Thursday, 8 August 2013

Of 'stories' n 'glasses'

It  has been a while since I last wrote. I always wonder why I can overlook doing this though I strongly believe in its ability to lift a cloud off me each time I type. Until I received a reminder from someone...

In this case, it was a reminder from HQ after we attended the Landmark Forum, an evening where I witness the globalised profitability of the positive psychology business.

Basically, it works somewhat like motivational coaching, where one will uncover oneself, and derived 8 major benefits after a 3-day session:

1. Freedom from past regrets
2. Happiness
3. Stop procrastinating
4. Courage
5. Self-confidence
6. Peace of mind
7. Stop having difficulties making decisions and doubting oneself after a decision is made
8. Ability to express love

Of the 8, number 6 is the one that I always have difficulties with, especially in my current job which serves as a rich and fertile breeding ground for all my neuroses, anxieties and worries.

I always believe I inherited this trait from my father, who tends to be quite a paranoia. Ironically, papa's paranoia was something which my younger sister and I often laughed about in our private moments as we observed our dear papa being so worried about things we never thought was possible to worry about. As we grew up however, we realised how we are so much like our dear papa.

I recognise this is very much part of me, my DNA, my genetics and hence I embrace my anxieties, warts and all. Yet I also realise its debilitating nature. My anxieties do not cripple my actions (erm as yet), but they do lead me to worry lots, affecting my sleep and my spleen (TCM believes this is the organ most susceptible to anxieties and worries). They lead me to create 'stories' all the time, using Landmark Forum's lingo, ranging from short stories to novels. They ran the gamut from "If I am late for 5 minutes for an appointment, it shows me to be a tardy person" to "If I don't sleep at least 7 hours tonight, I will feel vulnerable and will fall short at my ability to defuse any tension that occurs in the classroom, will lose control of the classroom situation and a fight will break out. When a fight breaks out, it signals my inability to control my class and I will be judged for that. I will also have to spend so much picking up the pieces that I will have no time for lesson planning. That will mean having to spend more time at work and the cycle repeats itself..."

According to the landmark forum, hese 'stories' run through our mind all the time, sometimes conscious, sometimes not. And these 'stories' are often what leads to vicious cycles happening in our life. Indeed, I am aware of how they worry me even before anything happens, as I expect things to happen. Talk about the power of attraction.

I understood these stories are not 'healthy' and that they sap a lot of energy off me. Having these 'stories' within me all the time also meant I am prone to living life wearing a certain type of 'glasses' all the time (another Landmark Forum lingo). And as we create more 'stories' in our lives, we start wearing more and more layers of 'glasses'  which will eventually cripple our ability to see something in itself, as how it is. In short, the 'stories' in our mind do not allow us to see and experience the truth.

Are all 'stories' bad then?

Probably not. There are some stories which motivate me to continue to be the person I want to be, and possibly represent particular defining aspects of me (for instance, i will always be a punctual person by keeping the story), as long as I do not use that to judge another person (I do not think I see my friend who runs late sometimes as a tardy person). Double standards probably, but that is consistent with how I will always hold myself to a higher standard.

There are some stories too which allow me to feel safe if I hold on to them. That probably is the main reason why people are reluctant to let go of their stories? They provide a ritualistic function in their lives (eg. I will strive to be in bed by 10pm every night) and structures make us feel we are functioning well. Basically too, our 'stories' allow us to sieve out and allow us to expend our energy and time on what matters to us.

Yet perhaps I am also encumbered by some 'stories' i believe. Like how I believe (very strongly) that I am okay even if I will never marry. Though I really do feel fine and happy being single, perhaps at the back of mind, I do not allow myself to be exposed to, or responds freely and positively to  windows of opportunities because I am already quite 'set' in the story I have created for myself, thereby depriving myself of other possibilities in my life?

How then should I respond to my many 'stories'? Should I start sieving out those that are 'unhealthy' and let go of them. I find that difficult. Even though I always thought I am not attached to these 'stories', I think unconsciously I am extremely attached to them. Perhaps then, it is easier if I 'replace' these stories with more positive ones? Somewhat like cognitive reframing. But will that feel fake or would it be a case of 'fake it until it becomes real' sort of thing?

I think i still do not have any answers.