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KAL_4109

"Our stories are the stairs that lead us to the stars."  Donovan Livingston, said during his 2016 Harvard Graduate School commencement speech

This young man moved me with his commencement speech.  Such wisdom at such a young age!

I do not advocate living in the past, nor do I think it wise or helpful to base current beliefs, thoughts or actions on things that happened in the past.  I do, however, think it is a good idea to take a look at our past to glean the nuggets that would allow us to live in freedom, joy and happiness.

We've all got stories.  All of us.  We are at choice as to how much we wish to allow those stories to affect us.  We can limit ourselves by saying, "Well, THAT didn't work so I will NEVER do that again!"  Or, "I tried that, it didn't work."  Or, "I had a bad experience with...(fill in the blank with your favorite whipping post) so I won't associate with those type of people."

Our stories can be pathways to hell.....

OR...

They can be stairways to the stars.

We can be like that brilliant young man, who somehow learned that without his stories he wouldn't be giving the commencement speech at Harvard.  I have no idea what his stories are, but I know what mine are.  And Livingston is right, without my stories I would not be where I am now, which is pretty close to the stars.

What are your stories?  Have you gleaned the nuggets and moved on?  Or have you decided never to do THAT again because it didn't work so well the first time around?  Have you explored the stories, done the inner work, forgiven and now live a life free of victimhood?  Or does life seem to be a series of one mishap after another, where you feel continuously victimized by the whims of the weather, other people, or whatever governmental institution you are currently dealing with?

We create our lives by our consciousness, what we focus on expands and what we resist persists.  If what is happening in  your life is not pleasing to you, it may be time to examine your stories and stop believing them.

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I love the look on this face!  A sort of "Wait.....WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!?"

This is the look I sometimes get,  and the reaction I sometimes get, when I advise a client to go within.  When I ask for the reasoning behind such a response, the answers vary.  Some find the journey within to be dangerous, and their insides a place to not venture alone.  And some simply cannot or will not believe that going within is going to make any difference in their lives.

I will save the "dangerous place" responses for another post, because today I want to address the belief that going within will not make a difference.

I can state,  unequivocally, that going within DOES make a difference.

And I realize that most of us are trained to do just the opposite.  We are taught throughout our lives to do.....get a job, help others, clean house.  Basic variations of that, and the promise is that if we do those things life will be good.

But life isn't always good, no matter what we do.  And sometimes the doing is in direct conflict with how we feel on the inside, but we don't know it because we've never gone within to check out how we feel.  This doing rather than being is so insidious that I know people who are incapable of identifying their feelings.  And because of that, they live lives of lack and limitation and don't understand why.  They keep doing, and thinking things are going to turn around, and things don't turn around, and then frustration and anger gets added to the list.

Going within means exploring who and what we are....our feelings and thoughts which are based in beliefs and values.  Going within also means sometimes exploring the stories of our lives, not to relive them over and over, but to view past events from a new perspective, which allows us to move beyond the story and stop allowing ourselves to be victimized over and over again.

When we refuse to go within and view things from a different perspective, we can almost provide ourselves with a written guarantee that nothing will change in our lives.

The invitation is this:  if you are experiencing something that is not serving you, go within and explore the story.  Explore the times in your life when something similar has happened.  Look for the pattern, I guarantee there is one.  Look for the common ground, I guarantee there is that too.  When you discover the pattern and the common ground, you are then in a wonderful position, because then you will be able to change the only thing you can change:  yourself.  And when you change yourself, your outsides will automatically change.

I guarantee it.

Today is a big anniversary day for me. On this day in 1996, three things happened: I closed escrow on my house and moved in, and my divorce was final. Two years later, in 1998, my mother made her transition.

I am reminded of this quote I recently found in a book I am reading: "when transcendence of our personal history takes precedence over intimacy with our personal history, spiritual bypassing is inevitable. To not be intimate with our past-to not be deeply and thoroughly acquainted with our conditioning and its originating factors-keeps it undigested and therefore very much present, regardless of our apparently capacity for rising above it. Instead of trying to get beyond our personal history, we need to learn to relate to it with as much clarity and compassion as possible, so that it serves rather than obstructs our healing and awakening." From the book Spiritual Bypassing, by Robert Augustus Masters.

What this means is that I can look back on all the events in my life, having achieved intimacy with them, and know that they were not something to move beyond, but something to relate to with compassion. In this way, they are the events in my life, but not present in a way that causes me grief or distress. I feel only gratitude for these events.

As a spiritual coach, I was originally taught that, unlike in traditional forms of counseling, the story is irrelevant. Now I know the story is important, but only as a beginning. We must become intimate with our stories in order to release the energy around them. And in order to become intimate with them, we need to explore them with compassion, not blame, shame or guilt. We simply hold a light to them and expose them, thus allowing the healing to begin. Denying them only gives them more power to continue to hurt us. Becoming intimate with them allows us to acknowledge them and then make informed choices: we can either base our current decisions and thought processes on what happened in the past (filtered through a very inaccurate memory bank) or we can base our current decisions and thought processes on who we are today.

I am grateful that today I have become intimate with my past, and that I base today's decisions and thought processes on today, not the past.

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