An excerpt from “Working on Your Relationship Doesn’t Work,
A Transformational Approach to Creating Magical Relationships
By Ariel & Shya Kane
Everybody has a story. If we were to ask you where you grew up, went to school or inquire about your favorite foods you would be able to supply the answers in great detail. Your story contains the history of your life, highlighting those wonderful, positive experiences as well as all of the negative ones.
People define themselves by their stories. If you want to know what your story consists of, start to notice the labels you have about yourself. I am a — (man, New Yorker, alcoholic, good listener, mother, introvert, teacher, Catholic, blue collar worker, techy, etc).
Your story is limiting. It defines what is possible for you in your life. Once in place, a story is self-sustaining. It gathers evidence to prove itself right. For example, we once knew a lovely young woman who was quite unaware of the men who were interested in her. She had a story that she was not attractive and that no one would want to date her.
One afternoon at the local health club we were sitting in the hot tub with her when a young man came and joined us. His interest in her was obvious. He asked her name, engaged her in conversation and he had little or no attention on anyone else. A short time later, after this fellow left the pool, we commented that he seemed to be a sweet guy and it was nice that he was so attracted to her. Our friend was dumbfounded. She hadn’t noticed any of the nuances of the conversation or any of the blatant flirting, for that matter. Her story acted like a set of blinders, filtering out what was obvious to anyone else.
A computer can only extrapolate out of what it already knows, in other words out of the information that is contained in it. It cannot conceive of anything outside of its known set of information. It is the same for the human mind. It is impossible to conceive of possibilities outside the known.
We are reminded of a principle from quantum physics which states that a sub-atomic particle can exist simultaneously everywhere in the universe. A particle has infinite possibilities of existence until it is measured. Once measured, however, it is forever defined by that measurement and that is its only possibility. Human beings also have infinite possibilities for their lives. But, as with a sub-atomic particle, the moment you label yourself you restrict your potential from limitless down to the narrow label by which you have defined yourself.
Reality is a function of agreement. In other words, if enough people agree that something is true, by agreement it becomes the truth. Ultimately it may not be accurate but for the moment, by virtue of popular opinion, it is. For instance, there was a time everybody knew that the world was flat. It was the prevalent point of view and held to be the truth.
In our world today there is the point of view that we are the result of our upbringing and our experiences and that these experiences have formed who we are. This might be called a psychological point of view. From this point of view our lives are predetermined by what has happened in our pasts. In effect the story of our lives has ultimate power over us.
People will sympathize with your story. They will add agreement to it. And a really “good” story has lots of hardship and drama in it.
We would like to offer another possibility: A transformational point of view. From a transformational perspective, it is possible to notice that you have a story or an idea of who you are but you do not have to believe this idea is the truth.
What if that story actually has nothing to do with how you live your life from this moment forward? Here is what it will take. You will have to start looking to identify how much of the time that story is actually a complaint. You will need to see how your internal conversation complains about your life and justifies itself for complaining.
Here are some examples of how the conversation you listen to, and believe to be you, might sound:
I am depressed because it’s raining ~ my parents raised me wrong ~ I am upset because my boyfriend left me ~ I am no good at sports. ~ I am a mess because I came from a dysfunctional family ~ I am overwhelmed at work.
If you bring your awareness to the conversation you listen to, you will start to recognize certain patterns of thought that heretofore you believed to be true. Our definition of awareness is a non-judgmental seeing of what is. Awareness allows for recognition. Recognition leads to resolution. As you recognize thought patterns and do not make what you discover wrong or right (again awareness is a non-judgmental seeing) the recognition will allow you to not have to believe them or engage in them.
Letting go of your story will take courage, a lot of courage because the story is familiar. It is like an old friend that has been there with you forever. The story is the known. What takes the courage is to go into the unknown. You can be your own Columbus, off to discover a whole new world, but again that takes courage.
Here is an example of how it works, We have a friend, Tony, who has a terrific story. Tony was born with a severe hearing disability, 95% hearing loss in one ear and 75% in the other. He has worn hearing aids since he was an infant. Despite this condition, he was able to lead a relatively normal childhood. He attended a mainstream school, had friends, watched TV, played football and engaged in the activities you would expect from a “normal” boy. So, up until the time Tony started 6th grade, all in all, it was just an OK story, but things were about to get radically more dramatic.
One fall day, when his stepfather came to get him up for school, Tony refused to get out of bed. Even as his step-dad got irritated, Tony wouldn’t stop “goofing around”, he just lay there. It turned out that the day before, while playing a game of touch football with his pals, Tony, had collided heads with another boy. While the bump didn’t seem so important in the moment of impact, the result was that Tony didn’t get out of bed that morning because, at the tender age of eleven, he had suffered a massive stroke.
Tony had to learn everything all over again such as how to crawl, how to walk and how to talk. Before the stroke, he was right handed so he had to learn to do everything with his left. To this day Tony has spastic paralysis in his right arm. Pretty good story right? Of course there is more that happened as Tony moved through adolescence toward adulthood but you get the idea.
When we met our friend, he was defined by his story. It made him special, got him attention and was a compelling excuse for not having a great life.
When we first met Tony he was unkept, unemployed and collecting disability. He was rude and if people reacted to his manner he would say, “They are rejecting me because they are prejudiced against disabled people.” It never occurred to him that he was rejecting people first out of his own prejudice against himself.
Once Tony started to drop the labels by which he defined himself, he was able to look objectively and honestly at situations. He became more interested in other people, having friends and being productive than in perpetuating his story. Today, Tony is no longer a disabled man. He is happily married and is a successful furniture designer and craftsman. By the way, he still has that paralysis and hearing loss.
Tony used to hide behind his disabilities. With awareness, he discovered that he had something to do with how people interacted with him. Here is what he has to say about it:
“When I am resisting a conversation, my hearing loss increases, because I stop listening and I shut down my ability to understand. It is as if the words cannot go in. On the contrary, when I am receptive and I am prepared to take in what people say, suddenly my disability becomes irrelevant and even when I do not hear everything they are saying, I get their full communication.” When you are not fully engaged in your life, your history, your story becomes all important.
When you are fully present, going about your life, the story about what you can and can’t do and about your own personal history ceases to dominate your life choices.
You can either be right about your story or you can have a life.
The Kanes’ new book, “Working on Your Relationship Doesn’t Work,” and their best-selling title, “Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work”, are available at local and online bookstores, via the Kanes’ website, www.ask-inc.com , by calling toll-free (800) 431-1579 and at their seminars. Ariel and Shya are coming to Santa Monica May 21-23 to present, “The Art of Relating,” which will empower you to create intimate, exciting and profound relationships — including the one with yourself. For more information, or to register, call the Kanes directly in New Jersey at (908) 479-6034, or visit their website: www.ask-inc.com .
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