Sorting through some old emails yesterday, I found a link that a friend sent to me long ago, that I probably wasn’t ready for around then. Yesterday I clicked that link and, to my delight, it was still there. Or rather, its author – horror and fantasy writer Michael Montoure – had pulled it from the depths of his archives, near the end of last year, just in time for me to rediscover it.
You can be happy. You can live the life you want to live. You can become the person you want to be.
This is what I’ve figured out so far.
The main thrust of the article? That we – very like fantasy writers, actually – can create our own realities. That we don’t have to listen to the ever-present inner demons that hold us back. That we can, in fact, choose to become the people we want to be – largely by acting like we already are.
The concept of “fake it til you make it” has always been one that resonated with me, and I’ve found that it almost always works. I believe that this phenomenon relates to the second principle of Rubenfeld Synergy: that the body, mind, emotions and spirit are dynamically interrelated. One part of the system affects all of the others, and no one of them is more powerful than the others in creating our realities. Like the smile research shows, sometimes we smile because we feel happy, but sometimes we feel happy because we smile.
In the modern, industrialized world, most people think of our minds as the top dogs. We use our big brains to make decisions, work through problems, and achieve our goals. We tend to think of our minds as “us,” and locate our consciousness, our identities, in our heads. Everything below the head is not “me” but “my body,” disconnected from identity and treated more like a possession than like a part of us.
We’re excellent pattern-matchers. That’s what the human mind does — it’s a pattern-matching engine. So we look at ourselves, at our history, at our behaviors, and we draw straight lines between the points — we assume that just because we’ve done things a certain way in the past, we’ll always do them that way in the future. If we’ve failed before, we’ll always fail.
Surprise yourself. No — amaze yourself.
It’s true that our brains are very powerful machines. But deciding that they are the totality of our identity is a mistake – especially when following those straight lines leads you straight to more failure. The truth is that sometimes it’s our bodies that are doing the driving; athletes will tell you that in moments of true physical achievement, their minds “shut off” and their bodies do what they know how to do. Sometimes our hearts – which research is showing to be more complex and powerful than we even knew – are doing the leading, drawing us toward a person, a dream, a desire, or through a process of mourning.
Try this: spread your arms wide and over your head, open your chest, throw your head back, and then say, “I’m so depressed!” Ilana used to do this with workshops all the time. See how depressed you can feel in that posture, even if you were feeling down beforehand. We can make changes in one part of the system, and cause a cascade of changes in the others.
[The demon is] the little voice in the back of your head that’s always whispering, “You can’t.” You know the demon. You may think you hate the demon, but you don’t. You love it. You let it own you. You do everything it says. Everytime there’s something you want, you consult the demon first, to see if it will say, “You can’t have that.”
You can take me literally or not, as suits you. But do, please, the next time you hear that voice in your head, imagine it, visualize it, as something physical that you can get hold of; tear it out of you, feel its fingers weaken and lose their grip on your spine, and grind it to dust, to nothing, under your boot heel on your way out to dance in the streets.
You can. You think you can’t; but it’s telling you that. You can.
There’s a bit of oversimplifying here, which he even apologizes for early on; some of the article smacks of the “Just Do It” culture that can be so damaging to people who find their histories, traumas, or environments too poisonous to easily escape by force of will. But I do love the idea that, as the name I chose for my business suggests, the power is in your hands. It may be difficult, and we may need to approach it from a different perspective than we’re used to. But – more RSM principles coming up! – we have the natural capacity for self-healing and self-regulation, and the responsibility for change ultimately rests with us.
Even more important to this discussion, though, is the principle I’ll look at next week: change happens in the present moment.
If we’re not talking about something that is real and present and in your life right now, then it doesn’t matter. Nothing can be done about it. If nothing can be done about it, then don’t spend your energy dwelling on it — you have other things to do.
This is not to say that traumas don’t need healing, that we don’t need to understand our pasts in order to move forward. Quite the contrary: we need to understand and know them well in order to move from them in a new direction. Our bodies tell the stories of our lives, but we can also shape those stories with our bodies, and with our minds, our hearts, and our souls.
We’re nothing but the stories we tell ourselves. We know in our hearts what kind of people we are, what we’re capable of, because we’ve told ourselves what kind of people we are. You’re a carefully-rehearsed list of weaknesses and strengths you’ve told yourself you have….
You owe no allegiance to that self-image if it harms you. If you don’t like the story your life has become — tell yourself a better one.
Think about the person you want to be and do what that person would do. Act the way that person would act.
Amazingly enough, once you start acting like that person, people will start treating you like that person.
And you’ll start to believe it. And then it will be true.
Welcome to your new self.