I Cannot be Unchanged by the Events Life Gives Me.
The things I have experienced do not define who I am. I decide how I am going to let these experiences shape me. I am willing to allow myself space to recalibrate my life in a way that is in alignment with who I really am. I release any negative self-talk and choose to focus on what I CAN do.
from Finding the Well in Wellness Cards by Juli Conard, Art by Faith Myers
We only become the story, if we choose to identify with the story. Our brains are literal, and will attach our identity to the story that we tell ourselves and others. This means that the language we use is extremely important to understand. Let’s play a little game. I’m going to give you a couple of common sentences that I hear in our practice. The first sentence will be the common story, excuse or complaint. The “tweak” is a flip that allows for our identity to be a little more expansive, where there is a little more opportunity for growth or a new way to experience life. As you read these examples, feel into the words and just notice how your own body responds.
“I have anxiety. It’s severe and debilitating.”
“I experience anxiety. It comes and goes, sometimes it is severe and sometimes I can manage my way through it.”
“In the past I have experienced anxiety and it stopped me in my tracks. I am actively finding ways that help me alleviate stress and anxiety when it arises in my life.”
Whatever follows “I have…” becomes a possession. The brain will hold on for dear life to what we claim as OURS. When we flip the story to be an experience, it leaves room for us to potentially have a different experience should we experience it again. It means we aren’t locked into the same experience each time around. It also means that there is room for healing, for change, for growth and that just because it has happened in the past does not mean that it will happen again. This is true for any health issue or disease or trauma – it is an experience, and it doesn’t have to define us, unless we want it to.
“I am overwhelmed.”
“In this moment, I am feeling overwhelmed.”
“How blessed am I to have so many amazing things transpiring in life to worry about that I get to have the experience of feeling overwhelmed!
“I am on the verge of a breakthrough!”
Whatever follows “I am…” becomes our identity. When our brains are activated in this way, we will literally search out situations, circumstances and relationships that will prove it to be true. We will find more overwhelm, not because we want it, but because we’ve told our brain that is what we are. This is true for any emotion. The ‘overwhelm’ has been a hurtle for me in the past, and until recently I hadn’t even realized that I was identifying with it. Now, when I have the feeling that is associated with overwhelm, I use what I call a “flip sentence.” What used to sound like “I am just overwhelmed right now’ now sounds like “I am on the verge of a breakthrough!” I chose that statement because it makes me laugh, generates excitement and pulls me out of the stress of the moment. It isn’t even a lie, because for me when I break through to the other side of overwhelm I find calm. I know it won’t last forever, that it is only temporary. Does this mean that I attract more breakthroughs? Yes. And that is okay for me, I love change, I love to evolve, learn, grow and ascend. This might not be the right “flip sentence” for everyone, so I encourage you to find yours.
Our language is the hinge to our wellbeing. The stories we tell ourselves matter. They have a direct impact on our mental wellbeing, emotional wellness and our physical experience in life. This week, we are encouraged to listen to the stories we tell ourselves and others and look for the opportunities to shift our language and ultimately shift how we are choosing to define ourselves. We are not our experiences. Find your flip.