Generally speaking, when it comes to the concept of "designing your life", I think a lot of people tend to get overwhelmed with details. We have a tendency to look at the all the miniscule tasks that need to be done, and the many small triggers that have presented themselves over however-many-decades we've been alive... and simply start to flounder.
We look at our hunger for control [and freak out when we realize we don't actually have any]. We spend ridiculous amounts of time focusing on previous experiences that seemingly haven't served us. We spend oodles of money trying to justify our worth, or to simply fill the perceived gaps in our lives. We get lost in the rat race of competition with self, and competition with others.
Personally: I see some value in some of these aspects... to a point. But there's also a time and a place when we need to consciously interrupt these thoughts, and recognize that we do - in fact - have the pen, and are in far more control than we give ourselves credit for - especially when it comes to our desire to create a life that feels in alignment with who we are, and what we're about...
As Abraham Hicks often says: "A belief is only a thought [we] keep thinking", so when it comes to designing your life, perhaps it's time to pause on the historical details, and start looking forward at what thoughts we actually want to have create a life and our reality? Further still: perhaps we can figure out methods of designing your life that actually feel [and, by default are]: interesting, creative, fun, meaningful, and - dare I say it - effective?
I've mentioned in previous blog posts about how our lives, and our attitudes about our lives are often rooted in the experiences that we had in our first five years of existence. We all have trauma in our past, but it's how we handle the obstacles of life that determines who will be affected. If you were prey as a child then your response to danger may very well become an adult where stressors are concerned; if on the other hand there was violence or physical abuse - which is common among children without protective parents- this too can lead into adulthood with unhealthy coping mechanisms emerging later down road.
In other words: it's as if the trauma has become the director of your life design, and you've somehow adopted the role as executive director... which doesn't make sense. Each and every one of us has far more control in our lives than we often give ourselves credit for... we've simply forgotten that we have the pen. You, dear reader, have all the power in the world to rewrite your life design. Sometimes we just need to remember how.
And that's what I want to talk about today.
Designing Your Life Step One: Addressing Overwhelm
We've all been there - for some of us: it's first thing in the morning, for others: it's late at night. But when those intrusive thoughts start entering into our subconscious and conscious, it's hard to break free from the hamster wheel of negativity, fear or stress.
ESPECIALLY if we insist - as many of us do - on keeping it all inside. Diaries were made for teenagers, right? And goodness knows: we shouldn't share our overwhelm with others... what will they think?!
One of the key tools that I use with every single Empowerment through Songwriting client of mine isn't exactly journaling... but it does serve to interrupt that hamster wheel. It's not the most romantic of exercises, but it's something I like to call: word vomit.
How it works is this:
- You turn on some instrumental music... can be classical, jazz, backing tracks, whatever. My preference is a rather niche style of music called wholetones: music that is made at a certain frequency to stimulate a sense of peace, focus, productivity & creativity.
- Set your timer for 5minutes. Generally speaking I don't like to go longer than 5minutes as it can become a little too difficult to retain focus for much longer than that.
- Over the 5minutes, simply write - anything and everything that comes to mind. This could be repeating the sentence "I don't know what to write" or "this is ridiculous" over and over again.... however, after a while: you'll notice other words, sentences or ideas come to mind. Write them down. Eventually: all of that overwhelm that has been blocking your spirit and taking up unwanted space in your subconscious will start to come out.
- This is important: don't judge yourself for whatever it is that you write down.
- Once your five minutes is up, take another 3 - 5minutes to look at, and analyze your writing. You'll start to notice some themes come through... what are those themes?
Designing Your Life Step Two: Address Dysfunctional Beliefs Head On
Okay, we hear the Zig Ziglar, Michael Jordan, and Sir Lawrence Olivier quotes all the time about "using your weakness and aspire to the strengths", and "if you push towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength", but, um... how? If you're not born resilient, how do we develop resiliency? Is it even possible?
My argument is that [and Berkeley can back me up here], we first need to start with changing the narrative. Let's start with one of the themes you garnered from the word vomit exercise. Let's imagine that one of the themes that came through in those 5minutes of wholetones was the theme of "feeling out of control" [hello, executive director!].
What if you took another 5 - 10 minutes to write a letter to that feeling of not being the director of the designing of your life? If that out-of-control feeling was an actual person, what would you say to him/her/them? If you were your own cheerleader, what would you want you to say to you?
Examples might be:
"I'm sick of giving you the steering wheel every day"
"The passenger seat isn't comfortable anymore"
"I want a well lived joyful life - and your map is faulty"
"I'm getting unstuck, and you're no longer helpful"
"I'm designing my life how I want to live"
"You're dysfunctional beliefs are crippling me"
"I want to follow the path of least resistance, and your advice isn't helpful".
I could go on and on... but this is an exercise for you, dear reader. What would you say to that overwhelmed, stressed, stuck part of your subconscious? How would you cognitively start to reclaim your pen [control] and emotionally break up with the trauma of your unhealed child self?
Designing Your Life Step Three: Keep It Simple, Superstar
We all have that one... two... five songs that we always turned to as teenagers when we were feeling down or out of control. Quite often, my go to artists were Pink, Alanis Morrissette, Iron Maiden, Linkin Park and Eminem. There came a point, however, when I realized that singing someone else's truth, experiences or feelings wasn't always beneficial for me, or even an accurate reflection of my state of being. [Let's be real, how many of your favorite artists sing about overcoming brain surgery and the subsequent bullying?]
I mean, yes. Of course there are a multitude of songs written about feeling like the executive director of your life design, but when it comes to truly designing your life: you need to take the time to focus on you and your truth. Your song.
And this is when we take the list of statements, reflections and themes that we identified above, and apply the KISS method. I'm pretty sure you've heard of it [no, I'm not talking about the Prince song], but that instruction almost every single English teacher gave you in high-school: Keep It Simple Stupid/Superstar.
Well, when it comes to designing your life: we also want to keep it simple... and focus on just one or two of the above themes to create very specifically focused verses and choruses for your new theme song of your life. Your anthem.
Let's look at some of those themes and statements again:
"I'm sick of giving you the steering wheel every day" and "The passenger seat isn't comfortable anymore" can be fleshed out into a chorus that actually starts to disrupt that negative thought pattern that was contributing to your overwhelm. Now we can start thinking and singing to ourselves:
I'm not giving you the steering wheel anymore
The passenger seat wasn't made for me
This journey is long, but I'm the director
The best way forward is for me to take the lead
It's like taking every single positive affirmation that you feel aligns with you, and turning it into a song that actually serves you... and because it's sung: it sticks just that little bit better.
Designing Your Life Step Four: Using Creative Affirmations to Help Yourself when it comes to Getting Unstuck
So as you start to disrupt each and every disempowering thought or idea with a song that now puts you in the director's seat of designing your life: you'll start to see that with every trauma you heal? Boom: another song. With every lesson learned [and applied]? Boom: another song. With every dysfunctional belief that gets interrupted? Boom: another song.
Eventually: every time you feel stuck, or lacking creative inspiration, or out of work life balance... you now have a whole host of songs - your songs - that you can turn to to help you get back in alignment. Assist you with getting unstuck. Creative inspiration to reclaim your role as the director of the designing your life.
Because, as Gandhi, or the Law of Attraction, suggest:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
And I'm almost positive, dear reader, that the destiny you want to design for your life is most likely one of peace, prosperity, confidence, creativity, love, positivity, and a well lived joyful life. So let's rewrite those [disempowering, stressful or triggering] chapters into songs that provide the foundation on which to build a well lived, and joyful life.
Because empowerment through songwriting isn't just for teenagers - it's for everyone who desires a healed and empowered life.
Of course, it's often easier said than done, so I'm here to help.
If you're looking for creative ideas or prompts, click here to access my songwriting prompt flashcards [which obviously work well in conjunction with that wholetones music], or click here to book a call with me to learn how I can facilitate the path forward for you when it comes to rewriting your narrative and designing your life through songwriting.
I can't wait to speak with you soon.