Everybody has a story, but here’s a fair question to ask yourself, “Is my story working for me?” If not, then perhaps it’s time to write a new story.
If your current story, which has been built over time as a function of your circumstances, isn’t taking you where you want to go, then what good is it? It’s time to create the circumstances you want to craft the story you want.
You don’t need a new city, a new job, a new house or a new thing, but a new story. One that’s different. One that’s useful. One that’s about opportunity and possibility. One that’s about connection and trust. A story that’s about your “why”, “for what” and “with whom”. A story that’s in harmony with who you want to be. When I realized this, it changed my life for the better.
Here are two fundamental habits needed to write your new story.
Habit #1: Create the habit of being alone.
Over the course of human history, this has proven to be an effective habit and the best gift you can give yourself. Even Jesus Christ practiced it. He often slipped away to be alone to reflect, renew and recharge. Nobody carried greater stress in life than Jesus. He faced constant demands. People frequently wanted to see him. He had no privacy. Other people tried to trap and kill him.
However, he knew how to handle the stress. He had a productive balance to his life. He had a habit of creating quiet times for himself that enabled him to handle pressure with peace.
To write your story, you must emulate this habit. Create intentional times of quietness and solitude. Noise is stress. If you always have noise, you’ll always feel stressed, and you won’t have the spiritual and emotional resources to handle it. Your smart phone is noise. Social media is noise. The TV is noise. It’s okay to turn them off. You’ll survive for 15-30 minutes and so will everyone else.
Personally, I do this in the morning, evening and when needed throughout my day. It’s especially important in the morning, as I want to start my mornings with good news. I can’t afford to fill my mind with negativity right off the bat.
Habit #2: Create the habit of controlling your emotions.
When you have peace under pressure (habit #1), you can then form the habit of controlling your emotions. Whether you realize it or not, your emotions run you. They affect your behavior, limit your abilities, cloud your awareness and impede your decisions. That’s not to say they are bad. On the contrary, emotions are like superpowers. They can be a valuable source of insight and power if you learn how to use them in productive ways.
Here is the basic framework to develop this habit:
- Make an effort to bring your emotional experience into your conscious awareness.
- During conversations, silently label your own negative emotions as well as those of your counterpart’s. This will help reduce their power and give you some space to recenter yourself.
- Once emotions are labeled, resist emotionally driven impulses and reactions. Rather redirect your attention and focus on how to achieve your goals during the conversation.
- Maintain an open and nonjudgmental attitude.
- Strive to accept where you’re at in the moment and attempt to refocus your attention on understanding your counterpart.
- Avoid being immobilized by your own emotions and direct your focus on uncovering the cause of your counterpart’s.
- Treat every conscious emotional experience as an opportunity to learn and build upon. View failures as learning opportunities to get better.
The result of developing peace under pressure (habit #1) and harnessing your emotional superpowers (habit #2) is your story. The one you want. The one that is useful to you and others.
There is also a wonderful side effect. Forgiveness is the natural result of a new story. Changing your story is the key to changing your feelings. You’ll feel less resentment, envy and bitterness, which is good for your soul. Icy feelings inside you will begin to melt. You’ll decide that being happy is more important than being right. You’ll learn the panic associated with surrendering your resentments is just your ego quivering in fear and that’s a good thing.
Don’t waste another second. Start writing your new story today. Form the two fundamental habits. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.