Your life is a complex tapestry of various stories, some wanted, and many unwanted. The most effective way to change this tapestry of stories is to practice non-attachment, in order to free yourself of the threads of your unwanted stories.
By altering this tapestry, you can directly alter the reality you live in your everyday life. You have control of the loom. But, you must stop taking these stories so personally. I'll show you exactly how to practice non-attachment in this post.
Your Life Is Made of Stories
“Reality” is not as real as you might think. It is comprised of a series of interpretations, or of stories about what is, or what seems to be. These are commonly called limiting beliefs, though not all of them are necessarily limiting.
For example, you might think, “I'm not successful because I'm not making enough money.” The only fact in this statement is merely implied, and that is the amount of money you are indeed making. But the idea of not being successful, and of not making enough money, are both stories that you have put upon yourself.
You Might Not Even Realize Your Stories
You might not even realize the stories that you're telling. When you've been telling these stories for so long, it can seem like fact.
When you start to realize that these stories are really just your own interpretations of reality, however, that is when real freedom begins. When you know that something is just a story, you have the power to change that story.
For example, the story above of “I'm not successful because I'm not making enough money” contains stories about what success means, and how much money is “enough” money. As long as you believe these stories, you will be entrapped by them. But as soon as you realize that you've added the meaning that these stories hold for you, you are instantly freed to change them.
An Example from My Own Life
Growing up, I was inculcated with the idea that the only way to success was to graduate from college, and then to get a well-paying job. Money was of the utmost importance, and the only way to get money was by having a college degree. My self-worth was defined by how well I did in school.
Well, imagine the resistance that was triggered when I decided I would drop out of college. I had had a long struggle with college, lasting a total of five years. Finally, I decided that the only sane way to go was to drop out.
But I was taught all my life that I had to graduate—that this was the only way to success. So, I dealt with guilt and fear for quite a while after making this decision. Trying to get up the courage to tell my mother was all the harder, since she was the one to teach me these things.
Of course, I did eventually tell her, and it went well. I dropped out, and couldn't be happier.
But even after that, my in-laws often tried to get me to go back to college. Sometimes I wondered if I was a failure for not finishing.
It took me several years to make peace with that. Eventually, thanks to some methods such as The Work of Byron Katie, I discovered that these were just stories, and my belief in them was optional. I could change them, if I wanted to.
You've Built Up Your Stories Since Childhood
Your stories have been gradually building up since childhood. They come from the things your parents teach you, the events you observe around you, and in general your interactions with others.
With the money example above, you might have observed, or been told, that success is when you make $50,000 a year. Now, you constantly measure your attainment of that standard set at childhood, and judge yourself accordingly. If you are making less than that, then you're not successful.
And of course, there's the additional judgment that success is a good thing, and not having it yet is bad, or even wrong. Usually these stories expand out exponentially, adding judgment after judgment on top of one another.
How Stories Block Manifestation
The issue is that your stories keep you from manifesting your goals, or at least limit the ways that your goals can come to you. When you believe in your stories, you are defining what reality can or cannot do. And, reality will conform to your definitions.
If you know that you aren't successful because you're not making enough money, then you won't be successful. You won't reach that limit of “enough money”, or if you do, you'll constantly be in fear of losing it. You will always define your level of success by that story, and so it will dictate what is possible in your reality. Success is not possible, or is very hard, because you are so fearful of not attaining it.
Stories Don't Have to Block Manifestation
However, this is not required. Your stories don't have to define your reality. It is possible that you can hold this story in your subconscious mind, and yet still manifest success.
Your subconscious mind doesn't define you, or at least it doesn't have to. The issue is that most people allow their subconscious mind to define them. They allow that story to be their prison, and though they hold the key, they will not use it to free themselves.
So why is your story limiting you then, assuming that it is? You are giving your story what it needs to be realized in your outer reality. Though you weave your own tapestry, you still continue to use the thread of that story, not realizing that you have a choice to create a new tapestry altogether, excluding that story's thread. It is when you practice non-attachment, as I will discuss below, that you gain freedom from that story.
Are You Stuck in the Dream?
You can see this reality as a dream, or as a game. Most people are totally engrossed in the dream. They don't realize that they are dreaming, and so the dream defines them. They really have no free will, or very little at least, to control the dream to play out how they want it to.
Being a creator is really all about becoming lucid in the dream. Have you ever had a lucid dream? You might be in the middle of the most awful nightmare, but suddenly, you realize that you're dreaming, and the monster, or bad guy, or whatever it is that was scaring you, just seems so fake now. You gain control, and so the dream totally turns around.
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There's a story in the Advaita tradition of a rope being mistaken as a snake. As long as you believe it is a snake, you are terrified of it. You might even convince a lot of other people that it's a snake, and scare them, too. But the moment you see that it is really just a rope, you've lost your ability to fear it. It was just an illusion—a dream. You've mastered that dream.
The Key to Lucidity: You Must Practice Non-Attachment
When you practice non-attachment, you hold the key to your own freedom. Non-attachment allows you to stop believing in the story.
The thing that really holds you bound is believing in the story. As long as you believe in it, you are bound by it, just like how as long as you believed the rope was a snake, you were bound to be afraid of it.
But when you practice non-attachment, you are shown the truth of things. You realize the illusory nature of your fears. They become as unreal as the monsters in your nightmare. When you stop allowing them to scare you, and turn around to face them, they are no longer so real.
You Are Taking it Too Personally
It's all about the ego. The ego wants to make everything about itself. So when you don't make as much as you'd like to make, your ego says, “This means that I'm not successful.” It identifies with the story, and adds meaning to it.
When you identify with the story, you make it “your” story. You make it all about you. And if it is about you, then it must mean something, right? When I dropped out of college for example, it was “my” story that I was a failure for dropping out. Only when I stopped taking that experience personally—when I stopped making it about me—was I able to gain freedom from it.
But when you practice non-attachment, you separate yourself from the story. In Saturday's podcast about how to overcome limiting beliefs, I read a quote from the Tao Te Ching. In essence, it says that it is emptiness, or stillness, that makes everything work together. When you are in stillness—in the zero state—you have non-attachment to your stories. You are freed of them.
How to Practice Non-Attachment
One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself to practice non-attachment is, “Is that true?” This question comes from The Work of Byron Katie, particularly from her book, Loving What Is.
This question is so powerful because it delves right to the root of the issue: your story, at its core, is just a story. It has no truthfulness to it. This question invites you to meditate on whether the story you have believed so much is actually true or not.
Entering the zero state will also help you to naturally practice non-attachment, because when you are in that stillness, you cannot hang on to your stories. You get a degree of separation from them, and can see that you are adding your own meaning to life.
Finally, work on separating fact from meaning that you have added. Fact is something like, “I currently make $35,000 per year.” Meaning is, “I don't make enough to be successful.” A good clarifying question might be something like, “Is this true for every person on the Earth?” Or, “According to whom is this true?” These are just restatements of the general “Is it true?” that I discussed above. Use what works best for you.
Then, Create Your Own Stories
After you've developed non-attachment to the stories that are holding you from your manifestation, feel free to create your own stories. Just as in the lucid dream, once you become lucid, you don't just use it to see through the illusion of the dream. You then go and create an entirely new dream that is more aligned with what you want to experience.
You create stories by setting new goals for yourself. If in your reality your current story is that you are not successful, first free yourself from this story, then ask yourself how you can become successful.
Or, more concretely, ask yourself how much money you'd like to make. Don't even involve the word “success” in it, unless it inspires you. But, “success” on its own is a word of judgment, naming some things as successful and other things as not successful.
If you look at your life and don't like what you see, feel free to weave your tapestry with new and better stories. You have that power. But in order to do so, you must first free yourself of the old stories that have held you bound. You cannot define the new in terms of what you didn't like about the old. It has to be an entirely new creation.
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Set Concrete Goals, and Go After Them
Your goals should be concrete, because they are a lot more inspiring than vague, general goals. A goal of “be successful” is very general, and you might constantly move the goalpost of that goal further and further as you approach it, almost fearing to cross that line.
But a goal of “I choose to make $50,000 per year,” or “I choose to be in a healthy, long-term relationship”, or “I choose to get a job in the field I want, with the pay I want,” is far more inspiring, and you know for sure when you've arrived.
And the great thing is that as you approach these goals, it will trigger the stories that are holding you back. Then, you have the opportunity to practice non-attachment and free yourself of those stories, enabling you to pursue your goals all the more.
Creating Your Life How You Want It to Be
As you do this, you create your life how you want it to be. You have one foot in the dream, and one foot on the outside, holding the controls. You fully experience the dream, while yet realizing that you can change it at any moment.
This, to me, is complete freedom. You have detached from your old stories, and chosen deliberately what you wanted to create instead. You maintain the lucidity at all times to know when a story has arisen, and you know how to see through that story.
You might be more lucid at some times than others, but that is okay. This is a process. You will grow in your ability to maintain non-attachment to your stories as you develop. There's no rush.
But what matters is that you have that freedom. You hold the keys, and you know how to use them to free yourself, and create what you want.
How About You?
Now it's your turn. What stories are currently holding you back from your manifestations? Are you finding that non-attachment is allowing you to free yourself from those stories? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.