We are in a time where it’s more important than ever to reflect on what we are letting into our lives. The external world can look scary at the moment. It’s safe to say our country is in a period of transition and now that the tension over the election is showing signs of an end we realize we have elected an “anti-President”. We don’t know what that yet means. We just know that Biden won on the backs of a lot of Americans saying no to Trump, not yes to Biden. As such, we know the transition period will have some kinks that will need to be worked out. While the external world goes through it’s gyrations of change we can no longer relay on our external world to define our internal state. Instead, it’s time to make a shift.
What’s next is an internal game. It’s you, not against yourself, but rather for yourself. The impact of fear-based headlines, a contentious election and social unrest must be addressed before we can move forward as individuals and as a nation. But how do we do it, simply, efficiently and effectively?
This is how I rewrote the viciously negative script that was running through my mind during my states of manic depression and still use when I find myself caught in an old pattern of negative thinking.
Change your script. Your script is a storyline that runs your thoughts. Consider it like your brain’s programming language. Your script will always be on a spectrum from positive to negative and it’s normal for it to bounce around from time to time. However, if your script has a negative virus in the background you probably notice that almost all of your thoughts are shrouded in a veil of negativity. And they may be playing some pretty insidious games, but that’s a different post. For now, I want to show you how to root out the viruses in your script and how to rewrite them.
Change your music. One of the fastest ways I’ve found to shortcut the script in my head is to replace it with lyrics that I find myself unable to stop singing. Translation. I find a beat I can’t wait to hear drop. Or I find lyrics that remind me of the truth of who I am. If you listen to mainstream music and you go through this step you are likely to find something that can, at first, feel discouraging. Most of the music you are listening to is programmed with a hero, villain and victim story. There’s a trauma. There’s someone responsible for the trauma. There’s someone hurt by it. And now they are telling us the story. Here’s the thing…this story line is completely useless unless you want to feel more hurt in your heart. But that’s not what we’re after. So instead, we’re going to replace your music with two things; music with no lyrics and music with lyrics. We select music with no lyrics because it will stop the voice in your head in it’s tracks. Your mind can’t do these two things at once if you monitor your focus. Listen to the music and give it your full attention. If your mind wanders, it’s ok. Just bring it back to the music when you notice. Some of my favorites include Swedish House Mafia, Bassnectar and Monolink. While some of their songs mix in an occasional lyric, they are positive and helpful. I also enjoy music that tells stories. However, I want those stories to be uplifting and inspiring. I want them to eliminate the hero, villain and victim dynamic and instead focus on me stepping into my full potential. For these days, I select artists like Nahko and Medicine for the People, Trevor Hall and Mikey Pauker. If you search for conscious music on your favorite app you should find a plethora of artists in every genre available. While you may enjoy different genres of music, what’s important is what impact it’s having on your script. It will either reinforce unhelpful scripts or it will write new helpful ones.
Change your entertainment. If you take a look at your external world and you take a look at the shows you watch you’re likely to notice they have a thing or two in common. Before I became aware of the power of scripts in my life I filled my evenings with shows of drama, crime and an occasional comedy. It’s no surprising that my personal life also included a drama full of heroes, villains and victims that occasionally made me laugh, but more often left me feeling drained and powerless. I realized if I wanted my external world to change I needed to more consciously select the inputs I gave my brain and the biggest source of scripts was coming from my entertainment choices. I’ll say this…I went to the extreme and sometimes in life it’s important to ride the pendulum all the way to the other side in order to find balance, but that is not required. I chose to cut the media out of my home, completely. We only have one TV in the house and it’s not a central focal point of our family’s experience. It’s rare for us to sit down and watch a show, so when we do it comes with excitement. When we do we watch shows like Little House on the Prairie or most recently The Good Place. We are aware of the hero, villain and victim scripts when we do tune in and stop watching anything that starts to cause us to feel anxiety, fear, sadness or any other emotion we didn’t sign up for. We pick entertainment based on the emotion we want to feel and, yes, sometimes we choose to watch things that will intentionally help us express and release these emotions. The key is that we do it intentionally and in moderation. If I were to categorize my life’s genre before I would’ve said I was living in a drama and today it’s much more like a documentary. While a documentary may not have the rise and falls in the storyline and the emotion that goes with it, I find that living my life from a centered, stable place feels A LOT better than allowing myself to be taken for a ride through an emotional rollercoaster designed to sell more downloads.
Change your focus. While turning my attention away from unhelpful media and music I realized I also needed to do something with that energy and focus. After being a chronic binge watcher I found myself with entire weekends to play with and at first I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I sat. I’d literally just sit and stare at the walls. Trust me, this wasn’t easy, but I didn’t know where or what I wanted to do with my focus. Eventually I found my answer; myself. As my external world seemed to be in an all out collapse I was forced to recognize a core truth. I have no control over what happens in my external world. Yet, I have complete control over my internal world. I started reading books with the purpose of self discovery and self improvement. I recognized that the only person responsible for me reaching my full potential in this lifetime was me and it was time to remove the excuses. The Pandemic offered even more free time and less to do in the external world so I decided to double down; on me. I watched podcasts, read books, joined a Mastermind and an accountability group. I set goals, I meditated and I started exercising all as a result of focusing on simple changes I could make that would increase my energy, longevity and vitality. You may be inspired to focus on something different. Perhaps a passion project you’ve always wanted to launch or giving back to your community in a larger way. You select your focus. The key is to select something that is driving you towards the results you want. And I wanted self actualization.
There’s not a lot we are going to be able to do about what’s happening in the external world over the coming months. When it’s time for us to take action, we will…but until then we can find a way to move our lives forward into the emotional direction we want in our future. For me, that meant choosing inputs based on the joy, love, laughter, inspiration and empowerment they brought into my life. All of which, led me to finding you. So I’d say it worked. Would you?