Choose your story wisely

We both stood there astride our bikes, our voices choking with grief.

Kath pointed at the green foliage surrounding us and said, “Can you imagine if all of this was on fire?”

No, I couldn’t. It’s unimaginable. And yet the Amazon rainforest burns.

Here we are again, facing a calamity many miles from us, and yet so personal. What do we do? we collectively wonder.

How can we be part of stopping this horror?

How many times has that question come up in my lifetime? Thousands, probably, especially as I sit with people, hour after hour, hearing their stories of trauma and suffering. That question has become more frequent with the far reach of social media, and has seemed like a runaway horse in these past 30 months. What can I do? What can we do?

Helplessness is one of the worst of human experiences. Helplessness+fears about survival=trauma, that’s the equation. It can seem so true, that we are, indeed, helpless as we watch our world burn, from rainforests–and their majesty, their incredible vastness of species–to cherished our values of inclusion, diversity, integrity, possibility.

And yet…

You might be familiar with my tool, the Inner Map.

Here’s the gist: It matters what level of consciousness we tell the story from.

Our stories don’t just matter because some of them make us feel good, some make us feel bad, so we should just put on a happy face. No, which stories we choose have much more power than trying to paste some illusion over the truth. In fact, the stories we tell from “Below the Line,” i.e. from fear or sadness, anger or despair use up our energy. However, once we get back “Above the Line” to love or acceptance, joy or even neutrality? Now we’re generating energy. And the more expanded the state (that is, the farther up on the vertical line of the Inner Map the story is anchored into), the more energy we generate.  Since we are constantly hypnotizing ourselves and each other with our stories, we have the power to either drain away or actually produce our energy, our own power; that which will actually lead us to the next effective action.

I want to tell you a story about our world today. I’ll walk up the states of the Inner Map, from Neutrality to Acceptance to Appreciation to Love to Joy to Peace.

We are; our planet is. Today is Monday, and life is happening. As I look out my window, I see pine needles lit up by light that makes them as they wave in the wind. I feel my heart open as I feel the energy between us. Now that energy feels like it is dancing, effervescent, totally alive. I tune into the vastness of that energy, the quiet awareness that underlies all.

OK, get it?

I can go back Below the Line and tell you the other stories.

The ones from Shame, Guilt, Despair, Sadness, Frozen Fear, Agitated Fear, Anger and Pride. Those might sound more familiar: Because of original sin, humans are basically evil and we have ruined our own paradise. We should feel terrible about that and atone. But really there’s nothing we can do anyway. That’s why we grieve. But it’s all coming down around us now. Maybe there’s something we can do, quick, find a solution! Well, maybe we could do something, if it weren’t for all of those (fill in the blank: white men, Republicans, Libtards, etc). At least I’m not like THEM.

How are you feeling in your body? I feel sick to my stomach and adrenalized just writing those words. Now go back and read the first story. What’s happening in your body now? I feel relaxed, energized, creative.

I don’t believe that there is one true story. I think it’s all true. But now I understand: if I really am to step in and part of this defining human moment, I must choose my story wisely.

I’ll leave you with my story about humans and the world we’re facing today:

We are in a world we have never before known, one where we are all connected. For the first time in our history, we can be intimately part of each others’ lives, able to actually talk to and see each other anywhere across the planet. Our new global brain is somewhat unwieldy; like toddlers we don’t yet know how to use it. But we’re learning. And now something is dawning across our entire species that many cultures have always known: every one of us is a cell and the earth is our body. All of life is connected. We are part of an invisible web of creation that is infinite, where there exists no separation of time or space. All is well.



Watch for my new book, The Inner Map, coming out soon! I’ll be teaching the (Core) Essentials Retreat Weekend on October 4-6. Sign up before 9/4 for the early bird rate!

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