Monday, July 22, 2013

Motivation Monday: The Stories We Tell Ourselves

The stories we tell ourselves about our lives dictate the type of life we're going to have. This is really important to understand, especially if you're in a place where you don't have a lot of financial resources. The one thing that you really can't afford when you're poor is believing everything people tell you about who you are and what your life is going to be like and most importantly, what you should want.

Oh I was just about to tell you a lie. I was going to say it doesn't cost anything to think for yourself. But oh baby, my sweet darling, it will cost you so much to think for yourself.  You will lose things; I have lost things and sometimes this loss hurts an awful lot. You will lose the comfort of the herd. You will lose sweet oblivion. You will lose the intoxicating fever of experience without context; the blissful heady rush that comes from not thinking things through. You will lose regard and relationships. It is a painful thing at times to see things as they most likely are, rather than how they are presented.

There is a price for the path I'm recommending, and it's not a small price. But I think it well-worth it, all these years on, and perhaps you will too.

The stories we tell ourselves about our lives dictate the type of life we're going to have.

Every day we wake up in relationship with Story. We tell ourselves, continually and subconsciously, a very powerful narrative. We tell ourselves if we're happy or not. We tell ourselves if we're competent. We tell ourselves if we're strong. We tell ourselves if we are healthy. We tell ourselves if we are beautiful. We tell ourselves if we are loved. We tell ourselves if we love others. We tell ourselves if we are masters of our fate or if we are helpless leaves in a hurricane. We tell ourselves if we trust our own selves, our own voice, our own experience, our own perception of the world.

We are not the only ones telling stories to us. Now, more than at any other point in human history, we are awash in a sea of messaging. We are bombarded by Stories. These stories tell us many things. They tell us first and foremost that we're not happy. That we're incomplete. That we're not good enough. We're not beautiful enough. We're certainly not healthy enough. These stories tell us that we are unworthy of regard, that we are managing our lives badly, that we are incompetent - unless, of course, we buy the right things. Given the right makeup, prescription medications, and phenomenally expensive college education we can buy our way into worthiness. That is how the story goes.

All I'm asking you this morning - and every morning - is to consider critically whether these stories we're being told are actually true. Consider how much you're exposing yourself to the narratives. You may think that these stories are  not touching you, but as a marketer of some experience here, let me assure you of this: if I can tell you several times an hour, every single day, that there is something wrong with you and that you need medication to fix it, eventually you will believe you are sick.

If we are going to heal ourselves - if we are going to heal each other, and our communities, and eventually the world - we need to take our stories back. It starts with what you tell yourself about yourself. You are smart, and beautiful, and strong, and capable of making yourself wholly into the person you want to be. You have come this far, and you will go much further yet. Telling yourself this is the first step in making it your own truth.

Onward, upward, forward, y'all. We have toxic prevailing cultural paradigms that need smashing to smithereens. I'm gonna need your help.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Are You Making the Effort to Educate Yourself?

I've recently become enamored of Twitter. I was sharing this with a friend, who said, "Oh, it's such a waste of time. There's nothing but garbage on there."

So I asked her who she followed.  She rattled off a few "celebrities", sports heroes and her personal friends. "Nothing they say makes my day any better."

Great content is not going to just fall into your lap. If you want to use Twitter and other social media tools as part of your campaign of self-education, it helps to be very deliberate and proactive about following people who post content that will enrich your mind and help you think.

This morning, @KofiAnnan was Tweeting. You know Kofi Annan - former Secretary General of the UN, Nobel Peace Prize winner? This is a person who has something to say, and someone who has been around enough that he knows what he is talking about. Why not follow him?

Follow the thinkers, the dreamers, the poets. Follow scientists and sociologists and researchers. People who are doing great work are willing to share what they've been doing. This is a tremendous gift - but you have to be willing to opt in and listen to the conversation.

If your Twitter feed is garbage, you have no one to blame but yourself. Fix it up! When you read an article you enjoy, take note of who the author is. 9 times out of 10 you'll be able to follow them on Twitter. If not them, at least the website or magazine that published their work. 

Make Twitter work for you. Set it up to harvest the information that will make you smarter. If you read one article from one smart person each day, by the end of the week, you're going to know more than you did at the beginning.