Breaking Up With My Motorcycle
Last week we talked about the fact that we all have stories we tell ourselves that actually hold us back from making helpful choices. This week I want to talk about one type of story that we often get stuck in. This story is about making everything personal. Thinking that everything is about ME.
For example, if someone says something mean, I think “they hate me” or “I must have done something wrong” or “how dare they do that to me”.
We’re constantly doing this in life. Every time something happens that doesn’t feel great, our mind is immediately working away to try to understand why we’re feeling this way. And, as we learned - our brain gets programmed to do this when we are really young and don’t have access to logic, so this part of our brain has a really hard time seeing the bigger picture.
My relationship with my motorcycle is a fascinating example of how we make things so personal…
Lets start at the beginning. I LOVE riding motorcycles. The feeling of the wind in my hair and the sun in my face is sheer ecstasy to me. I got my first motorcycle when I was 21, and for me it represented all the things I longed for. Adventure…Freedom…Independence.
And now many years later, I have only ever owned bikes…no cars. Riding has become a part of my identity, how I see myself. I have come to think of my motorcycle as being a part of me.
A few months ago I was moving away from Australia and that meant I needed to sell my bike. But it didn’t feel like selling a piece of machinery, a bunch of metal and rubber and chrome (and rust!) It felt like I was losing a part of MYSELF.
Why is this? Because my mind had made it personal. Because of our survival instinct, our minds are always finding ways to latch onto things and ideas and concepts to make them solid so that we feel more safe.
So when I felt sad about leaving, my mind created this whole story trying to explain that sadness. And because of my experience with my mom leaving when I was a teenager, I have a story about what “leaving” means. Someone who leaves is abandoning. Someone who leaves is being insensitive. Someone who leaves has done something wrong or bad or cruel. So because of this early life brain pattern, when I leave something or someone I feel a sense of guilt, like I am abandoning my my own child or someone who I have a close relationship with.
So in this situation literally felt like I was breaking up with my motorcycle.
Common everyday occurrences like selling a vehicle can trigger our deeply ingrained brain patterns. We think we’re just going about our day doing our thing, but actually we’re acting out a whole story from our past that has nothing to do with what is actually happening in the here and now. We’re making it about US. We’re making it personal.
Think of how this relates to our everyday experiences. If a friend walks past us without saying Hi, what story are we telling ourselves about this experience? Do we interpret this as meaning we’re not important? That they don’t like us? That they are mean?
How does this story we tell ourselves relate to other things we have experienced? Usually if we ask these questions, we can find a common theme to our stories. A pattern of how we interpret our reality that relates to situations we have found ourselves in before that keep us stuck with one overall perspective of how we see ourselves and the world.
Reality is usually far different from the stories are minds our telling us. For instance, our friend may have simply not seen us, or was distracted, or was worried that WE don’t like HER, or someone had just yelled at her and she was about to burst into tears so was desperately focused on getting to the bathroom to hide.
The truth is, nothing anyone else does is actually about us. Everyone is caught up in their own life, their own drama, their own story.
Think of the freedom that occurs when we can just NOTICE something without making it personal. Not blaming ourselves for what other people are doing or thinking or feeling.
Think of a leaf floating off a tree. We could look at it and say “It’s so sad! It’s falling and it can’t get up! It’s life is over! How will it cope!!” Or we could just say “Oh, it’s a leaf falling.”
We have the ability to do that with ALL of our experiences. Once we start seeing our stories, we can actually decide if we want to buy into them or if we can just let ourselves experience what is happening and then allow it to pass without turning it into a whole saga that becomes part of our identity. Instead of saying “She doesn’t like me, I’m a loser” we could just tell the truth…”My friend walked past and didn’t say Hi.”
When we don’t make everything about US, all of a sudden what other people do or say doesn’t really matter as much. We are free to focus on what we really want and how we really want to live. That’s true power. The power to CHOOSE who we want to be rather than letting other people’s actions dictate how we feel about ourselves.
To watch the emotional drama of me abandoning my motorcycle, check out my Youtube episode here :)