Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

How to Let Go of Your Stories & Be Happy Again

Self-Responsibility | Self-Empowerment | Intentional Living

If you want to let go of your stories, all those unhappy thought patterns and emotional quirks that permeate every part of your life, ones that are based on false beliefs about yourself, you must decide with complete conviction on these two things:

  • Your thoughts create your experience of the world.
  • You have the power to change your thoughts.

Complete conviction won’t come immediately, it’s something you’ll need to develop over time.  But you can, in an instant, make a commitment to align with these truths as best you can.

Your Thoughts Create Your Experience of the World

Let’s look at what these two phrases mean.

First, when I say your thoughts create your experience of the world, I’m not speaking about the Law of Attraction, which I don’t subscribe to.  Here’s why:

4 Reasons I Don’t Believe In the Law of Attraction.

What I mean is that our ordinary mind filters everything it perceives outwardly and inwardly so you rarely, if ever, see things as they truly are.  You simply see things as you believe them to be, based on your habits, beliefs, and conditioning.

When I say “thoughts create your experience of the world,” I don’t mean they necessarily create your experiences in life, but rather your experience or perception of what occurs.  If something bad happens to you, it doesn’t mean you created it with you mind.  But once it’s occurred, you can choose how to relate to it.

We could point out uncountable examples of this principle, but let’s start with a few simple ones.

Think of a person you dislike.  Are there other people who like them?  Your experience of that person is simply an idea in your mind and the feelings this idea evokes within you.  The fact that another person likes them verifies that in themselves they are not inherently likable or dislikable.  It all depends on the perceiver.

In the same way, you may be head over heals in love with a person for a while and then fall completely out of love.  While the person may have changed somewhat, it’s just as likely, if not more, that your perception of them changed.

Likewise with a flower, you may find it beautiful.  Your friend may feel averse to it due to allergies.

This is what it means, at least in part, that everything is an “illusion.”   It doesn’t mean that the person or object doesn’t exist.  It means your perception of another person, objects, thought, or emotion as decidedly this way or that, good or bad, beautiful or ugly is a misapprehension. It’s merely your momentary perception covered by many veils of habit and conditioning.

In “Hamlet,” William Shakespeare reminds us:  “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

Shakespeare Quote | Hamlet

As Shakespeare suggests, we constantly entangle ourselves in all these misapprehensions as if they were real and unchanging.  This gives rise to negative emotions, harmful behavior, and all our discontent.

The process of positive personal change involves patiently removing one filter after another, day-by-day, until you attain a clear view and are able to see things as they actually are.

You Have the Power to Change Your Thoughts

Secondly, if you’ve ever changed a habit, you know you have the power to change your thoughts.  You went from believing you “couldn’t” to believing you “could.”

Or let’s say you went to a party and got to know, in a good way, someone you felt indifferent towards or previously disliked, and thus had a change of heart towards them.

With awareness and intention, you can change your thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions.

Sometimes, your response can be so instinctive, it might seem like your emotions are in charge, not your thoughts.  But behind every emotion there’s a thought or a belief.

It may not be obvious at first, because many thoughts and beliefs operate on the level of the subconscious mind.  But if you take a closer look, you’ll be sure to find a belief hiding in the recesses. I wrote about about how, as a child, I developed a particular pattern of thinking and emotional response rooted in insecurity and fear in this article:

How to Deconstruct Pesky Thought Patterns and Wacky Emotional Habits.

There might be exceptions to this, but I think it surely works as a general idea applicable to most of us.

What Happens When You Don’t Own Yourself?

When you don’t take responsibility for our own perceptions, you can, and most likely will, fall into victimhood, the blame game, and/or aggression.

You become like a leaf blown about by the wind.  You might feel light and airy one day, only to be slammed into the wall the very next, all due to the way you perceive the words and the behavior of others.  You might even cycle through ups and downs several times in a single day.

If instead you recognize, accept, and act on these two principles, you can take charge of your mind and heart and by so doing radically improve the quality of your life, or at least your perception of your life.

This is the only way to let go of your self-deprecating stories and be happy again.

Do You Believe Your Thoughts Create Your Experience?

So let me ask you this, how much do you believe – really believe – in these two principles, to the point that they govern your daily life?

I believe these truths now more than I ever did before, but I don’t embrace them fully.  I still indulge in flings with, “Woe is me.”  I still feel flashes of anger when I recall a person or situation that exacerbated my experience of traumatic stress.  I still feel tempted to cover it up when I make a mistake.

In those moments, I’m no longer practicing self-responsibility. I have remade myself into a victim. I feel helpless and small.  And, I’m in danger of blaming, lashing out, and creating disharmony in my relationships.

That’s why it’s so important to remember these two truths, again and again.  They can help you snap out of that victim place and realign with what’s true.

How Can You Change Unhealthy and Unhappy Patterns?

Once you accept these two principles of self-responsibility, it’s all about catching and redirecting yourself.

Self-Responsibility | Self-Empowerment | Intentional Living

At first, you might not catch yourself until you’re in the middle of an emotional drama.  With practice though, you’ll be able to catch yourself before you get in too deep.  Eventually you’ll be able to catch yourself before you engage.  Ultimately, you’ll no longer be tempted to engage.

One way to start is to make a list of all the unhealthy beliefs that regularly influence your life. Rationally, you may know they aren’t true, but look deeply for the ones that influence you unconsciously.  Here are a few that came up for me:

  • I’ll get in trouble if I make a mistake.
  • If I work hard enough, I will be loved and accepted.
  • If I isolate myself, I’ll be safe.

This list represents your life path to becoming whole through eradicating one false belief at a time.  Awareness of these beliefs will empower you to walk around the danger zones.

Now let’s look at two core methods for progressively letting go of your story.  These aren’t the only methods of healing, you could dance, paint, and embody joy in many other ways.  But these two methods are fundamental to understanding yourself and how you can best move forward.

Using Awareness.  You simply observe whatever thoughts, emotions, and stories arise in your mind and allow them to dissolve on their own.

In this process, you learn to align with your awareness, the “one” who is aware of the thoughts, emotions, and sensations rather than with the thoughts and emotions themselves.  You stop seeing all the activity of mind as “you.”  Pesky thoughts and troublesome emotions gradually lose their power.  You develop the capacity to shape your experience instead of being shaped by your experience.

This is the approach of mindfulness meditation.  By cultivating awareness in meditation, you develop the capacity to be aware in everyday life as well.  More and more you’re able to notice disturbing emotions before they sweep you away, whether you’re sitting in meditation or moving about your day.

As you become more proficient at mindfulness meditation, you’ll notice that old stories, wounds, and memories begin to surface more and more, precisely so they can be healed in this way.  In meditation, you’e not suppressing emotions.  You allow them to arise, but they begin to weaken if you don’t add fuel to them.

Although you can go far with mindfulness meditation, it won’t heal all your cognitive and emotional patterns on its own.

For example, when you place a glass of muddy water on a table top and leave it alone, the dirt will settle to the bottom, that’s like allowing your mind to settle in mindfulness meditation.  If you pick up the glass and move it around, the dirt will rise again, which is what can happen when strong emotions suddenly appear.  Eventually, you need to add more advanced levels of meditation if you wish to uproot your patterns completely.

But you need mindfulness meditation as a foundation and even as a start it can be life-changing.  Here is my best advice for learning to settle your mind:

21 Meditation Tips You Need to Know As a Beginner.

Pema Chodron Quote | Self-Aggression | Mindfulness

Using the mind.  If you have very strong and deep recurring emotional patterns that you’re not able to address with awareness alone, as many of us do including myself, you can use your thinking mind to embark on healing by reflecting, examining, asking questions, and working with the answers you receive.  For example:

  • Who is it in me that is choosing to suffering?
  • What belief is causing me to engage in this unhelpful train of thought or behavior?
  • How did this belief come about?
  • What am I afraid of?

When you journal, try to think things through, engage in talk therapy, soothe yourself, or talk about the issue with a friend, engage in positive psychology methods, you’re using the  analytical or “thinking” approach   Using affirmations or thought replacement would also be part of the conceptual approach.

When you go through this process of self-exploration, remember to bring in the positives as well, for example:

  • What’s going well?
  • What are some of the positive steps you’ve taken?
  • What are some of the ways you’ve changed for the better, even if they are small changes?

If you only focus on the problematic, you might reinforce it, activate your inner critic, or feel discouraged.  So be sure to balance introspection with positives too.

Understanding can bring relief, but often it doesn’t fully change the pattern.  Many of us, including myself, have deep emotional wounds.  We may need to go through a process of healing using the mind and the heart for quite some time before we feel ready to use the approach of meditation.

Once you’ve had an  “aha” moment around your issue though, you may be ready to use awareness to catch yourself from falling into emotional traps again and again.

In its purest form, I would consider intuition to be an aspect of awareness.  However, intuition could fall into the category of analysis if it involved asked many questions, thinking about the process of receiving, or examining what was receiving.

Emotional release can also take place in body-centered therapies, which could involve awareness of the body alone or analysis of the experience as well.  In fact, body awareness can be very powerful.  You can read about how I’m healing fear and trauma through body awareness here:  How to Soften Your Fear, Calm Your Heart, and Find Ease Again.

Compulsive Thinking Brings Suffering

It’s simple:  Attachment to the wrong beliefs about ourself, compulsively thinking about them, and acting them out is the major source of our suffering.  You must see this again and again if you want to change your life for the better.

So try to remember and act on these two truths everyday:

  • Your thoughts create your experience of the world.
  • You have the power to change your thoughts.

Your happiness and your ability to create a sphere of happiness for others depends upon it.

Do you agree?  What are your thoughts on this?  I would love to hear.

Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious!  Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always.  With love, Sandra

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18 Comments

  1. Lily

    I believe most of us leave out our emotional beings, the part I call the Inner Child, when we use “your thoughts create your reality.” I got nowhere with “drop your stories” until I turned toward that hurting child and embraced her, seeing her, listening to her deeply, validating her and valuing her experience – her lived narrative, not a “story.” I’ve experienced so much healing and joy as a result of embracing this hurting child in me, and I actually did experience a very abusive, traumatic childhood. It wasn’t a “story.”

    I think lived experience that impacts heart, soul, mind and body is never a story that can just be dropped. It’s actual, lived experience and it matters. It all matters, and we all matter.

    Feeling and validating my experience and my feelings has brought me the healing I’ve longed for, not invalidating myself by calling my own life a “story.”

    Old limiting beliefs in my own unworthiness and and mistrust in life and love dropped away as I compassionately listened to and embraced “my story,” the truth about what happened to me and how I felt about it. I now know that I am a precious, valuable and beautiful being. I now know that I’ve always been worthy.

    What wounded me as a vulnerable child was not being seen, heard, valued, treasured or cared for. Invalidation of my own precious being, my heart, soul, emotions, body and spirit violated and wounded me. Why would more of the same bring me the healing I seek?

    Validation heals, not dismissing my lived reality.

  2. Hello Dear Lily,

    Thank you for responding in such a raw, honest, and confident way. I think we’re actually on the same page, but somehow I miscommunicated or didn’t communicate fully for you to have drawn these conclusions.

    When I use the word “our story,” I’m not meaning your lived experience. I’m talking about the negative beliefs we have about ourselves that are not founded in reality. I’m sure you acknowledged and challenged many beliefs like that in your healing process as you point out yourself when you mention feelings of unworthiness and trust. We can’t change the narrative of our life, the story of what happened to us, but we can change how we relate to it and any false stories we believe about it or ourselves. And, you’ve clearly done that.

    I think it’s very important to understand that I didn’t say “your thoughts create your experiences,” but rather I said your “thoughts create your experience of the world, how you see the world.” There’s a difference.

    I’m also not at all discouraging healing the inner child. These kinds of wounds can be healed through awareness in meditation and through analysis, for example when you explored your wounds and gave yourself the love that you needed and so rightly deserved.

    Meditation is not about invalidating or suppressing thoughts and emotion. It’s about seeing, hearing, valuing, and treasuring, and caring for yourself in the most liberating way possible. Of course, people can use meditation to disconnect themselves, but if they do, they are not meditating correctly.

    Yes, we need to heal our inner child. There’s no question about that.

    I will look through the post to see what I might be able to change to make it more clear. Thanks for responding so honestly.

  3. You know I love and agree with this post! If I had been taught the two basic beliefs you promote here in my childhood, it would have saved me so much pain

    Your thoughts create your experience of the world.
    You have the power to change your thoughts.

    I now, understand these two concepts and put them to work in my own life. I don’t believe in The Law of Attraction as it has become popularly known. Like you, I believe that we create our experience of any reality. Because we have a positive perspective and reframe experiences, more “good” comes back – whether it is seen traditionally as good or not.

    In this respect, my brain injury was a “good” thing as it brought many gifts to me.

    • You are truly a champion for taking charge of your life, Debbie. It’s remarkable how you transformed such a fundamentally difficult situation into an incredibly powerful force in your life. I admire your willingness to take self-responsibility and do all that you can to heal your body, mind, and emotions.

  4. What stood out for me was how many times I have felt myself to be a victim—–right now, I feel as though I am a victim of my ears.
    Even when some sort of physical or perceptual distress parks itself right in your body where you are constantly trying to “fix” or heal it, you (I) can still decide to not let it take over your life. I am still processing this and working on it, Sandra, but that is what the article helped me to become aware of.

    • That’s powerful, Jean. I know the ear issues are significant. I’m wishing you the very best with this. I think we’ll all be processing all this most of our lives! -)

  5. Like Debbie, I wish I knew these from years ago….

    Your thoughts create your experience of the world.
    You have the power to change your thoughts.

    They would have saved me a lot of pain and suffering.

    I came a long way since then. In fact, I’d like to touch on the Law of Attraction.

    The Law of Attraction is certainly not about attracting material goods. It’s more about the vibration that we offer. It is another way of saying drop our emotional baggage for we could be offering greed (which equals lack), anger, blame etc.

    When I first watched The Secret, I was lucky. By then, I had already started my healing journey and so I knew that The Secret did not offer a complete or accurate picture. There were a lot of nuances to the Law of Attraction that were left unexplained. Hence, I have to say: what was shared in the Secret movie does not equal the Law of Attraction. Perhaps we should consider not get derailed by what the marketing of the movie has done to find out what’s in it?

    Even though there is no clear scientific evidence behind the Law of Attraction, I suggest not dismissing it right away. It is almost like saying karma does not exist because we can’t prove it. People can still have interpretations that karma is a bad thing. Understanding the Law of Attraction (or the principles behind it) in its purest intent and original teachings can offer transformation in the way we think and feel.

    I’ve certainly learnt a fair bit by diving in. It’s also why I have set out to point out the differences and reconciling any perceived conflict.

    • Thanks for illuminating us about the Law of Attraction, Evelyn. I like the idea that it’s about the vibration that we offer because it’s obvious to me that our energy has an effect on ourselves and on others. I never saw the movie or read the book,
      The Secret, but I completely trust your assessment that there’s much more to the Law of Attraction that what’s in the movie and there are many nuances that take some delving into to understand. I have several friends who ascribe to the Law of Attraction and I’m happy it works for them. I’m all for keeping a positive vibration and working through out limiting beliefs.

  6. This resonates with me Sandra. I think remembering there is a gap between the thoughts and the thinker is so important – we are not our thoughts. And as you say, we only have to see how different people react to the same situation to realise that ‘truth’ can be a flexible and funny thing in many ways, and that there is more than one way to respond. Psychology supports this too, and therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy look at this very thing, to address the link between thoughts, feelings and actions, and to challenge negative thought patterns.

    • Hello Ellen,

      That’s such an important point about the gap between the thoughts and the thinking, although sadly some people may never even be aware of that at all. Your example of how different people react in the same situation is very telling too. Psychology has grown so much in the last 20 years and is really helping people in practical ways as you suggest, to really tackle their unnecessary, negative thought patterns.

  7. Lovely article Sandra. This line resonates with me, “With awareness and intention, you can change your thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions.” When struggle occurs, it is too easy to get sucked in and forget that we can change our worry, anxiety, or stress. As you mentioned, we do have the power to change how we think and our perceptions of our experiences.

    Also, I appreciate your two suggestions for letting go of the story which can help a person move forward.

    • Thank you, Cathy. Yes, it’s so easy to get swept away in worry, anxiety, and stress – they are so prevalent in modern times. If we can remember these two principles, we can have hope and a good direction that we can come back to time and again.

  8. What a fabulous article Sandra. We often forget that we tell ourselves stories based on our history and that with a simple shift, we can see things very differently and ultimately transform our lives. Thank you <3

  9. As the saying goes “Thoughts become things, choose good ones” ~ Tut
    the Gandhi quote came to mind
    “Your beliefs become your thoughts,
    Your thoughts become your words,
    Your words become your actions,
    Your actions become your habits,
    Your habits become your values,
    Your values become your destiny.”

    Yes I believe we do create our own experiences
    Great post Sandra xxx

    • These are fantastic quotes, Suzie. Thanks for sharing them. The Gandhi one is interesting as I would have thought values come earlier in the change. Good food for thought!

  10. I definitely believe that we have the power to create our own reality. Most of the time, fear holds us back from what we want to do. We worry about unexpected outcomes and end up finding excuses for not doing things. It is so much easier to pass the blame on to something/someone. I loved this post, Sandra and absolutely agree with what you said. Perhaps a few years ago, I may have argued a little, but Life has been a very good teacher to me. I believe that tough times truly teach us valuable lessons. Hugs, and thank you for a wonderful read, as always. I keep meaning to tell you…I think your blog’s name is so perfect!

  11. Dear Sandra,
    This is such a beautiful post..and yes I do agree with you a 100%!
    We are each such powerful beings…if only we can truly realize this power, we would all get into that 5th dimension like NOW! 🙂
    xoxo, Z~

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