“If we aren’t aware that these stories are being told — both internally and externally — if we do not even know that they are stories, then we are unwittingly at their mercy and we miss an opportunity to mature.” —Gangaji
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #125
As fewer and fewer people have landlines as the transition to mobile communication has become common place, we can all most likely recall a situation in which the service was spotty. Consequently, the communication became nearly, if not entirely, impossible and the quality of the experience was greatly diminished. Similarly, when we choose to dine at a restaurant and the waitstaff neglects to tend to our table, brings us the wrong food and then attempts to hurry us out the door in order to seat another reservation, the quality of our experience is diminished and most likely we may refrain from returning in the future due to the negative memory.
The idea of service is defined as doing something for someone or fulfilling a need. Keeping this definition in the forefront of our mind, contemplate the following phrase, “Let go of what is no longer serving you.”
I recently came across this phrase, and it fueled great contemplation to determine what exactly was serving me and what was not. After all, if it was as easy as letting it go, I couldn’t help but at least try to determine what I have welcomed into my life that was hindering my potential, progress and attainment of contentment. And perhaps, I wasn’t even aware of the hindrance, which in many ways made this process harder. However, during the past six months I have been pondering the idea of stories.
Stories are what we allow to infiltrate our mind and filter how we see the world, and thus how we decide to live in the world. In Brené Brown’s most recent book Rising Strong she’s relabels the stories we tell ourselves that do not serve us as “conspiracies” and “confabulations”. I found such diction quite accurate after further investigating the stories I have been telling myself for years that truly have never been of benefit to me in any way.
Brown goes on to share that “in the absence of data, we will always make up stories . . . in fact, the need to make up a story, especially when we are hurt, is part of our most primitive survival wiring. Meaning making is in our biology, and our default is and offers us insight into how best to self-protect.” And when we craft a story that we are satisfied with (no matter how true or false), “our brains reward us with dopamine when we recognize and complete patterns . . . unfortunately, we don’t need to be accurate, just certain.” Ah, and here is where we must catch ourselves. This is what can be difficult.
In order to get to the truth, we have to be comfortable with uncertainty for a time. We have to be okay with being vulnerable because that is the only way we will get to the truth. We cannot demand that the answers be available when we want them to be simply because we are hurt and want to feel better. No. We must recognize that accepting a story that is false will actually cause us even more pain.
Let’s get back to the idea of service. The good news about service, as it relates to stories, is we are the ones providing the service to ourselves. We are the ones picking the “book” off the shelf and choosing to devour what it has to say because in our minds at that time, minds that do not have all of the information, it fills the void of what we do not know and seems to ameliorate the pain.
For example, if your life isn’t following the path you had expected or perhaps what your family had expected of you, you may accept the story of what has been tossed around either at the family dinner table, your community: that you’re so far off track, there’s no hope of achieving true contentment. Just give up now, throw your hands up and accept the negative names and labels that have been used to shame people for not adhering to what is “normal”.
First of all, do you know how hard it was to even write that paragraph? Such a story is full of gaps and accepted fallacies and falsehoods, but what made it even more difficult to write is that many people accept such stories and give up. They give up after having accepted a lie. But the lie is what they’ve been conditioned to see as the truth, and so they feel they have reached a certainty and at least know. They would rather know and then accept something that is in no way going to enliven them, bring them contentment or in other words serve them (remember the definition? to fulfill a need; to help someone), than leave themselves vulnerable for a temporary period of time.
The truth about stories is that they contain no truth. Sometimes we have to accept that we just don’t know the answers, and while we most likely will know the answers down the road (but not always), we have to find comfort in not knowing. I have shared my experience often about always wishing I would have had a role model, a complete role model to look up to so that I would know exactly how to proceed through life. Why? So I wouldn’t have to deal with uncertainty.
Uncertainty is uncomfortable. But the funny truth is, even if I would have had a role model to attempt to imitate, the circumstances wouldn’t have been exactly the same as we live in a world that is perpetually changing. And as scary as that may sound to some, it is actually a very good thing. Why? Because we are the drivers at the wheel. We can have a say in how we travel the course of our lives. But if we choose to accept stories or anything into our lives that does not serve us, we are the only ones to blame.
After reading this, if you examine your life and you determine that you have a story or two that is not serving you well, not bringing out the best in you, or holding you back, take a deep breath and accept that not knowing why certain aspects of your life are the way they are is okay. Not knowing will leave you open to jump starting your curiosity. You will be more motivated to seek the truth because you know that accepting a lie hasn’t served you well at all.
The benefits of recognizing what is no longer serving us is manifold:
- We become unstuck
- We open ourselves up to healthier relationships
- We learn how amazingly capable we are
- Our mood is lifted
- The world becomes a more enjoyable place to live
- We stop projecting our fears onto others that had nothing to do with where our pain came from in the first place
- We begin to heal
- We begin to mature and grow and step into being the person we are capable of being
The idea of service is really about what is enabling you to live your best life. Today the discussion centered around stories but if there is anything else in your life that is not serving you, consider why you have allowed it to remain in your life. Would you put up with spotty cell phone service repeatedly? Would you put up with an elected official who was not doing their job to represent their constituents? Would you put up with unreliable utility service of any kind that you need to run your life? Let go of what is not serving you and you will set yourself free.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
I have made many apple pies and apple tarts in my baking past, but this time I was in search of the perfect flavor. After listening to Lynne Rossetto Kasper and her advice on how to choose the perfect varietal to achieve the ideal tart and sweet flavor, I figured it out.
~Click here for the recipe