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What's the story you've been telling yourself?

Rosamund Stone Zander has a new book -- Pathways to Possibility -- that I can't wait to read. You can read an excerpt in this month's issue of Spirituality & Health.

What I like is her focus on our stories. We all have a story; actually many. But the reminder is this: it's a story that you wrote and can rewrite. Our stories are what we tell ourselves and believe without question. She offers a few ways to uncover a story, and expose it to your own deeper examination.

  • List some conditions you are convinced are critical to your happiness. For instance, "I can't relax until there's enough money in the bank (...or, I've finished my degree; or, I live in that neighborhood; or, I have a partner; or, I have kids, etc.). Notice that your story comes from somewhere -- a comment, an event, a judgment, someone else's opinion. It wasn't always there. Notice how you have concretized into a hard and fast belief something that you were once worried about, or were too young and powerless to change. Notice how disempowering this can be.

  • Think of times you said or felt, "Don't try to change me. That's just the way I am." Focus on what you mean by "that's the way I am." What does that imply about what you can and can't do. Begin to look at how this is open to revision -- a new story.

  • Examine the words you use to define a problem that you are facing. Look at them one by one and redefine any that are causing you to get hung up. These might be words that invoke fear or resistance, or cause some kind of struggle in you. Redefining these key words can help you reframe the entire picture you have painted and see things in a fresh light.

Once we realize the stories we have always told ourselves are flexible, we are free to define ourselves in whole new ways.

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