We create our own experiences. Constantly. Some say 65 times each second the mind is creating the experience each of us thinks of as reality. Yet we forget that we are the authors of our own stories. We forget and believe we are the victims of someone else’s story. We come up with excuses “if only I were older or younger. If only I were thinner or more muscular. If only I were smarter or nicer or more people liked me.”
The list of “if only’s” goes on and on and on into infinity. As long as you think your life is subject to someone else’s authority, the story goes on about why you cannot have or cannot be living the life you want.
What do your desires say? What do you want?
Listen to your feelings and needs. What are they asking for? How is the story of your mind supporting or working against what you want? What value are you getting from limiting beliefs? Your mind does nothing without some benefit or payoff. Nothing. There is always something. Even the actions that sabotage your conscious values are rooted in some valid need and have some payoff.
Reality shifts with your perception.
A sweet way to shift your perception of reality is through empathy. Empathy allows you to connect with the human being within the experience. When you empathize with yourself, you feel less alone or scared. When you empathize with someone else, you are not fixing, figuring out, or changing them. You aren’t even agreeing with them. You are simply connecting with another human being.
The easiest way to practice empathy is through noticing feelings and the needs that prompt them. I regularly help people develop more effective strategies for meeting their own needs and creating more ease in connection with others. When we look to the motivation that is driving behavior, real change is possible.
Here’s an example of how noticing feelings and needs can shift a perception of reality. The other day I noticed my whole body felt tight and rigid. I was irritable and impatient. I was playing a game with my children and getting less and less pleasant by the minute. Luckily, the other adult who was playing with us called for a mindfulness break – a time to check in, notice how we were feeling, and see if we still wanted to play the game.
I realized I was not. I wanted to be working but was stuck telling myself “I should be playing with my children. They need my attention.” Then when they weren’t listening to me and being grateful for my time, I was acting as though they had let me down and betrayed me. My mind had me trapped in a situation I didn’t want to be in. But until my friend had asked me to check in, I was unaware how my beliefs had ensnared me.
It turned out that all of us were done with the game. The kids went off to play together and I went to work, with a rueful shake of my head that after all I practice and teach, I can still get caught in my mind’s stories.
This is part of the dance of being human. We remember. We forget. We remember. Forgetting allows the sweetness of coming back to remembering.