I love to read – anything really. But these days my go to material to expand my thinking or relax my mind is often blogs about health or business or the arts, because that’s what interests me. A thought-provoking article by Seth Godin (author, entrepreneur and marketer) that I came across last week was based on the narrative we centre our lives around. You know, the play-by-play story we tell ourselves to better understand what’s happening around us.
Our narrative is our survival mechanism, helping us to move forward and solve problems. But what happens if the story we tell ourselves about our life reinforces bad habits – limiting our possibilities, hotwiring our feelings and changing our posture? What are we potentially missing about the here and now? Can we drop the narrative to better make connections, to grow, to impact, to exist? I agree with Seth Godin and believe we can by being more present.
Jill Coleman a blogger on mind-set, body and business suggests that how we see ourselves might be holding us back, that we don’t have beliefs but rather our beliefs often have us. She writes about the notion of self-concept, how we think about ourselves and how we categorise what is “like us” and “not like us”. I think she raises some important questions: What things do we take as facts about ourselves? What could happen if we had the courage to question old beliefs and our sometimes damaging self-talk?
These questions got me thinking about the narratives that have been running through my head about my eventful life these past 10 – 15 years. As a professional ballet dancer I recognised that my self-critical yet negative mind-set not only had an effect on my performance but also my physical health. The realisation of the connection between the power of the mind and what the body can achieve is actually what prompted me to eventually become a chiropractor. Although as a mature aged student of chiropractic holding down multiple part time jobs, my negative narrative was often one of time management and a rushing woman’s lifestyle. I would tell myself that I was just in a “busy patch” and that once exams or assessments or work projects had passed that I would have more time for me. Except those difficult moments came and went but the way I lived my life did not change. I realised the problem or challenge was not those situations but the on-going reality that I had created.
A helpful activity that I’ve recently included back into my regular routine is journaling. By taking a few minutes at the end of each day to physically write out my understanding of my story of my day as well as focusing on a few things that I am grateful for, I have been able to adjust the way I perceive what has happened to better prepare for the next new and exciting day.
I’ll leave you with some advice from another interesting blog I’ve been following lately – The Minimalists. They promote a lifestyle free from physical and mental clutter and talk about focusing on the important matters that align with your values, beliefs, desires and mission whilst forsaking the rest. But in order to do this I believe it is important to first know who you are and what you want.
So, what’s your story? Is your self-concept holding you back? Are there ways you can be more present?