You’ve created your self-loving alternative (SLA) vision for your life and you are practicing being mindful. If you recall, being mindful means that you remember you have a choice between your habitual and programmed ways of approaching life and your SLA. You then do the next step, which is to follow the path of least resistance. Because the habit or program is so entrenched as a neural pathway, it’s obvious that it becomes the path of least resistance. Ideally you would like to have the new neural pathway (SLA) develop as quickly as possible so that it becomes the path of least resistance.
As you can imagine, building the new neural pathway based on your SLA can take some time. So much so that the momentum needed to build the new neural pathway can falter, seeing a return to old habits. Fortunately there is a key that unlocks the habit and programming, which makes its release much quicker. This expedites the adoption of the SLA.
The key is a personal narrative, a story if you will, that emerged in your formative years (generally by the age of seven) that is the fabric of the filters through which you perceive life. Everybody’s story has as its foundation issues of worth and acceptance, but the individual circumstances of your formative years result in your unique slant, so as to speak. Here is an example.
A woman has a restaurant, which is rated one of the best in her city. With growth came the need to employ more staff. A major business stressor arose when she found she had a high turnover of staff. Her Story: in her formative years her mother was very unwell, and being the eldest child, the kitchen duties fell on her shoulders. Her father had exceptionally high expectations of what she produced and how she kept the kitchen and resorted to excessive discipline behaviours if her job wasn’t good enough. She lived in fear of her father, afraid of the consequence of not having done enough. To get approval she had to be a perfectionist.
Scroll forward 35 years and this woman has her own restaurant. Tell me, would you want eat at her restaurant? I bet you would! Her restaurant was highly regarded. But also, would you want to be her employee? Hmmm, maybe not. Her staff turned over every few months. Unaware of her narrative, her story is informing her whole approach to her life to this day. It’s the cause of her dis-ease.
We all have our own narrative and being unaware of it, as our key filter, it is responsible for all that we experience in life. Being in the healing profession my whole life, I have witnessed the epidemic of exhaustion, the precursor of life-style diseases that pervades society today, that has resulted from people being caught in the prison of their story. I often refer to it as the life-sentence. Like the story of Beauty and the Beast, there is a hidden twist, a gift of sorts to be found in your personal narrative. It’s on finding the gift that you are released from the prison, from your life-sentence.
Your Story is the gift you were given to fulfil your purpose. Your purpose is your unique expression of service, your unique contribution to making a difference in the world. In the example above, once the woman understands how her adult choices are being driven by her seven-year-old (and her narrative), then and only then can she sustainably change her beliefs and behaviours as an adult. It maybe that she will continue to provide excellence in business, but instead of using the child programmed way of managing her staff, she might create a staff management system that is both honouring to them as well as to herself.
Her gift could be in the development and sharing of that system, where she gets to fulfil a greater purpose. But while she is unaware of her Story, nothing can change. As the adage goes—if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got!
Free of the Story you unlock the ties that bind you to your old habits and programs. Now you are free to more fully entertain your SLA. That increased capacity to see yourself in a more loving light also allows you to see others in a more loving light. This is called compassion. The path of least resistance in the form of your SLA is now readily accessible and you begin to choose, without discipline or will, more self-loving ways of engaging life. The relief from the burden of exhaustion and life-style diseases sees you happier and more engaged in life. This is typically accompanied by a feeling of gratitude.
Scientists know that neural pathways become more strongly developed when significant emotions accompany that development. This enhanced sense of compassion and gratitude are steroids to these new neural pathways, in just the same way that fear is to less loving (typically survival) behaviours. This means that it becomes more difficult to resort to old habits and programs when love and thankfulness are present.
What all of this means is that when you become aware of your Story, you are able to add it to the things that you are mindful of when recalling your choices. A key thing to remember about your Story, is that if you are struggling to maintain inner-peace, then your Story is playing out.
If you would like to find out more about your story, go to the Pathways To Mindfulness page on our website and read about our two-day workshops that help participants identify their story. Next time, in the last instalment of this series on Living Life Mindfully, I will discuss what life looks like when lived mindfully.
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