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Home » Blogs » Neuroscience and Relationships » A Conscious Re-Writing of Your Life Story: Three Optimal Practices, 2 of 2

A Conscious Re-Writing of Your Life Story: Three Optimal Practices, 2 of 2

The authentic wise-self and the wounded ego-self are often at odds with each other.

Some competition between them is natural, in vying over which lense, love or fear, will be the primary voice of your experience of life. It’s an ongoing aspect of personal growth and development. As discussed in Part 1, each tells your life story from very different perspectives. 
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Roughly speaking, these parts correspond with the two divisions of the body’s autonomic nervous system: the parasympathetic nervous system (learning or balanced mode) versus the sympathetic nervous system (survival or automatic defense mode). The question is which division will take charge of your mind and body in situations that trigger you?
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Who makes this “decision”? Ultimately, the simple answer of course is y-o-u. However, many if not most of your decisions are automatically made by your subconscious mind, and are therefore outside our your awareness. That means it’s hit or miss; some default-choices may be healthy, and others not. It depends on what part of you was in charge at the time the “learning” took place — wise-self or wounded ego-self. 
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These two parts relate to life and key life questions differently in that they are each driven by different emotional states of the mind and body, each of which follows different rules, or standard operating procedures, if you will.
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The latter always automatically accesses old pre-decided-thinking-strategies and follows the rules that govern your body when its survival system is in charge. In contrast, the former involves your brain in higher-thinking processes (frontal cortex), which has the option of re-thinking a situation as necessary and making new choices. For example, you may not like that your partner got upset when you came home late, however,  your physical survival is not really at stake. In other words, you always have a choice to disallow your body from unnecessarily activating its survival system and instead respond thoughtfully to a situation at hand.
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Naturally, the former requires more effort to, at minimum, remain consciously aware of your options to make new choices and disallow old reactions from taking over. Be prepared that, at first, a new response pattern will feel uncomfortable, in the same way that a new workout at the gym would at first! And that’s where developing new practices that rewrite the old patterns and eventually integrate new optimal response patterns as new realities, eventually new habits. 
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Like it or not, conscious thinking is the road less taken because the latter “feels more comfortable”; it’s much easier to give in to old pre-programmed responses as they are the paths of least resistance. That means practice, practice, practice. Three practices stand out in terms of freeing you to create an enriching life story, they are:
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1. A practice of seeing your self and life through the eyes of an observer (versus judge).
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An observer is curious to learn and gathers information like a scientist. In contrast, a judge looks through a lens that regards puts people in black and white hierarchical categories of either guilty or innocent; good or evil, deserving of punishment or reward, etc. Inherently, a judge also separates self from others, seeing self as “superior” and those judged as “inferior” beings.
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The emotion of curiosity is a powerful one. As a love-based emotion, curiosity fosters an optimal learning environment for the mind and body, and brain.
As a curious observer, you maintain a learning orientation, interested in learning about your self and life around you. Emotionally,. mentally and physically, it is healthier for the power of curiosity to shape your life. A love for learning versus fear of intimacy, pain or fear itself, for example, lead to very different behavioral responses and overall directions.
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Unlike rigid thinking and judgements which activate fear, curiosity sparks optimism and positive expectations for growth and progress. It fulfills a natural seeking — and need to learn and grow our knowledge and understanding, and learn how to optimize our happiness, optimally, to treat your life and life around you as treasures that you have the honor of experiencing. Emotions of curiosity also spark possibility thinking processes.
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In contrast, the wounded ego-self is limited to “learning” better defense strategies, methods of protection, etc., that ensure survival; this keeps your mind and body hyper-vigilant, on-guard for perceived threats. Defensive strategies always serve to separate and distance us from others. In survival mode, the body puts normal processes, such as cell regeneration, online in order to conserve energy for defense.  Of course, the body’s survival mode serves us only where physical survival is real.
2.  A practice of seeing your self and life through the eyes of a creative imagination (versus controlling limiting). 
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As a creator of your life, your imagination should be noted as the workspace or design-room from where you decide the overall direction of your life and future. Your imagination is shaped by the combination of emotion-activating words you say, thoughts you think and beliefs you hold at any given time. If you knew how powerful these are in shaping your life and who you become, you would give careful thought to these. The subconscious mind considers what you put in your imagination as literal commands, operating somewhat like a genie, thinking these are your wishes!
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The emotions that are perhaps most useful, freeing you to optimally create, are emotions of love and gratitude for yourself and life around you; hope in the possibility of an ever brighter future, and belief in yourself and life as capable of supporting you to realize your dreams for happiness, meaning, fulfillment. These key emotions foster other supportive emotions of enthusiasm, determination, confidence, flexibility, humor and playfulness, and the like, all of which free your mind to access powerful higher cortex processes, such as possibility thinking, that allow you to engage in creative processes.
Notably, a bright future necessarily creates pictures in your imagination that primarily activate love-based emotion colors.
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In contrast, toxic thinking  and limiting beliefs, etc., are rooted in fear-based emotions, and primarily set to help you avoid that the pain and discomfort of change, growth and moving out of old comfort zones. When fear-based emotions are the primary colors of your imagination, the emotions they activate, such as worry or disappointment, powerlessness or dread, can lead you to make unrealistic conclusions, such as to conclude that you must “control” certain events or other persons to prove your worth. Such conclusions are often spawned by a commonly held belief that it is possible (or desirable) for one person to control another. (If parents are honest, they would say one of the biggest mistakes they made was to think they should “control” — versus guide — their children.) This belief leads to much suffering. In truth, no one has power to control you. You always have a choice because only you can control your heart. No force or fear-based logic, regardless how sound, can open the human heart. Only love can do that.
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3. A practice of seeing your self as a conscious choice-maker at any moment (versus anxious about future or regretful about past).
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As a choice maker, the most important moment of your life is always the present moment, now. To make optimal choices, the emotions of confidence and relative calm are perhaps most essential, at minimum, to remain present in the moment. An emotional state of calm, confidence and presence allows you, at any given time and especially in triggering moments, to remain connected to inner sources of awareness and wisdom, knowledge and understanding of the past, and so on. The present moment is a space in time that is pure power.
You always have a choice to protect your happiness and keep reaching to make optimal choices, ultimately, to fulfill your own core emotion-drives to matter, to meaningfully connect in relation to life and others, and so on. You always have a choice in how you respond (i.e., emotions, thoughts, actions), for example, to let go of “waiting” for others to “make you” feel good enough, deserving, loved, loving, and so on.
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Life is a series of choices, and you always have a choice. In truth, your ability to make optimal choices at any given time is pure power. Thus, the most important moment in your life is always the present one. The choices you make in present moments create your future.
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There is no other moment in which you may actually exercise your power to take action. This is your action mojo part of you. Without your action mojo, your mind is at risk of being held hostage in the past by some fear-based emotion (i.e., regret) or compulsively worrying about the future (i.e., anxiety), or both. Safe to say, life is an eternity of present moments. Healing of past or future anxiety occurs in the present. Even you talk about the past or plan for the future, your subconscious mind and body experience this in the present moment. This explains why attempting to solve any problem “for all time” gets you stuck. Attempting to create plans to avoid certain emotions is counterproductive, and these emotions promote growth and healing.
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This is good news. It means if you really want to heal the past or break free of anxiety about the future, healing is always a breath away.  Life is to be lived one moment at a time – or risk not being lived at all.
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In sum, you are not your emotions and thoughts, or the events you’ve experienced; you are much more. You are the observer, the creator, and the choice-maker of your life. Your observations allow you to gather data that optimally inform your choices. Your imagination informs subconscious processes, a genie-subconscious mind of sorts, who you desire to become and what you want to create in your future. In turn, your choices seal the deal. They are life-shaping responses, a power that chooses the values you want to live by, and the life you want to live, keeping you on course to realize the happiness and fulfillment you yearn to create, and navigate away from thoughts, beliefs and actions that throw you off course. In truth, it is your responses to your experiences that shape who you are and become, thus, the direction of your life. To make positive change, you must own the power you have to choose, and that means to also embrace the power you have to see your life through the eyes of an ever wiser observer and creator of your thoughts and emotions.

 

A Conscious Re-Writing of Your Life Story: Three Optimal Practices, 2 of 2


Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik motivates clients to break free of anxiety, emotion reactivity, and other addictive patterns, to awaken wholehearted relating to self and other. She is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit www.drstaik.com, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik


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APA Reference
Staik, A. (2014). A Conscious Re-Writing of Your Life Story: Three Optimal Practices, 2 of 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 18, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2014/04/a-conscious-re-writing-of-your-life-story-3-optimal-practices-2-of-2/

 

Last updated: 19 Dec 2014
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