In a very real way, the stories we tell ourselves inside our own heads every day change what and how we see our lives … And this "self story" is a simple collection of beliefs that ultimately make us what and who we are. It lays the foundation for every action we take or don't take in life. And a sudden "wrong turn" of thinking can point us down the wrong pathway in a heartbeat! So where do these false beliefs begin and why and how do we support and empower them?
... Misperceptions! Sometimes our perceptions of another’s intentions are really misperceptions on our part, and can be further compounded if we misread their actions and behaviors. What might it look like if you took a moment right now and thought about an instance or two in your own life when you may have “mis read” someone’s intention and actions. Who might that be? A family member? Life partner? Child? Friend or neighbor? What if you truly thought it through and considered that perhaps your perception might have been a mis-perception ... how would that change the relationship and your feelings toward that person? The next question is to then ask ourselves “How can I now reach out and mend that relationship?”. The best answer is usually the most simple - call them, send a note, visit them ... this little step might be a blessing to you both! Relationships based on truth are always worth preserving!
Rewriting History - Later in life as we look back on events and relationships, we might find instances where we’ve changed the truth and have “rewritten history” to both absolve ourselves of any guilt and responsibility for our actions. My encouragement is that you will take the time to revisit those times when you may have rewritten the truth. It’s not necessary to absolve ourselves of guilt in life, but it is necessary to always seek the truth, take responsibility for our actions, make amends for our actions wherever possible, and then move on with greater freedom. Trust me, it’s good for our souls!
We usually believe that failure is the end product, and starting over is not an option!
What is the difference between mature thinking and beginners thinking? The mature thinker has failed more times than the beginner has even thought of trying! Behind every great exploration, invention or work of art is a hundred failed attempts, but we never think of those attempts. We don't think of the mistakes, failures and "breaks". I think the Chinese have a great way of seeing those "breaks" - when something of value "breaks", they frequently repair it with gold! And the gold makes the broken item more valuable! And how about the lessons we learn in playing chess? No one wins a game of chess by only moving forward, sometimes we have to move backward to put ourselves in the position to win the race! Think about how this relates to your own life. Life gradually teaches us that U-Turns are allowed. So turn around when you are on the wrong pathway! There's a big difference between giving up/giving in, and starting anew in the right direction. What might seem like a horrible detour might end up offering us a great opportunity!
We believe that comfort is our final goal!
Are we too "comfortable" in our own "Comfort Zone"? Do we find ourselves reluctant to ask hard questions about our stories because of what we might perceive as a substantial disruption to our
comfort zones? Do we then hesitate to ask "why? how? when?". Is our reluctance stepped in even more untruths? When we stretch our minds with new questions, experiences, and opportunities, they never shrink back to previous dimensions. We are always competent, capable and able to embrace newness. Emotional discomfort in life, when accepted, rises ever higher in waves that enable us to grow in awareness, resilience and growth. We believe that "There's always Tomorrow"
We all know that life is short, but do we really believe that? And if we do, why are we always surprised when someone we know dies? Isn't the truth that someday there really won't be a tomorrow? Are we wasting today by not telling ourselves the real story in our life? And embracing it? Living each day like it was our "last day"?
Bearing in mind the above suggested ingredients to help turn things around let me tell you of a real incident in my office....81 year old Michael a retired scientist at NASA and his wife Marsha have been my patients for over a decade. That day he looked very different. Haunted defeated eyes which looked very prominent on a gaunt face, hair unkempt, a weeks growth of scruffy beard. His scrawny physique and protuberant Adam's apple made it appear as if death had warmed over. His wife had already primed me about his recent disastrous initiation into dialysis and how he had made her life hell. He had convinced himself that this was the death knell and had gone into deep despair and had started making arrangements for his demise. I entered his room looked him in the eye and said Michael you are not dying! And by the way I hate beards so get to the barber today get a haircut and a shave! He looked at me dumb struck and I went on I have patients on dialysis who live 20-30 years with no problems. I gave him an example of another patient of mine a war veteran who did not want to waste any time due to dialysis and would go every other day at 4 AM for the 3 hour session of dialysis , so that he would not lose out on any part of his day! "losing you is not good for my business , Michael! So better get your act together , get a hair cut and a shave and report to my front desk every week for an inspection "! He smiled and I saw the glint back in his eyes. Promptly the next morning, my receptionist came to me with a perplexed look and said that there was a gentleman at the front desk saying that he was here for an inspection. I looked towards the front desk and found the Michael I had known . Bright and sprightly. Hair was cut and colored and he had a close shave as well! Marsha stood behind him with a smile and a glint of tears! Michael’s "truth" was that his diagnosis and treatment of dialysis was the "end of the line" for him and his appearance, demeaner and outlook bespoke that "truth". It was the very small intervention that brought the "real truth" to his life and the life of his wife. In a moment, the clear truth was revealed to him and the direction of his life was changed.
In closing, I'd like to add these words of encouragement ~
Promise Yourself ~
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person your meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them that is very special.
To look at the sunny side of everything and to make your optimism come true.
To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own success.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too calm for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this truth to the world, not in loud words, but in great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you and your true story.
The words are not my own, but the heartfelt feelings are truly mine.
The Physician who promises to always cheer you on,
Dr. Ashish Sachdeva