss, and trauma in our story can put enormous pressure on our sense of well-being. However, it is important to be mindful of our resilience, our ability to pick up the pieces and move forward. In your story, contemplate on what or how you dealt or coped with those times. Identify personal strengths, skills, or talents that you may have employed in overcoming those situations. When there was a person or persons involved, think about what characteristics of that person/s helped ease your burden, pain, or suffering. Remember that an attitude of gratitude is a key component of our sense of well-being. When you come across new challenges, it is important to remind yourself of how you navigated troubled times and thrived despite the hurdles so that you can reach a new center to support your well-being. Now, think of a story that reflects your best self, one which you would like to broadcast to the whole universe, to remain in eternity.
Our stories help us make sense of our experiences, have an impact on our well-being, and carve unique imprints in the world. As you carefully investigate one story at a time, make breathing space, de-clutter, and identify the messages that seem to constantly pervade your present moment as problems. See if you are willing to negotiate or exchange other words or phrases to reflect a preferred version of your life. It is not changing what happened, rather accepting it and giving a chance for another way to look at it: lessons learned and opportunities for growth that will enable and allow new possibilities. Remember to scan each story for moments of triumph and success! Continually free your mental, emotional, and physical space of clutter in your stories so that you can respond to the present moment with authenticity.
Remember, life is found in the present moment!