It’s ok if you haven’t always known how to change your life story, or even what your life story is. At 15 years old, I was a mess. I was exceptionally miserable, smoking, drinking, and dabbling in drugs. Perhaps, some of you can relate? For me, on any particular day I could be sobbing in the bathroom, cutting myself, contemplating suicide, or just being plain reckless. I wish I could say that the despair started at 15, or ended then, but if I go back in my mind I can find it starting in my early childhood, and it lasted years later.
There are many ways that pain like this gets categorized: The histrionics of an adolescence, an uncommon experience of an unfortunate individual, growing pains (*rolls eyes*)… However you define it, my 15 year old self could not cope. For me, my pain became the story that guided the first part of my life. Learning how to change your life story is a skill that takes practice and it’s something you need to truly want. Here’s what I learned from my own experience of channeling my awareness to wake up and change my story to one of happiness, abundance, and purpose.
The first question is how did it happen in the first place?
What happened to me happens to many people. Repeatedly and systematically, I was told that my instincts were wrong, that my emotional responses were bad, that my way of being was unacceptable. I was told I needed to think a certain way to be smart. I needed to feel a certain way to be good. I needed to talk a certain way to be accepted. My life became a series of acts, transactions, and obligations. I was disconnected from my own truth.
My experience is not unique and this was not done to me out of cruelty. In fact, sometimes it was done by people who were trying their best to be loving and supportive. Collectively, we lack the broad knowledge of essential tools that help people create a personal experience that truly serves them. Instead, we default to a misguided status quo as if every individual would be fulfilled by meeting cookie cutter expectations and norms. It is very rare that anyone tell you, in the midst of your formation, that you can learn how to change your life story.
Unfortunately, by the time most people have reached the end of their childhood they have little idea of who they are, negligible emotional intelligence, and a profoundly deep belief that they need to be another person to be loved. We feel this way at the culmination of our “formative years.” We learn to compensate for what we have come to believe are our shortcomings and weaknesses – we act the part to get by. Most of us forget that there is an alternative.
Our limiting story has to be put into place.
Our first step in using awareness to change our life story is to begin to wake up to what is meaningful and enjoyable to us. It starts by pursuing a life where details large and small are things that are meaningful to us. We define what is “meaningful” through a process of personal inquiry into who we truly are. Giving ourselves this approach to life is a sign of love and respect.
As we begin to live in a way that feels right to us, we begin to uncover our own gifts. Often, these gifts have been covered over by the conditioning of our earlier lives. Many times, when we unpack what we thought was our fatal flaw we discover a powerful gift and a major part of our contribution to the world.
Our actions help us become more aware, they shift what we believe about ourselves and what we think is possible.
It is in this way that so much of who we are goes unrealized and our potential power to create our own wellbeing and positive change gets lost. Some of our seemingly meaningless quirks have a productive and positive application, we just need to wake up enough to begin looking for it. When we do, we feel better about ourselves and we begin to make a more positive contribution to the world.
Practicing forgiveness and acceptance is the key to changing our story. Acceptance and forgiveness are for both for ourselves and for others. It only takes a few trips to a therapist or an in depth writing exercise to become aware of our story. It takes a little more time to see how we keep ourselves on the hook and to begin the process of giving self-acceptance and self-forgiveness. Many people never develop this foundational respect for themselves and instead mask it with things like accolades, egoism, or bitterness.
Likewise, we cannot truly move forward until we have accepted the events of our lives and forgiven the people who we believe have hurt us. If we can become more aware of where we are holding onto past hurts, we can release them and liberate ourselves to create an entirely different narrative.
The third awareness tool for changing our story is self love. As we become aware of what true self-love looks and feels like and learn to live it more in each moment, we begin to see our story differently and to envision an alternative story that better suits us.
When our self-love is strong enough, we are able to face the painful challenges of life. We are able to learn from what is happening and apply it to our life in a way that makes us stronger and more ourselves. As a result, we change the narrative.
Apply the wisdom that gets developed when living life from a place of self love and acceptance.
This wisdom can be applied to every moment of our lives. Our developed ability to hold ourselves in a place of love and take affirming action in the face of opposition has the power to transform our world. If we no longer negate ourselves or feel the need to justify and rationalize our pain, if we are able to act constructively when faced with the obstacles of life, if we are able to remember that we are the critical change agent of each moment, then what we can accomplish individually and collectively is without parallel.
Each day holds countless moments in which we can shift things in the direction of the positive, in which we have the opportunity to leave the past and create something powerful and new moving forward. I did it and I can help you if you want to learn how to change your life story. To learn more click here to sign up for my newsletter.
Learning how to reinvent yourself professionally is a challenge at any stage of life and career. You may have already had to tackle this challenge when you lost a job, became obsolete in your field, or just needed a new level of challenge in your work-life. But what do you do when you’re called to make the deeper kind of shift that occurs when you begin craving work that feeds your soul at a whole new level? This shift requires you to learn how to reinvent yourself professionally, with spiritual insight.
At this point in life you might find that the importance of what you do for your livelihood is overshadowed by the importance of your own well-being. Sometimes this feels like, “What once worked for me no longer works.” At other times, it feels like, “The work I used to love feels less interesting, if not outright out of alignment with who I am!” However it manifests for you, this need to connect with a deeper meaning will halt you in your tracks.
When people work with me during this phase of their development, they are frequently at a loss as to how to proceed. Their craving to have more rewarding work may not coincide with a knowledge of what that is, or even a desire to make the switch to this new way of being. It can take time to do the necessary and challenging work to figure out how to reinvent yourself professionally so that your work aligns with the needs of your body, mind, and spirit.
Responding to the next calling of your personal development requires fresh acknowledgement of what is now most important to you. It also requires that you do the work to become the person who can have that “next level” experience. Adapted from the words of the spiritually wise, here are some suggestions on how to reinvent yourself professionally.
“Our livelihood is intimately tied to the food we eat, water we drink and places where we recreate.” — Mark Udall
The physical health of our bodies is essential to our overall wellbeing. This means being attentive not only to the food we eat, but also to the health of the environments that we frequent. If we work in a toxic environment, eventually it rubs off on us. If we sit all day, we eventually pay the price of that habit. The worst culprits are work environments that are emotionally toxic. Whether it is the people in these environments or the emotional price we need to pay to do the work, emotionally toxicity is a slow poison to your wellbeing.
Taking care of yourself in a holistic way means no longer settling for what is unhealthy. It requires that we become more aware of the effects that each part of our life has on us. This process can initially seem to increase, rather than decrease, the discomfort of being in these environments, but what is really happening is that we are fully noticing the toxicity that always surrounded us.
“But if you can create an honorable livelihood, where you take your skills and use them and you earn a living from it, it gives you a sense of freedom and allows you to balance your life the way you want.” — Anita Roddick
The myth of the entrepreneur tells us that with ingenuity and hard work we can create riches. This dream, and the benefits mentioned in the last Roddick quote, might make entrepreneurship seem like the answer to your prayers for balance and time. And for some, it is. And for some, working for themselves is in fact a dream come true. But for most, the spiritual satisfaction we are looking for in our work is not answered solely by taking the path of entrepreneurship.
Instead of riches, let’s focus on satisfaction. Roddick tells us that if you can do something that you are good at, skilled at, and “earn a living,” the life you want will be yours. This is not the dream of untold wealth, this is the dream of dream satisfaction. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but when you approach your work with the goal in mind solely of profit then you may miss some things along the way. If, on the other hand, you approach your work with pleasure and satisfaction as the goal, then your financial rewards will be that much richer.
“A man without ethics is a beast loosed upon this world.” — Albert Camus
Too often I have heard people diminished the impact of the unethical choices that they have been encouraged to make in service of their career. Ethics, in our current complex world, can indeed be quite challenging to hold onto. Ethical dilemmas are posed by the simplest components of what makes our job – Who built those desks you work on, and were they fairly paid? Are you using recycled paper, and do you recycle in your office? – and they continue all the way through to larger issues of race, gender and power.
If you are looking to start a new chapter in your life you will be aided by examining where you are drawing your ethical lines at this particular juncture. Once you’ve drawn this map, it will be easier to turn away from any options that are not in line with your ethical beliefs at this time.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman
For many, a lifetime of fitting ourselves into the form of other people’s wants breaks on the floor as we enter into this period of desire for deeper nourishment by our work. Some of us got degrees, careers, and accolades that were less about what we loved and more about what we felt the world needed from us. Some of us kept trying to find what the world was looking for in hope that we might be happy with it. This was not an effective strategy when we employed it at the start of our careers, and it is not an effective strategy for moving forward.
Learn what it is the lights you up. Whatever it is that truly makes you happy, when followed, will lead you in the direction of deep satisfaction. If you are unclear about how it will translate into your work, let that go for a moment and see if you can embrace the process of enjoying what you do. It will educate you about next steps, in one way or another.
We must not rest until right livelihood is within reach of every human being upon this earth we love and cherish. We all have a role to play in achieving this goal. — Agnivesh
Finally, think of what a world we would have if everyone was engaged in meaningful work that did not harm others or the planet. I sometimes struggle to image that world, but I know it would be amazing.
By taking steps in the direction of loving what you do and by approaching your work holistically you are moving the needle in this important direction for yourself and for others.
Learning how to reinvent yourself professionally with spiritual insight begins with learning how to ground yourself spiritually and create the space for yourself to grow.