Trump does it. Kanye does it. I tell you how to do it in a way you never thought of.
Ok, so let’s go the other way today.
So you know that we’re all just stories and whatever story you want to tell about yourself, that’s the ‘truth’.
Trump has given us the clearest reflection of this in living memory. That guy, (who’s priest, remember, was the guy who wrote the book “The Power of Positive Thinking), is a story telling machine.
He tells himself a story about being an amazing business man. He tells a story about being a phenomenal negotiator. He tells himself a story about being one of the greatest Presidents ever, and being a very stable genius.
Is it true?
Who’s to say? Maybe not. Probably not. But that’s not truth, that’s opinion. And Trump doesn’t care about anyone else’s opinion. His opinion is the only truth that matters, and he thinks he’s great.
He tells himself a story and that becomes his reality. It becomes his reality because reality is just a story you tell yourself, but it also becomes reality because people respond to the story you’re telling.
If you think you’re the greatest businessman ever, and start living like that, then people will generally respond as if it were true, or at least had some basis in truth.
Your stories change who you are in the world, the world responds in kind.
Ok, so the lesson here is invest in your story. Maybe you don’t need to go full Kanye and put a life size picture of yourself rocking out a stadium show on your living room wall, but in general, if you want to be happy and successful, you need to start telling a story about being happy and successful.
But let’s go the other way.
Just as stories are how we make sense of what’s going on around us, they are also how we make sense of what’s going on within us.
Find someone who’s sad, and ask them why they’re sad. What do you get?
You get a story. Maybe their dog died. Maybe they missed the bus. Maybe they never lived up to their childhood dreams and their cowardice is a cancer eating at their soul.
Whatever. You get a story.
Now, is that story the ‘truth’?
Maybe. It depends on how good they are at unpacking their experiences. How good they are at determining cause and effect. How good they are at finding the words to describe their experience. How good words are at actually capturing any of our experiences anyway.
As you can see, there are a lot of places where that ‘story’ can deviate from the ‘truth’.
(And most people actually kind of suck at those things anyway. You probably do too.)
Now look at your own emotional world, and the things you’re feeling bad about. Why are you feeling bad?
What stories are you telling about your felt experiences?
And how accurate are those stories, really?
No, the causality actually runs the other way. Always remember this.
Stories don’t create emotions. Emotions create stories.
The emotion comes to life in the body. The mind then tells a story to help us understand the emotion.
(But it’s just a story).
And really, the story just doesn’t matter. You don’t need to unpack the story. You don’t even need to go into it.
Don’t bother trying to ‘fix’ your story. You might just end up fixing a problem you don’t have.
Rather, just go into the emotion. Feel into it. Let it live.
So maybe you take a moment and sit down on a park bench, and notice that you’re feeling grump and sad.
Your first instinct is to tell yourself a story about it. “I’m grumpy because my wife is cold to me, or my boss doesn’t value my skills, or whatever it is.”
The story itself has an emotional weight, that reinforces what you’re actually feeling.
But it’s unnecessary.
All your body is asking for is space to feel what it feels.
Let yourself be a bit grumpy – be a bit sad. If we don’t anchor it in a story, it will pass.
The story is there to make sense of the thing. It is not the thing.
Give the thing room to be, and it will move on in its own time.
Because remember, your stories become who you are. And if you’re clutching on to stories where you’re grumpy and sad, then that’s where you’ll end up.
Disengage the story engine until you’re ready to use it consciously.
It’s one of the most powerful tools we have.
Just ask the greatest President of all time.