Turn Your Mind Towards Peace – Absolutely Let Go of Storytelling

Use Your Mind for Daily Peace

This one habit can easily disrupt your ability to experience daily peace.

 

It’s telling stories!

 

I originally hesitated writing this post, because the truth is: I love story-telling.  I believe it is an art form.  However, I changed my mind about writing this post after I thought about just how many times I have witnessed various types of story-telling stealing everyday peace from people I love.  Let me 1st say – there are places where storytelling is an absolute necessity and even best practice. What I am talking about in this post is how you have the opportunity to can speak fewer of the story-telling types listed below – and experience more daily peace in your life as a result.

Stories are the windows to our patterns of thinking. On a contextual level stories tell of the road we have traveled, the strategies we have used and the also the explanations and even perhaps dare-we-say excuses we have used to explain what brings us into the present moment.  Deeper still on a frameworks level they also tell of our filters and how we organize our thoughts.  On a body level – a story can also tell about the degree to which we can feel things fully.  When you take the time to expand your awareness of how, when and for what purpose you tell your stories – there can be a whole realm of personal leadership development opportunities open up.”

After 16 years as a coach, and also remembering back to those times in my life where I spent a remarkable amount of time telling stories of different sorts,  I have come to believe that every person has a choice or an opportunity to limit their story-telling. For example;  telling stories in specific & purpose-filled contexts and as a result experience more peace in daily life.

How telling a story can distract you from feeling peaceful

When you tell a story, you anchor your awareness in what has already occurred (The past). This anchoring will keep you out of the present moment – and separates you from your presence.  This act of separation steals away your full capacity to experience daily peace.  When you maintain your personal presence, you connect with the truth more, and you get to have the experience that nothing is missing – and that is a very peaceful experience.

“In my 20’s it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend 2 or more hours nightly on phone calls –  storytelling”.

Examples of the types of storytelling that can separate you from the present moment:

  • Expressing your sympathy for yourself. (woe).  When you tell stories of woe, you are maintaining a state of unresourcefulness. It would be so much better to reorient yourself to the now, assess this real moment and then start looking for opportunities to make things better.  Avoid getting stuck in the past and instead, express compassion for yourself at the moment.
  • Gossip. (talking about anyone when they are not right there in the conversation).  Storytelling about others may be entertaining, but it doesn’t bring much momentum or peace to your life – and often gossip can cause additional headaches down the road.  Just avoiding this one habit could make a dramatic difference in your experience of daily peace.
  • Mind Reading.  Telling a story to yourself about what someone else is thinking.  This act of imagination diverts you from finding out the truth and keeps you from feeling peaceful.  Now you might believe that you know the truth, but it is just an interpretation.  I have known more than a few people who thought they knew what their cat was thinking.  Instead, get curious and ask those who can respond.  If they can’t answer – you can’t know what they are thinking.
  • Expressing disappointment in someone or something.  When you are disappointed, you have previously set up an expectation. When that expectation fails to come to fruition, you get disappointed.  That act of concretizing just one idea of 1 possible future sets you up for that peace-sucking disappointment because the reality is often not (or never) the same as the imagination.
  • Giving voice to your regrets.  Regret, a somewhat ‘unnecessary’ emotion pulls us out of the present moment as we tell ourselves about our disappointment or sadness  – it’s one of those things that doesn’t exist in time and space – it’s just the story we create about it. Regret-proof your life.  You will experience more peace when you make resourceful choices from the present moment instead of trying to do it retroactively.
  • Sharing judgments (negative or positive).  Drawing conclusions as a process in decision making is valuable  – drawing conclusions for pure entertainment value is less so and can take away from your experience of peacefulness.
  • Being critical   (something is too [blank] )  To criticize something – you have to remove yourself from connection with that thing.  That act of separating pulls you out of presence and disrupts your ability to access the calm that oneness brings.
  • Making comparisons  (something is better than or worse than)  Similar to being critical, to make a comparison you must step back far enough to do it.  That act of stepping back takes you further away from the core that is peace.
  • Standing back and complaining about something (or someone).  Complaining – is anger or frustration put into words.  Those two emotions are very disruptive to feeling peaceful.  Peace happens when you can feel the emotion, and the story falls away, and you can be in equanimity around it.
  • Whining.  Well, that’s complaining kicked up a notch with the feeling not as close to the surface of awareness.
  • Blaming others for circumstances or blaming self for outcomes.   To blame someone, you have to reject your sense of responsibility.   Responsibility is one of those behaviors when embraced, can bring you a greater sense of peace.
  • Recounting events. Sometimes it can be more peaceful just to say nothing and listen deeply rather than trying to fill dead air.

 

How to identify if you have been caught in a pattern of telling stories:

Think of a particular story you are telling, replay it in your mind and then ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1.     Am I attached to seeing it THIS way?
  2.     Why is it of value for me to see it THIS way?
  3.     Is there a difference ‘energetically between this story and the actual event?

What do you notice with your subtle senses?  Do you feel an emotional charge?   

If the answer is yes, chances are – you’ve been caught in a place of separation and have taken yourself away from daily peace.

 

Here is how to turn that around from a personal leadership development perspective.

If you rely on one 1 or more forms of the above examples of storytelling, perhaps pick one to focus on as part of a self-leadership development plan for yourself and see if you can experience more peace by consciously altering your behavior.

What to Practice:

Spend as much time as you can in the present moment. If you find yourself repeating stories often as part of your conversations, that is a clear demonstration that you are not in the present moment.

  1.     Practice expressing in a way that does not make a comparison or a judgment
  2.     Practice only speaking from your experience – and do so kindly
  3.     Practice resourceful behaviors that will bring you more presence.

How you know you have transcended the story-telling habit?

You can easily see the perfection in everything  – and you feel as you are fully present. As a result, your self-expression will be more present based, compassionate and authentic.

We don’t often stop and take a beat to consider the ways we disrupt our sense of peace.  Story-telling is one of those habits that can slip under the radar very easily.  Fortunately, by increasing our awareness of our self-expression, we can lead ourselves better and set ourselves up to experience more everyday peace.

Which storytelling example do you think causes the most problems?

 

Distraction Demystified – Interrupting Our Flow

Distractions

Distractions Interrupt Our Flow

Distractions Interrupt. When we are in flow, we are natural, open and responsive.

When we are driven to accomplish, we are just the opposite.

We can be great at “doing”, and miss the elements of being that put us in a place of flow. We can also be great at “being” and still not be effective in “doing”.

“Doing” matters because while being masterful personal leadership has a lot to do with being; it’s equally about doing.  You want to be effective in what you do too.

There is a catch.  There are reasons why people don’t do effectively and being distracted one of them.

You might welcome distraction or be irked by it.  Your reaction may depend on whether your are in a perspective of ‘doing’ or ‘being’.

 Someone who is driven to accomplish – may be upset by a distraction.  Someone who is just being – may be happily pulled along in time by the distraction after lovely distraction.

Let me demystify a few things about distraction:

  • Distractions can be self-sabotage that come from outside of our awareness.
  • Getting caught in the grip of a distraction can be a result of reduced awareness or focus.
  • You can be distracted as a way to avoid feeling uncomfortable.
  • It can also be a conscious choice as an attempt to gain pleasure from something that has a secondary gain.

Shiny objects cause distractions too.  It’s human nature to look for the good in things or products. It’s problematic when searching for the good, gets in the way of you doing your great work.

The insidious nature of distraction calls us to choose consciously to be distraction-free.  It will sometimes take a firm resolve to overcome the vacuum-like pull of the distraction.

A recent study published in Current Biology suggests that subtle distractions impede our progress towards our goals in a great way. In this study with 95 volunteers, researchers found that subtle distractors change what we are doing more than obvious ones with respect to goal-oriented behaviour.

Counterintuitively, they discovered the disruptions on attention and goal oriented actions were greater with slight distractions.  Larger distractions such as a ringing phone caused fewer distractions than the subtle distractions such as something blinking on our computer screen.

What does this mean?

We underestimate the impact of subtle distractions on our day.    Just have an atrocious day and notice if you search out a distraction of some sort.

We all know about the typical distractions of email checking, of endless meetings and the time it takes to deliver on our responsibilities and commitments. But how much time do we spend thinking about more subtle distractions that we pick up with our senses? (The flutter of a light bulb, a text, or the small, subtle noises in our offices)

Does it matter that something is preventing us from giving our full attention to something else?

I think so.

I believe when we get caught up in distractions it agitates and ruffles our mind-body state.  When we are agitated, it is challenging to remain open and flexible. That then in impedes our ability to be in the flow.  I believe that when we begin with calmness, and then work from there we can be at our most present, productive and engaged.

Even what we call multitasking takes away from the co-creative nature of being 100% percent present with what we’re doing.  It’s distraction as a practice.  Although, for most people, they would probably choose to be less distracted.

ways to avoid distraction

7 Ways to move beyond distraction and get back into the flow:

1.  Know what you want in specific terms and create an inspiring reminder.

The clearer you are about what it is you want versus what it is you don’t want, the more aligned you will be with your intentions. When you can paint a bright and clear picture of what it is you want, and you continually remind yourself of that high purpose, the quicker you can get back on the path if you are distracted.

A qualifying kicker question you can ask, “Is it (this distracting activity) bringing me closer to what I want or away from what I want?” Often the distractions will be things that take you further away from your goal.

2. Consciously take a holiday from distractions.

One of the best ways to change a pattern is to denounce it. Adopt a firm stance against distractions before they happen.  Having a plan in place before distractions attempt to creep, and it won’t just slide by you. You’ve put yourself in a place of choice of not following the pattern.

3. Schedule high-focus time in your calendar. 

It’s a lot easier to guard yourself against t distractions if you limit the time that you need to be on guard. By giving yourself permission to work without distraction for a few hours you build the muscle to enjoy working distraction-free. Over time, you can stretch that out to longer and longer durations.

Try a 50-20-50 working pattern.  Work for 50minutes, switch up to an alternate restorative focus for 20 and then go back to another 50minute high focus session. Setting a rule in advance about no distractions is going to give you at minimum 2 hours of highly productive and efficient time.

4.Be as present as you can.

When we are outside of the present moments often were doing things like worrying about the future or replaying the past. The past invites more stories of the past, and the future, it invites concern and anxiousness.

You have you ever just sat down to watch TV because you wanted to unplug from the stresses of the day? Take a moment to think about if you’re attempting to distract yourself from what is.

5.Be mindful of your inner self-talk.

Our internal self-talk is one of those less obvious places where we allow ourselves to be distracted. The talk, it’s there all the time, so it’s less likely to jump out at us as a distraction. But things like judging or criticizing others (or yourself), comparing you to others, ruminating about the future, having unrealistic expectations – all distract us.

Learning to how to calm your mind and not getting caught up in the meaning of these kinds of thoughts is the best way to lessen these types of distractions.

6.Bring awareness to your feelings and emotions.

Fear and the emotions relating to fear our some of the biggest distractors there are.  Underneath the fear there is an energy in our body, and when we resist all there is to feel there we actively separate ourselves from being present to all that pure focus has to offer.

If you find that you consciously want to do more of the distracting behaviour, it may even be some emotional energy is distracting you.  Do a little self-check-in by asking yourself, “Am I experiencing emotional pain?”.

Staying with your emotions rather than heading off towards a distraction is what is required.

You may recognize things like:

  • desiring to perfect things
  • desiring to perfect situations
  • avoiding tasks or delaying
  • engaging in addictive behaviour

If you notice any of those things, stop and bring yourself present to your emotions, for those are distractors from the momentum of flowing along the path from A to B.

7.Engage your Courage.

One of the ways we can get caught up in distractions is that we are consciously or unconsciously avoiding something. We might be avoiding a social situation, or a feeling, or a negative imagining of the future. When were able to engage our courage and take forward momentum even in the face of fears or limiting beliefs it keeps us moving forward and in the flow.

All seven of the above ideas relate directly to being more present with yourself in mind body and spirit.  If your desire is to be more focused and less distracted, the most direct route is to master your connection with your personal presence as part of a personal leadership development plan.

When we are in full presence, we are in the flow, and we can better enjoy the ease, grace and enjoyable experience of life and make the best use of our time rather than time using us.