What's Your Life Story? Do You Need to Let it Go?
by Catherine Pratt
Have you ever heard anyone say, “It’s not my fault. I had a horrible childhood. I can't change my life story."
You’ve probably read this statement more than a few times in the newspaper usually when someone is trying to use their past to explain why they’ve committed a crime. You may not have done anything criminal but ask yourself if you use your past as an excuse for your current behaviour or why nothing seems to go right for you?
If you do, as I’ll reveal on this page, it may be time to leave your past life story behind and allow something new and much more positive to enter your life.
To start with, yes, it’s true, you can’t change the actual events of the past. There is a problem though when you cannot give up your “story” about those events. Your story is what you tell yourself over and over in your head. You use it to justify your actions and you continue to tell the same story again and again to anyone who will listen.
How Do You Know if You’re Trapped in Your Life Story?
As long as you are trapped in your life story you will find that:
• You are so angry about past events that it is all you ever think about and you may take your anger out in various self destructive ways
• You may have a hard time relating to other people
• The world seems to be a lot of effort and it’s not really a happy place
• You feel that people seem to be out to get you
• The world is not fair
• You say things like:
- “Why do these things always happen to me?”
- “Nothing is ever going to change”
- ”Story of my life”
• If you stop and consider what your thought patterns are like, you’ll realize it’s probably mostly negative thoughts you’re thinking all day long. Someone will say something and you will instantly see the negative in it.
• You may have a very sarcastic attitude
• Even when you are by yourself, you imagine conversations telling other people your story. For example you might think, “I was abused as a child and we were so poor that everyone looked down on us.”
If you are living only within your story, you will find that it affects everything you do from your job to your personal relationships. Your view of the world is greatly shifted to the negative. I can tell you from personal experience that it's also a very tiring way to live. Being angry all the time takes an enormous amount of effort.
Do You Care More About Your Past Life Story Than in Living Your Future?
So, the question is, ”Do you care more about your past life story than in living your future?”
Until you make that decision, you will be unable to move forward in your life. You will always be trapped in the past and you will continue to attract negative events to yourself. This happens because no matter what good thing happens, you can only see the negative. You'll also find that you get what you give in that if you're always angry and frustrated with your job, friends, family, etc. you'll find that you're going to be receiving the same in return from these people.
The good news is that you have the power to change how you think about your past. It doesn’t change the event but you change the meaning and the interpretation of it for yourself. Previously, you might have allowed your story to mean that you’re dumb, or you're ugly, or nothing good will ever happen to you, or you're simply not good enough. This part can definitely be changed.
You also have the ability to let it go. Carlos Castaneda, author of the “Don Juan” series, said, "It doesn’t matter how one was brought up. What determines the way one does anything is personal power." He has said that giving up his past was one of the best things he ever did. He simply gave it up just like you might give up chocolate or drugs. The stories of his past weren’t serving him for his future, so he let them go. By releasing them, it meant that there was now room for something new. Your past does not need to always be a part of your identity. You are more than the situations that have happened to you in the past. It is not who you truly are and you are not just a past negative event. Your story needs to be more based on developing yourself to your greatest potential and looking towards the future and where you want to go and what you want to accomplish.
How To Give Up Your Story
"Without a story, life only gets richer." - Byron Katie
Depending on how long you've been caught up in your story, it's probably not something you'll be able to give up overnight. It will take time to allow yourself to first be aware of how much it's affecting your current life and then to be able to completely release it in order to allow the new you to emerge. It's important to keep working on letting it go until you no longer think about it very much, if at all. Yes, it happened but it's not a big deal anymore. Here's some suggestions on how to start the process:Forgiveness – forgive the people involved, forgive yourself. Forgiveness is the very first step. For more details on forgiveness, please see:
- Forgiveness - How It Will Change Your Life and the Confidence to Let Go Of Your Past and Your Suffering
Look at the event in a different way – Changing your thoughts about the event won’t change the event but it will affect how you view the event and what it means to you. For example, it may mean that you no longer consider yourself "worthless" because that event happened. As I talked about in How to Be Good Enough or What I Learned From Barney the Dog I used to think I wasn't good enough because my parents didn't have a lot of time to spend with me. Changing how I look at that event doesn't change the facts but it completely changes how I feel about the situation and myself.
Let go of the emotion – you’ll find that as soon as you can release the emotions involved with the event, the event will no longer be as vivid in your memory. It will become hazy in your mind. It is the emotions that keep it so strongly attached to the front of your mind. Detach yourself from the emotions and you’ll find that you can finally let go. Once you've managed to forgive, you'll probably find that the emotions disappear on their own.
Live in the present – as Ekhart Tolle says in the “Power of Now”, you have no problems right in this very moment, it is only when you add the future or the past to your thinking that you have problems. Start living more in your present and you'll find that the past doesn't have as much power over you anymore.
Focus on the future – what do you want to do, what do you want to achieve? To start with, you may even have to start with “What do you like to do?” as you have been so wrapped up in your past, it can be hard to start thinking about your future.
Awareness – you’re a truly special person. Raise your awareness on how unique you are. Keep reading inspirational books and articles to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind. Be aware when negative thoughts take over your thinking. Whenever you start telling yourself your old story, tell yourself to let it go. You don't need it anymore. It all starts with awareness. The biggest step is sometimes simply awareness. As soon as you're aware of something, you can then take action to change it.
The most important benefit from being able to release the negativity of your past is that you will completely change your life. It will totally affect not only how you view your life, your present, your future and all your relationships, it will alter how people treat you. It's a magical event. It's only once you let go of the past that you suddenly get to focus on the amazing future waiting for you as well as suddenly see the beauty all around you right now. Beauty you could never see before because you were so caught up in your past. It's truly one of the most wonderful things you can do for yourself.
You are what you think all day - Joseph Murphy
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