Last month I attended a week long workshop called Date with Destiny with Tony Robbins in Palm Springs, CA. It was a wonderful program and Tony was definitely on his game. I met so many wonderful new people from around the world.
I’m still distilling down all of the material and integrating the lessons into my life. The biggest life lesson that I took away from the seminar and immediately started working with was the idea of our life stories.
I have a new and profound understanding of just how important the story we tell ourselves is in what the quality of our life is. I’d like to share two things with you in this area. First, is the concept of stories and second is a practice or exercise that I’m utilizing and am feeling amazing benefits from (sooo excited for you to work with this!).
Your Stories Shape Your Life
I’ve been telling my friends and coaching clients since I returned from Date with Destiny that there is only now and everything in our future and our past is just made up of the story we tell ourselves. You can’t touch or smell or see your past. You only have memories, or a story, about your past to pull from and re-experience when you choose to.
The thing is a lot of us (talking to myself here!) have dis-empowering stories about things that took place or happened to us in our life and the meaning and the way we tell those stories makes up our experience of life.
Here’s just one example of how this showed up when I started exploring stories in my memory bank. I was talking with my life coach about how when I came home from DWD that I had learned the distinctions of masculine and feminine in new and powerful ways. (gosh, I hope to write more about all of that for you in future posts!) When I opened my clothes closet back at home I looked at all of my clothes and thought to myself, “these clothes are all masculine!” That’s when you know you’ve had some inner transformation when your old life just doesn’t look the same when you come back to it. (ha ha)
So, I’m sharing this experience with my coach and he says, “well, it sounds like you’ve learned a lot about the masculine and feminine and want to be more feminine. To do so, I invite you to start dressing as a more feminine woman and clearing out your closet of all of the things that feel masculine to you.”
When he first said that I thought “What the hell are you kidding? My closet will be empty and it’ll cost a fortune to replace all those clothes?!” Ok, that was first thought. The second one was…”Holy shit…he’s right!” Damn coaches.
As I reflected for a few minutes about why I’d spent my whole life buying and dressing with this closet full of masculine clothes instantly an old story and experience popped into my head. When I was about 12 or 13 I recall taking a city bus home from school one day. I remember getting off the bus, saying a friendly hello to this tall, somewhat bigger man (much taller and clearly older than me). He seemed friendly so we walked and talked for a few blocks. All of a sudden I remember either he turned me around or something and right then and there we’re standing face to face and he starts kissing me. Really hard (yes, we’re talking with his tongue down my throat).
I don’t know exactly what I did, but I know in about 2 seconds I was practically running home. I got the hell out of there fast! My experience of him was a possible molester or rapist. Who knows?! I was 12 years old and this was a complete stranger taking advantage of my body.
I didn’t tell my mom or dad and the story I made up (emphasis on those last three words) was that I caused this. It was my fault. I did something wrong. I made up that I shouldn’t be nice to men, don’t smile at them, don’t be too friendly.
I also started dressing to cover up my body using clothes like a shield to protect me from men who could prey on me and do things like this to me. I know going through college when women would talk about rape and their fears about it I felt like I’d learned a long time ago how not to have that happen to you. Just shut down, lock yourself away and don’t let men see anything they could want to “take”.
All of this was just sitting in my memory bank running the show behind the scenes in my head. You see, we live into our stories. We live from our stories. The stories we tell ourselves about something that happens shapes who we are, how we act and how we look at people and situations thereafter. I’m sure if I asked you to explore something you’re living with – an area of your life – we could quickly find the story you made up about why you are the way you are because something happened a long, long time ago.
What often happens is we go through life with old stories that are limiting us or dis-empowering us into our future. I call it pulling your past and putting it into your future – usually unconsciously. The life you’re living right now may have areas in it that are pretty crappy or just not working for you and that’s because of some story you made up that’s no longer serving you, but you haven’t examined it in a very long time.
What did I do next?
Well, I took another perspective. I took a wise woman’s perspective about the story that only exists in my mind about what happened when I was 12 years old. I decided I’d made a sweeping generalization about all men that just wasn’t true – and was no longer serving me. Right there and then I declared to my coach, and a few other friends since then who I’ve shared this with, that I wasn’t going to let that old fear run my life.
I marched on out and went on a little shopping spree. A feminine, I-love-my-body-and-I’m-not-afraid-to-show-it kind of shopping spree. I decided if I wanted to feel feminine it started on the inside and carried out to the outside in what I wore. Well, I knew that the inside had shifted because I felt so yucky when I looked at the clothes in my closet (the outer me no longer matched the inner me).
My work now is finding a balance in my outer self-expression of my inner feminine. You see, I think there are varying degrees of feminine expression and we all have a unique fingerprint of masculine and feminine in our core. I’m a feminine woman, but I don’t think I’ll ever be the kind of feminine woman who wears high heels every day. I enjoy and respect my curves now and want to dress in what feels good.
A good friend of mine and I were exploring this and I told her I wanted a question to ask myself when I’m getting ready each day so I know I’m on track. A little mantra that told me I’m not falling back into my old story and yet was living my true self from within. I came up with “I want to dress so that I feel good.” She suggested, “I want to dress how I want to dress.” As I picked apart each one with my emotional meter (inner guidance system) I liked hers more. Hers resonated with being guided by inner wisdom and not dressing so other people who give me feedback.
That’s how things have been unfolding these past few weeks as I explore my stories from the past to uncover if they are serving me. If I find an area of my life that’s not serving me and I can find the story or experience from the past that created that way of being, I pick it apart.
I hope you’ll give this a try, too. Now on to the second part I wanted to share with you about the power of stories – a new exercise!
Set the Stage With a New Story
(Goal Setting in New Ways)
The second cool thing I’m enjoying since attending DWD last month is how I’m affirming new goals in my life. Pretty fitting as today’s the first day of a new year and I’m working on new goals and spending time doing lots of day dreaming.
During DWD one of the exercises Tony Robbins took us through was to explore relationships – our closest and most intimate relationship, the one with our beloved. Following several hours about this subject he had us write out a story, a new ideal relationship story. The story was one that sounded like we would tell our best friend about how great our ideal relationship was as if it was already happening and we were living it. I wrote with a fierce excitement because as you may know I’m recently divorcing and the idea of dreaming up my new relationship sounds like a natural part of my transition into the next chapter of my life.
After we spent 10 minutes or so writing out our new ideal relationship story we turned to a partner, stood up and shared that story as if we were telling our best friend how freaking awesome this new life and relationship was. I’m not just talking hand on your hip like “blah, blah, blah and blah, blah”. We were encouraged to use gestures, to add movement in our bodies, to express ourselves fully in body, voice and with enthusiasm. I think we maybe shared our stories 2 – 3 times with our partner (I forget, but I think we did it more than once) and by the time I finished the last time I was sooooo hot for this new relationship I couldn’t wait to have it in my life.
As I got home after the conference that experience of sharing our ideal relationship story seemed to stand out among the most exciting times so I thought I’d pull out my notebook and re-read the story. The cool thing is the energy and excitement I felt sharing it at the conference jumped out at me and I could feel the excitement again. I stated reading it along to myself and getting really animated. I was walking around my house, using hand gestures, and really getting into it. By the time I’d read it aloud the second time I wanted to jump up and down because it felt so freakin’ great!
I’ve repeated this exercise nearly every morning and it’s awesome. I was so excited by how I felt that I went on to write to other stories (one for my ideal lifestyle and one for my ideal 2014). I’m now reading and generating excitement with these each day and just the process of doing it feels fantastic.
Something inside me tells me there’s a great shift. Something is different than just reading my old list of goals from top to bottom. I never generated much enthusiasm by looking at a sheet of paper that had my be, do and have statements like the way this process is working for me. I will be setting some new goals for 2014 – probably in the form of be, do and have statements, but I promise you I’ll be writing and reading my stories with enthusiasm all year long.
The thing Abraham Hicks teaches about is that everything we want in our life (future) because we think we’ll feel better in the having of it.
I’ve found, and I bet you have too, that often the excitement and ecstasy of anticipation is often more enlivening than the end result. That happened to me when I planned to and visited Bali for my 40th birthday. I was spending months of planning and dreaming about what it would be like when we were there. Being there was great, but I lived the journey of visiting Bali for way longer than the three weeks we were actually there.
It’s sort of like when someone says your vacation starts when you buy your tickets. Once you know or dream or commit to something in the future, that’s when you can start the journey of it. Enjoy the journey on the road to achieving it. In some cases, you might actually enjoy the journey more than the final destination so notice the journey. That’s what I think may be the case for my ideal relationship actually.
We all know relationships are not all sunshine and rainbows. There are rainy days here and there and things to be worked out. It’s all worth it. For now, I don’t have the living, breathing today moment awareness of my ideal relationship in my life, but I am enjoying the journey on my way to it.
This is a really fun process and I hope you’ll give it a try!
It’s a new year and a new opportunity for you to tell some new stories.
What story will you start by telling?
I encourage you to share at least the highlights below in the comments. Then go sit somewhere quiet and write out your new story and start re-reading it each day with enthusiasm! Create the emotional stirring in your heart until you’re living it, too!