It’s funny how the simplest yet profoundly life-changing concepts can be so difficult to implement.
Perception is one of those concepts that can make or break your life. Reframe your personal history—sounds easy, right? However, we tend to stay stuck to our old stories and miss opportunities to update the narrative. And here’s the real kicker—you can change your perception in an instant.
I mean, for me, it took 45 years PLUS an instant to change my perception of my life, but I got there, and it was worth it.
If you’ve always viewed yourself as limited, lacking, and unlucky—you’ll experience life through those lenses. You’ll look for evidence to support your theory. If you choose to think of your time on Earth as a story filled with possibilities for evolution, beauty, and miracles, your life will feel more like a gift.
How do you see yourself? How do you talk about your life? Consciously reframing your personal story will change the whole vibe for the rest of your life.
There’s no one way to do a life review and subsequent reframe. You just need to dust off your fifth chakra and express your entire life out loud to a group. Then reshape your life story to have a more productive and grateful narrative.
It’s mostly easy-ish! Make a rite of passage or a ritual out of the whole exercise!
I’ll walk you through it…
I did my reframe by telling the story of my life (out loud) on my last birthday, which is funny because I’m the least sentimental person on Earth. Not to mention, my early years were often harsh, and I usually opt not to go down memory lane as an adult. As a GenXer, aka the silent generation, I’m prone to “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” type of thinking in regards to myself.
I don’t like looking at old pictures, I don’t open old letters, I don’t scrapbook, my house has very few family photos, and I never long for the “good ol’ days.”
Sayings that I like to toss out into conversations include, “Time is an illusion! The only moment that is real is the present moment!” Another favorite I love to pop off is, “When in doubt, throw it out!” I only have a few small boxes of old personal things from my childhood, 20’s, and 30’s, in my basement that I get pangs in my chest just thinking about.
You get the picture.
Despite not being a scrapbook-making kinda babe, I became fascinated with how we collectively mark occasions—how we pause, validate, and even celebrate ourselves and others.
I had the serendipitous experience of listening to old lectures by Joseph Campbell at the same time my 45th birthday was approaching. I was captivated by the idea of consciously celebrating rites of passage and the power of storytelling and ritual. When was the last time I acknowledged a rite of passage? My wedding?! That was literally one million years ago.
I was lamenting that, as a whole, we don’t do many of these kinds of community bonding rituals. I myself have been known to say things like, “holidays and birthdays are absurd, and you all need to grow up!” (I know. That was a lot of Capricorn energy right there.)
And maybe this is true—perhaps we have stripped the meaning out of the rituals we celebrate and have made everything commercial and obligatory—but I wondered if I could change that for myself and cook up a ritual of my own.
It occurred to me that my 45th birthday is more or less the halfway point of my life and could definitely qualify as a rite of passage.
Rites of passage, rituals, and storytelling are all methods to validate yourself—and validation is the key to making a change in your life. Read our blog on validation here.
To acknowledge this rite of passage and to mark the end of the first half of my life, I told my family the story of my life on my birthday. I invited my husband and kids, along with my girlfriend and her husband, to my ceremony. This was the first time in my life I actually celebrated on my actual birthday. (I was born on Christmas Eve, but growing up, I never celebrated on the actual day because, y’know Christmas.) But this year, I decided to be official about my midlife review!
Having my people witness the telling of my life story validated me and my experiences. Hearing their feedback and reactions was very sweet. It helped me give myself permission to receive this event and share myself with my community.
I’ve done hours upon hours of healing work in silent meditation for myself, but I have yet to do much around using my fifth chakra to reframe my personal history (the fifth chakra is how we communicate). So to write my life down on paper, go through old pictures and letters, and SAY my story out loud was a new way to approach my relationship with myself.
This is what your fifth chakra is all about! How you communicate outwardly also informs your inner dialogue (and vice versa). Words matter. How you speak about yourself (inwardly and outwardly) reflects your sense of self-worth.
From a psychic perspective, it’s interesting to take the time to really see and validate my entire past—all at once! We have a motto at the Boulder Psychic Institute I’ve always loved: Choose Your Thoughts, Choose Your Emotions, Choose Your Life. Could I choose how I view my past? How I feel about it—AND how I talk about it?
I made a game plan and approached the project decade by decade. I gave myself two pages for each decade in my notebook.
Here are the guiding questions and prompts I used:
It was tough, and it took me the better part of a day to go through almost FIVE decades—I felt very tender for several days after.
My childhood was often less than ideal. My parent’s divorce was extremely destabilizing. My mom struggled with anxiety and depression and would succumb to frightening outbursts of anger that could last days and involve threats of suicide. There was a good stretch of time when I was emotionally, and sometimes physically, unsafe.
I mean, it was the 80’s and 90’s back then! We didn’t even wear helmets, let alone recognize our feelings (read the word ‘feelings’ like how the older brother in The Wonder Years would have said it).
Yo. We didn’t even have FLEECE until almost the 90’s. Let that sink in. Turtlenecks and wool sweaters are to thank for an entire generation of people with subsequent sensory issues.
It was oddly validating to see, on paper, what a rollercoaster my life was until I was about 30. I won’t bore you with the details of my 20’s, but that decade was basically a barrage of broken hearts and wrong turns right up until I met my husband near the end (who was definitely one of my miracles.)
Side note: Anyone my age or older—if you see a 20-something out there in the world, no matter how absurd they may be behaving, silently send them a little blessing along the lines of “Hello. I see you. It will be ok. Also, ease up on yourself.” Oy. The self-loathing at that age!
It was interesting to see when and where my pattern of “I’m a lone wolf and totally on my own” mentality started. I see why I felt that way, but the reality was that it wasn’t totally accurate. I wasn’t alone. I had numerous miracles and privileges—I just couldn’t see them yet.
Most of my life miracles were concentrated when I was in a very volatile and vulnerable place. Looking back, it seems like a few perfectly timed “cosmic bones” were being tossed my way when things started to close in. (This made me wonder about the nature of luck or even angels—but that’s a different blog for a different day.)
My miracles included finding the nice nerdy kids in the 8th-grade band and on the cross-country team—some of whom became lifelong friends. Other miracles included having access to team sports, a school psychologist who noticed me and brought me in for consistent sessions, and church camp if you can believe it.
Friendship, sports, and the fun they brought saved me.
After putting my life down on paper, I now had to do the hard part—open those boxes lurking in the corner of my basement! DOM DOOOMM DOM DOMMMM. (Star Wars soundtrack.)
Imagine my surprise at how much joy it brought me to look through those portals into the past! Pictures of childhood friends I hadn’t thought of in years and years, old pets, prom pictures, parties from college, a check issued to me from The State of Colorado (from that one time I went to jail, and they took all my cash). It was all there.
I had dozens and dozens of old letters—I had forgotten about life before email! So many sweet handwritten notes from friends, family, and even a few love letters! I got to experience the gift of my friend’s time and attention all over again. I consider those people to be my miracles.
My resistance to all the negative memories also prevented me from remembering the good stuff.
My life wasn’t all sad and stressful; it was full of miracles all along the way. I observed that I’ve always been an artist in one way or another and that I’ve always been a storyteller. Having FUN, creating, and being with my people is what has mattered most to me. Accomplishments hold less and less value the older I get.
I counted around a dozen miracles that were sweet to recognize during my presentation to my husband, kids, and my girlfriend and her husband (who are also miracles). I shared old pictures on a wall using a projector to give the whole thing a 1977 vibe.
Since that night, I’ve had friends from the past “randomly” message me to say hello, and I’ve felt very connected to my old crew (Psst—it actually wasn’t random). Telling each other we were important gifts means a lot to me.
During dinner, we rang a bell for each miracle and for each person I wanted to send a little blessing to throughout the evening. I shed a few tears for the sad moments, but the fun of seeing all my old haircuts outweighed the heavy stuff.
I rang a bell for the first half of my life and one to welcome in the second half. It was poignant to note that the second half has the backing of all the life lessons from my first half. Life experience matters!
I also did a meditation that week with my Akashic Record Keeper (This is an interesting psychic tool I learned at the BPI to help release outdated information that’s slowing me down). In that meditation I stored the relevant, helpful information and shed the unconscious trauma responses and untrue stories I told myself along the way.
I kept the intentions for my second half of life big and general. Play, tell stories, encourage others to craft their personal histories, create, and LOVE are my second-half vibes.
I’m in a reasonably stable place in my life right now, but a few short years ago, I was having insomnia and panic attacks at work over a breakup because my abandonment response was so out of whack. This year was a sweet time for me to recognize my own rite of passage into the second half of my life, but I wish I had known the power of a life review during that breakup.
If you’d like to create a ritual to celebrate a rite of passage for yourself, I broke down my method into steps to help you get started.
Decide that you get to have a rite of passage! You don’t need to belong to a community with an organized method for this—you can just DIY this whole thing.
Use your fifth chakra. Tell a story about a specific journey you’ve been on. My journey was the entire first half of my life. Yours could be anything that involves you leaving a familiar place, having a transition time that involves testing, learning, growth, and a return or reintegration back into your current life. (I left childhood, grew up, and am now continuing to work on finding who I am on a soul level and living that out as an adult.)
Invite people! Being vulnerable around others helps bond us together. Have at least two people participate. Share your setbacks along with the miracles.
Incorporate a gesture. I used Tibetan bowls to mark poignant moments and people, but you could burn scraps of paper, get tattoos, climb a mountain, or create a piece of art or music together. Just pick a thing that you all do together to mark the moment.
Find the untrue stories. Look for the moments when you formed unproductive beliefs about yourself—are you still carrying any of those beliefs today? Are those beliefs impacting your day-to-day life and relationships?
Note the high points. Look for the people that made a difference, the gifts, and the turnarounds. You created those miracles one way or another. Some part of you sent out an S.O.S. and was open to the help the universe sent you. As you acknowledge the gifts from your past, you will be able to see the miracles you’re experiencing today.
Update your perception of yourself. Acknowledge who you are now in a positive frame. Even if you’re in a rough patch. It’s ok if you’re in a period of growing and learning—you’re not always going to be in the fun parts of your journey. Can you look at yourself as a creative miracle worker no matter what is going on around you?
Give yourself a prize for all your hard work. I got myself a fancy espresso machine because I’m a middle-aged woman—but maybe you can give yourself something meaningful and special that commemorates this rite of passage for you.
Bonus Tip. Give your guests presents and treats for coming to your ritual and witnessing you while you review your journey. I tried to keep my talk under an hour over dinner—but it went for four… he he (nervous laugh). I’m sure you can tighten your ritual up, but toss in snacks and gifts just in case.
Telling the story of my life out loud reinforced what I knew intellectually but hadn’t fully appreciated up until now—I create the story of my life. My life does not create me.
By viewing my life as full of miracles, I was able to reframe my personal history, and I now think of myself and the world in a completely different light than through my old story. My overall vibration shifts when I think of myself as lucky, abundant, and surrounded by friends and family—despite the bumps and scrapes along the way.
My old stories focused on the downer parts of my life. My mom’s instability and occasional death threats traumatized me. I had no real place to call home for several years growing up. I repeated these things frequently to myself: my friends would reject me if they knew what my family life was like, nobody would date me, I was mediocre at everything, I couldn’t figure out my career, and coming out as Bisexual was a big dumb disappointment. #nothelpful
Yes. I did experience and feel all those things at various times. That was real. But I also got a dozen (and counting!) major life miracles handed to me when I needed them the most.
Not to mention unlimited espresso drinks in the comfort of my own kitchen, thank you very much.
I hope my story inspires you to step back and look at how you’re viewing your past. Don’t be afraid to open those old boxes—I guarantee a few miracles are in there waiting for you to rediscover.
Cheers to all my fellow GenXers! Let’s create another 45 years of stories together.
Blog written by Three Brodsky, aka KING Three, staff writer, marketing maven, minister, and student mentor for the BPI.
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