“You’ve got one foot in yesterday and the other in tomorrow while pissing all over today.”
I remember the first time I heard these words in a 12 step meeting. I thought it was kind of funny and kind of spot-on to how I was living my life. Regret from the past and anxiety for the future are the two greatest parasites known to man. Re-framing your past can be the one-two punch that knocks them both out.
As humans, we seem to have a need for evidence or at least some kind of measuring stick to track how we’re doing along this journey called life. Since the future is…well…the future we have no way of measuring it so we use our past as a reference on how to proceed. Sometimes it serves us well and other times it keeps us stuck in self defeating behaviors.
For example, I’ll probably never stick my tongue in a light socket again because I tried it once and didn’t like the way it felt. But what if I used that same logic around dating women? I’ve had some experiences with dating that make that light socket seem like sucking on a lollipop in comparison.
So what’s the difference?
You’ve probably heard of The Pain/Pleasure Principle. It states that everything we do in life is because we’re either avoiding pain or moving toward pleasure.
So why do we continue repeating things that have painful outcomes?
Have you ever wondered why you keep repeating certain behaviors you don’t like?…Or maybe you’re not doing certain things you know you should be doing. This is your subconscious doing what you instructed it to do.
In order to protect ourselves from future pain we create a story from each experience. Then we turn it over to our loyal sidekick, our subconscious, and it does a perfect job of carrying out our instructions. This frees up our conscious mind to do its work of taking in new information. If we never go back and update our instructions, the subconscious will continue to follow the information we last gave it.
The story I created around dating women had a happy ending. The one around french kissing 110 volts did not.
In addition to our own experiences, we also create stories from information given to us by parents, caretakers, our culture, the media, etc. Information like look both ways before crossing the street, don’t drink expired milk, and never date a girl who wipes from back to front has been helpful to me in my life. These stories are known as evergreen and never need updating.
But, what about the stories that aren’t evergreen; the ones that need updating as you transition from a boy to a man?
Stories created from information like, don’t talk to strangers and don’t speak until spoken to, served me well as a 4 year old but as an adult trying to become a successful entrepreneur, not so much. If you’re like I was and you struggle with approaching new people at social events, calling on new clients, or asking a stranger for help, then it’s likely that your old story is past due for a revision.
The problem is, many of us are so consumed with responding to new information from the outside world that we never set aside time to look inward. Ironically, though it’s the inner stories which dictate our responses to the outer world so it becomes a viscous cycle of rinse and repeat.
So how do we stop this merry go round and start living the life we want?
The first step to changing anything is awareness.
The best way I’ve found is through journaling. At the end of each day, find a quiet spot and reflect on your day. Start by noticing the things that aligned with your core values and write them down. After doing this, give yourself a little time to celebrate your bad-ass self.
Next notice the things you said or did that don’t reflect the man you want to be and write them down. After they’re on paper you can look at them and investigate the story you created that’s driving them. From there you can begin asking yourself, “What’s another story I could create about this that will support who I am today and who I want to be tomorrow?” Then write that down.
After you’ve made your revised edition to an old story, review it every morning like a devout religious practitioner. Soon you’ll discover your subconscious will begin carrying out the new set of instructions you’ve given it.
We are all in the business of creating.
After all, we were created in the perfect image of a Master Creator. We create our future based on the actions we take today. Those actions come from the stories we write in our own personal bibles.
Your thoughts about your past are not based on facts but the stories YOU create from those facts.
Change your stories and change your life.
Greg Boudle is a transformation coach for the recovering man. After spending decades as a hopeless addict he rewrote his own life story and transformed his past into the gifts he uses to help others. His coaching program, “Hero’s Journey – Revised Edition” has helped men in mid-life return from the brink of suicide to living happy, fulfilling lives with purpose. To find out more about Greg and his mission visit lifebeyondclean.com or as Greg would prefer it, shoot him an email at email@example.com