The always Awesome Kat asks: “LOA says to tell a new story, which is great, but how about those who remember our past and remind us of the past we want to tell differently? This technique is like lying to them…”
Dear Awesome Kat,
LOA does, indeed, teach us to tell a better story. Before I answer your question, I’d like to explain just what is meant by that, both to inform those who may not know exactly what we mean by that, and also to help make my eventual answer crystal clear. So, you know, bear with me.
How our stories are formed
Everything in our reality is of our own creation, or rather, of our own reception. Every possible experience is always available to us, but what we are able to perceive and therefore experience is a product of our perspective. And our perspective is really just a result of the stories we choose to tell ourselves.
These stories are usually developed in one of two ways: We are told them by others and choose to accept them, or we observe something and come to a conclusion. Let me give you an example of each:
1. Larry has been poor all his life. In fact, his family has been poor for generations. When Larry was young, he would often hear his parents and grandparents talk about the rich, how horrible they were, how greedy and immoral. The stories they told were those of entitlement (you have to be born rich to be rich), limitation (those who have money make it hard for those without to get ahead), hardship (you have to work really hard and suffer a lot to get money), corruption (once you have money, it turns you evil) and virtue (those without money are morally superior to those who have it). Larry accepted these stories as true and has been telling them in different variations ever since. It’s no surprise that he remains poor to this day.
2. Susan grew up being thin. She never had any kind of weight problem until after a relationship went sour. When things turned ugly, she gained 50 pounds and even though they’ve broken up, she can’t seem to get rid of the extra weight no matter what she does. Her ex-boyfriend would routinely berate her and make her feel unattractive and unworthy. She had attracted him originally to mirror some self-esteem issues back to her, but had refused to stand up for herself or leave. Instead, she had endured the criticism, letting it inform her beliefs about herself further, causing the “mirror” (the negative experience) to get worse and worse. She had kept herself in a stressful situation for years, telling herself that it wasn’t that bad, that being in this situation was better than being alone, that the times when he was nice to her were worth it and so on. In the presence of such constant “danger”, her body had built a protective shield around her (your body doesn’t understand why you would subject yourself to a dangerous situation. When the fight or flight mechanism kicks in, and you do neither, it has no choice but to protect you in whatever way it can).
The story Susan was living was that she wasn’t safe and wasn’t worthy of saving, and even though she didn’t start off with such a strong belief, her repeated observation of her boyfriend’s behavior towards her caused her to tell a far bigger and uglier story than the one that had attracted him to begin with. She wasn’t standing up to the threat or removing herself from the situation. The more evidence of unworthiness Susan faced (the more criticism she received), the more she bought into that story. She did eventually leave her boyfriend and has removed herself from danger, but hasn’t changed her story. Susan wants a relationship, but with her current vibration, will attract the exact same scenario. Essentially, she’s saying “I want a boyfriend, but when I get one, I’ll be in danger again.” The story she’s chosen to tell herself keeps her stuck right where she is – between a douchebag and a fat place.
The stories we tell ourselves may not have originated with us, and/or may be based on lots and lots of “evidence” that supports them, but they are still just stories. And we can change them if we so choose.
Telling a better story
When we choose to change our stories, we can’t just go around spouting beautiful language. For example, if Larry runs around telling people that he’s a millionaire, while unable to pay his rent, it’s highly unlikely that the money fairy will drop by his house and shower him with wealth. This is because Larry knows that he’s not a millionaire. He’d be lying if he said he was and his mind would know it. Telling a better story isn’t about lying. It’s about choosing a different perspective that actually feels true to you. A good rule to remember is this: The more detailed and specific you get, the more likely it is that your mind will disagree with you. It’ll feel like lying. The more general you are, the less likely you are to resist your new statement.
All situations can be seen from multiple angles. For example, I’m currently writing this blog post while on a plane. It’s very hard for me to write on my rather large (and freaking awesome!) laptop when I’m sitting right next to someone. It’s also made more difficult when someone is sitting in front of me and the seat goes back just a little from their weight. I can’t quite get the right angle on the screen and the whole thing becomes cramped and awkward. Unfortunately, considering that most flights are fully booked these days, it’s rather unlikely that I face optimal writing conditions on a plane. Now, when I’ve booked a flight, I generally get an email 24 hours before the boarding time, to let me know that I can check in online and choose my seat. I received no such email today, and because I was distracted, I forgot to check in from home. I realized this as I was on my way to the airport. Now, I could’ve become annoyed and assumed that I’d get a crappy seat. Knowing what I do, I let it go and assumed it would be just fine. By the time I got to the airport, all the seats were already taken. All but the last row, that was. Oh, and the middle seat of the next to last row. I took my isle seat and waited. As the plane filled and no one took those seats, it dawned on me that the Universe had kindly and lovingly orchestrated the perfect writing scenario for me. Not only is my entire row empty, but so is the seat in front of me (I moved to the middle seat). This may seem like a relatively minor manifestation until you realize that these are the only empty seats on this plane. Oh, and shit like this happens to me all the time. Ha.
I had no way of knowing, logically, how not being able to check in early would turn out for me. But, I chose to tell a positive story. I didn’t say “I’m sure the plane will be empty.” That wouldn’t have felt true, and my mind would’ve immediately come up with tons of examples from my life that proved that this was about as likely as me finding a million dollars under my seat instead of the floatation device. It would’ve felt like a lie and anyone who heard me would’ve said “You’re delusional” (oh, and by the way, your mind objecting and other people objecting is pretty much the same damn thing; it’s all just a manifestation of your own resistance). I chose to say “I don’t know how it will work out, but I choose to believe that it will.” It’s a lot harder to argue with that. I didn’t need to figure out the details of how things would work out, I just had to get into the feeling that they would, and I lined myself up with the perfect scenario. I told a story that my mind could believe (it was general enough to make it hard to refute), and which felt good. This isn’t the same as lying. It’s more like choosing the truth that feels best.
Dealing with the naysayers
So, now to Kat’s question: How do you tell a better story when those around you remember the old one? How could Larry, for example, tell a better story while surrounded by his family of Negative Nellies? Well, my first piece of advice is: DON’T!!! Telling your better feeling story to those who can’t hear you, to those who insist on telling a bad feeling story, is futile. All you’ll do is feed your own doubts. If Larry wants to tell a better story, he should do it in his own mind, in a journal, or with those whom he KNOWS will support him. For example, if he wants to start saying “Some rich people are actually quite nice”, his family would most likely react with a barrage of insults about the rich and how they’re all greedy, money grubbing bastards. If he tried to tell them “I’m moving towards financial freedom”, they would laugh at him and explain “how the world really works”.
The key here is to remember that it’s enough for YOU to tell a better feeling story. You don’t need to convince anyone else of your new truth. And in fact, trying to do so will usually backfire. But, let’s say that Larry has some friends who are sort of negative, but aren’t holding tightly to their views. He could then present them with evidence of a nice, moral, kind and totally not greedy rich person. His friends might well then decide that yes, this rich guy was indeed an exception to the rule. If Larry then continued to tell his better feeling story, his friends might well chime in.
I do this frequently with friends who have some negative tendencies (on certain subjects), but aren’t vehemently grumpy (otherwise they couldn’t be my friends). They might bitch about the economy, for example. But when I point out that they are currently gainfully employed, that they don’t actually know anyone personally who’s doing really badly, that new stores are opening up every day, that the restaurant we’re sitting in is full and we needed a reservation to get a table, that the shops are full, that people are spending money and that the economy is showing quite a few signs of recovery, it takes only a few minutes before they’re rather enthusiastically presenting evidence of recovery as well. But they pretty much come with me the second I change direction. If someone tries to argue with me, I back right off and move on to a less volatile subject.
Changing the past
But, you may ask, what about when it comes to the past? Can we really change our perspective on stuff that’s already happened? What about if the event was shared and others experienced it with us? The same rules apply: You don’t have to necessarily talk to those people about those past events. You DO NOT want to tell the old story (that just perpetuates it), but you can change the subject or walk away (yes, you can. Literally leave). You can tell people that you’d rather not rehash bad feeling memories. Even if they aren’t ready for the new story, they might be willing to respect the fact that you don’t want to hear the old one. And, if they are capable of hearing the new story, remember that you’re simply shifting perspectives.
You can call a negative event a “learning experience”, for example. Instead of talking about how stupid you were for making a mistake, you can remember that you didn’t know it was a mistake when you made it (or didn’t see any alternatives) and instead say “I did the best I could at the time. Now that I know better, I’ll do better.” You can stay away from absolutes (“Well, not ALL men are douchebags”, or “Actually, I HAVE made some rather good decisions in my life. They weren’t ALL bad.”) You’re still telling the truth, and in fact, what you’re now saying is MORE true than the statements you were making before. No one can truthfully claim that 100% of the men in the world are assholes, for example. That’s a story that many people tell (not just women…), but no one could argue with the statement that this isn’t strictly true. When you concentrate on first softening such absolute statements, you’ll face little resistance. Then, you can gradually make your statements more positive (work your way up the vibrational ladder), and you’re home free. Do you see how this is going to be a lot more effective than busting into a group of man-hating bitches and proclaiming that “Men are awesome!”? Just remember that not everyone will be open to shifting even a little bit. There will be those who will fight you to the death rather than give up their negative point of view.
The Bottom Line
Or, to put it much, MUCH more succinctly:
- Be stubborn (stay positive and don’t let their story affect yours)
- Stay as general as possible (specifics will feel more like lies)
- Pick your battles (don’t try to convince those who can’t be convinced)
- Start softly and work your way up incrementally
Yeah, I know I could’ve just said that. But then you would’ve had to go back to working, or cleaning or whatever you’d be doing if you weren’t reading my blog. So, you know, you’re welcome.