Getting Out of My Sad Stories
Last night I dreamt that I was in the house of a former colleague who had committed suicide a few years ago. There were a number of people in the living room so I started engaging them in series of sad stories about my life of the bad things that people had done to me hoping that they might be able to do something about them.
As soon as I woke up I was so happy that today was a holiday in Malaysia, one of the many great ones, Federal Territory Day, because it has given me time to do some transformation work on this important issue. The worst part of the dream to me was being in the house of the person who committed suicide because it told me that as long as I was in the pattern of being stuck in my sad story it was like committing psychological suicide. Yikes!!!
How do I get to my positive self that relates positively to others, that creates intimacy and is mostly up all the time? The dream tells me that by dwelling on the negative things that have occurred, hoping that by telling the story to others that something will be done to the perpetrators is like committing inner suicide. In the dream itself I was enjoying the audience. I wanted others to hear my story, but when I thought about whose house (whose self) I was in, I knew I was holding onto a pattern that was going nowhere. I was stuck in my own never ending story that was only damaging to me.
How do I stay stuck? If you have ever been to war, suffered abuse, been taken advantage of economically, or had a life threatening disease, then you have a good story that qualifies for being in perpetual grief. It is a why me story. It is how we become whiners. The stories are not without their share of pain and hurt. Mine have to do with being fired three times under unjust circumstances which included a lot of bad treatment leading up to being released.
I now get fearful that when criticism starts coming my way for even the smallest things, that the end is nigh. That is when I get into my psychologically suicidal self trying to get a listening ear who might do something to the meanies. The more I tell the story the worse my mind gets. What happens is that I keep remembering the injustice, and then it keeps increasing in size. As it increases so too does the fear. Then I believe that I have to go against the current folks who have some kind of injustice routine going on. It is definitely a suicidal pattern.
What is the way out? One thing that I know from working with a lot of people is that denial or shoving the story completely under the carpet is actually worse that repeating the sad story over and over. The firings happened. Bad things occur. It is not helpful to just try to completely forget about them. It is when I stay stuck in the sad story hoping that someone else will do something about it, that the really negative things begin to happen. The work is to let the story go, but not to wipe it away from history by having memory loss. Letting the story go means that I can remember that what happened to me actually happened. Holding onto the story perpetually repeating it in hopes that things will change only increases the fear of it happening again. Where there is a lot of fear, the fear tends to happen.
Injustice is a condition of the world right now. There are lots of jealous leaders who are threatened by competence. So it is quite natural that when you do really positive work, that attacks are going to come. When there is more justice and equality, then less attacks of jealous power seeking will happen. Now they happen. It is part of my sad story that I was only ever released from a job when I was getting great results.
Letting the story go is the ability to recognize the loss and the negative but still fully participate in the positive action forward. We recognize that the disparity between the rich and the poor in even Western countries has grown in the past few decades, but we don’t sit around and just whine about it hoping that Obama will fix it for us or that someone will send the corrupt CEOs to prison. That is how I commit psychological suicide. Letting go of the story just means that you recognize the negative and then become a positive player rather than a negative whiner.
Most veterans in war try to bury their memories when they return home, but burying just keeps the conditions for war more present. When you recognize the negative aspects of war because you have seen the horrors, then you can become positively involved in those aspects of life that create peace. Burying the memories takes you out of the positive processes that you could be involved in to have a better world. On the other hand retelling the sad story with the hope that someone else will do something just makes you more fearful.
The idea is to let go of the story or the bad thing that happen and then stay involved in what will make the general conditions that cause the bad things to improve. Stay positive and keep participating in the game despite the negative things that happen from time to time. Hoping for someone else to make the changes pulls you out of the active processes that make change possible. You shouldn’t hope for a brilliant leader. We can all become brilliant leaders and take positive action to make the world better.
The purpose of the bad things happening in most cases is so that we can recognize that we all need to stay involved in the larger issues that face the world. We are all players in the earth’s evolution toward a more peaceful and inclusive world culture. This helps us to let go of our own minor story and regard it more like a scratch rather than an amputation.
When Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 26 years, he didn’t sit and whine and go for revenge or hope that someone would do something about the injustices. He just went forward, practiced forgiveness and made positive changes. When the eldest son of the founder of the Baha’i Faith, Abdu’l Baha, was released from captivity after nearly 40 years, he immediately set sail on epic voyages to Europe and America that lasted for several years to promote universal peace and the oneness of mankind.
We could all hold onto our story and wallow. We all have them. The better option is to get involved in the game.
“I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life, Thou art more friend to me then I am to myself.” This is so true. Life has t joys and sorrows, I think dwelling on the joys outweighs the sorrows, no matter how sorrowful they are. Looked at another way – from a Baha’i view – do we want our soul to grow and develop or remain small and undeveloped? I think we would all agree that it is better to work on the deveopment of the soul here so we have more time to serve in the next life.