Flipping the Script
The Union Path Podcast
"Flipping the Script"
0:00:20 - John Coleman
It goes without saying that life can be hard, life is hard, life is challenging. Life throws things at us that we feel like we're neither equipped or ready to deal with all the time. Sometimes life is boring, sometimes life is stagnant. Life, of course, is a very dynamic thing and hands us things that we not only don't appreciate in the moment, but feel like could at very least spend better time. It could have dealt with us a lot better a year from now, a month from now, 10 years ago, whatever it is. But that's the thing about coming at life and that's the thing about living life on its own terms, and that, in a lot of ways, a skillful life is dealing with.
What happens is responding to what happens is finding the next best step to take, no matter what's happening, and one of the most critical times to do this, yet one of the most challenging times to do this is when we seem to be caught in a bit of a trend of bad things, when bad things keep happening to us over and over again, or we see something in our life start to be taken away. We start experiencing failure, we start losing. This may be conceptually, it may be physically. We start losing relationships, we start losing possessions, we start losing status. It can be really difficult to not just get some soon, not get sucked in to the tide going out, feeling like our life is being washed away, feeling like all of our achievements, all of our accumulation, even like a part of ourselves is being taken away from us, is being lost. So when this happens to us and if we live long enough, this will happen to us potentially several times it's important to really know well, how do we actually deal with this? How do we actually deal with the negative happening to us? How do we deal with bad things happening? Because oftentimes this isn't a skill we really like to talk about.
We love to celebrate people's successes and, of course, we support them when they're going through hard times, but we don't really pay a lot of attention to the skills required, to the approach and the perspective required to actually get through those hard times, to get through them as intact as possible, to be able to find the growth, to find the good in those challenging situations, in those dark times, to be able to return to the light as more, more wisdom, more experience, a broader perspective, allow the situations to grow and change us in a positive way, allow something positive to come out of even the most negative situations. These things are very difficult to traverse, are very difficult to get through, but one thing we can know, at least conceptually, is that we can always flip the script, we can always change things when we decide to, and that doesn't mean we can change any or even all circumstances in our life whenever we choose to. But we always have control over our perspective, we always have control over our attitude, we always have complete domain and control over how we respond to what happens to us, and especially over the long term. That's what's important, that's what matters, because oftentimes, if not nearly always, that's the difference between getting stuck in a bad situation and just writing it down further to actually turning things around, actually taking the bad and turning it into good.
Because that's an incredible, yet sort of mysterious ability that human beings have, this creative power, this creative alchemy to have bad things turn into good things. And we've all experienced it, we've all gone through this sort of thing where the worst thing that happens to us can eventually become one of the best things that ever happened to us. And what's the difference? What changed? Well, it's not only our perspective, it's not only how we think about what happened to us, but it's really how we respond, because we respond to things far differently when we think that the best thing that happened to us, versus when we think they're the worst. A lot of times, when we think something is the worst thing that's ever happened to us, we can end up bearing that down, bearing that deep within us, never really allowing it to rise, never really allowing ourselves to fully experience it fully, learn from it, fully grow from it, and instead hold it captive, keep it captured deep within us.
But again, being able to do this, being able to turn things around, is a skill, because on one hand, we don't want to be some Pollyanna, we don't want to just pretend that all these terrible things happening to us are actually good somehow, even if we know that that will probably end up being the way things shake out.
That can often involve a bit of spiritual bypass, a bit of a detachment from reality. And so, of course, we're not advocating for detaching from reality, we're not advocating for fantasy. What I am advocating for is confidence, is trust, is faith and knowing that we can endure, we can weather whatever happens to us, and that a lot of times, the trajectory that we're on, the trends that we're experiencing, are a choice and we can choose to change them, we can choose to work on them, we can choose to influence them in their opposite direction whenever we wish. Because, of course, if we've been alive very long, we've experienced hard times, we've experienced bad times. Things don't go our way, we experience failure, we experience loss, and when these happen over and over and over again, these experiences can kind of compound, it can be made greater by the sheer number of how many times we've experienced the same thing, and we can really feel put upon, we can really feel beaten down.
If it's bad enough. We can feel like there's some sort of like giant oppressive thumb in the sky that's just pushing down on us just for the sheer pleasure of watching us suffer and squirm. But of course that's not actually how things are. But when we do start to notice these sorts of trends, when these things do start to happen, one after another, after another after another, we do have to look at our part in it. We do have to look at our beliefs. We do have to look at our consciousness and ask ourselves how much are we participating in this downward trend? Where this gets really complicated, where this gets kind of prickly and tricky, is when this is our own fear, is when our life is contracting around us. Because we ourselves are contracting, we're trying to make ourselves smaller, we're trying to hide, we're trying to run away because this is too much, and sometimes, when situations are overwhelming, that is exactly the right thing to do. Sometimes we need to save harbor, sometimes we need to stop, sometimes we need to go smaller, we need to retreat within, we need to find the safety and the solace of a way to just take a time out, take a break, sit on the sidelines for a minute, recoup, recover, heal. But if we find these trends playing out and neither we find we don't actually need that or we don't even want that there are things specifically we can do during the tide. There are things specifically we can do to flip the script, and that mostly involves our own perspective, that mostly involves our own attitude, that mostly involves our own consciousness, our own beliefs around what's happening to us and what it all means.
I think if we've experienced hard times, we've also experienced a time where we really started to turn it around. Well, what happened? Well, my experience anyway. What usually happens is that I gain some sort of confidence, I get some sort of foothold, I get some sort of belief that it's not only safe but it's good to try again, it's good to do something different, that I find myself leaning into growth again, leaning into change again. I take responsibility, I take back control over what's happening to me and stop being this 100% reactive, passive being and decide that no, I'm going to take a stand, I'm going to actually do something, I'm going to change something. I've experienced these sort of patterns for years and years and years, and what finally changed was me. What finally changed was my approach. What finally changed was my confidence. What finally changed is, in a lot of ways, me shifting from passive into active, me shifting from victim to being responsible. What actually flipped was me. What actually changed was me, was my whole approach. And there's clearly something in this, clearly something that we like, that we know is true as human beings, because so many of our stories, so many of our books and movies, this is our favorite part of the story, this is our favorite part of the hero's journey.
When the hero finally accepts the challenge, when it finally says no, I'm not just going to keep writing these negative situations down, I'm going to do something different. I'm going to take a stand, I'm going to believe, I'm going to have the confidence and faith that I may not be successful, but I have to try. I have to try to create change. I have to try to do something different Because I can't just keep getting put upon by life. I can't keep getting dumped on by life. I can't keep being a victim of life. I can't keep just walking through my life having all of these things happen to me and pretend that it's fine. I have to reach a point where I acknowledge and admit that it's actually not fine and I'm going to do something about it. I have to flip the script on these situations and circumstances.
I'm the one that has to change. I'm the one that has to do something. This all starts and ends with me and, of course, life lives in the middle, but I'm the one that starts it. I'm the one that gets it all going. I am the headwaters of my entire life experience. I'm also the one experiencing my life experience. I'm the one who gets this whole ball rolling and I am the one who experiences the rolling ball. And again, the hardest part about this, the hardest part about knowing this, the hardest part about doing this, is knowing that often this involves engaging with, acknowledging reckoning with our own fear, because, especially when it gets into, like basic survival, it gets into issues of identity, into issues of security, issues of being able to take care of the people we care about, being able to take care of ourselves. When it gets into those areas where we really feel threatened on a fundamental level, that's when fear can be the most potent, that's when fear can be the most convincing and influential.
But again, we always get to choose. We always have the authority, we always have the autonomy that, in every aspect of our existence. Free will runs through and under all of it. It's what everything is based on. We can always choose. We always are choosing, no matter how put upon we think we are, no matter how out of control we think we are, we're always choosing. These choices may be unconscious, but we're still making them. We're still the ones who are living our life, ultimately, and we get to choose. We get to choose when we turn things around. We get to choose what we think about circumstances. We get to choose how we identify a trend. We get to choose what we pursue. We get to choose what we value. We get to choose our timing. We get to choose our entry point. We get to choose our exit point. We are the ones choosing, we are the ones making the choices, we are the ones living the choices and we are the ones living out the ramifications of our own choices.
And so, for example, if we are in an income situation where we've lost a job, we've lost a bunch of work, or watching our income dwindle down, how do we respond to that? What do we do with that information? Because that can be really scary, and it's normal, it's acceptable, it's expected to be scared when these sorts of survival. Things confront us, but we don't have to stay there. We don't have to let that fear become resonant within us, especially if the situation is a bit of a shock. We can deal with that situation. We can feel what we need to feel. We can take the time to deal with that and process it. But we can also seize the opportunity to create something different, because every loss creates the room for more growth.
No matter how big, no matter how painful doesn't mean it's going to be instant. It doesn't mean even it's going to be equal, but it usually is faster than we think and usually is bigger than we think. That's how our hope and faith get paid off. It's that usually, when we find the courage to mean we go into difficult situations as openly as we can, with as much faith as we can, with as much confidence as we can, with as much courage as we can, things tend to work out better than we expected. That faith and hope and courage is paid off. It doesn't mean it's not difficult to go through. It doesn't mean there won't be lots of dark nights potentially, but if we can persevere we can get through to the other side. We can experience the fruition of our faith, of our confidence, of our being true to what we know.
As sticky and difficult as fear is, we don't need to get trapped in it. We don't need to get trapped by it. We can move out of it. We can regain our confidence, we can regain our self-assuredness, and sometimes it's precisely through acting first that we can do this. It's precisely through seizing confidence, claiming confidence rather than earning it. Sometimes the growth we need is waiting for us to act first, waiting for us to make the first move, waiting for us to do first, and we'll only know if we try because in that situation, we've lost a job and we've lost income.
Well, here's an opportunity to do something different. Here's an opportunity to change. It doesn't mean it's easy, but here it is, especially if we weren't 100% satisfied with what we were doing, especially if there was something nagging at us, some yearning to do something different. Well, now, here's our chance, at the very least. Now here's our opportunity to show up, for ourselves, to be the hero in our own story, that we're the ones who decide what this means.
Sure, we can choose things like destruction and failure and suffering, but we can also choose growth. We can also choose opportunity. We can choose responsibility. We can decide to take charge. We can decide to create change. We can decide to do something different. We can decide to rise above and realize that we are more than just our circumstances. We are more than just our luck. We are more than just what happens to us, that these things are the created and we are the creator. We are the ones who live in front, who live before, who exist before all that happens to us, and we can choose. We can choose to build this creative confidence. We can choose to try. Even if we don't have to build ourselves up to be this magnanimous giant, we can at least try. We don't have to sit here and take it. We can do something different. We can try something different. We can use these situations. We can use these circumstances as motivation rather than justification or how there's something wrong with us. We can choose to let this energize us or de-energize us. We can choose to let this motivate us or demotivate us.
We're the ones who attach meaning. We're the ones who invent meaning. There is no universal meaning to anything. For almost everything that happens in our life, it means whatever we say, it does Whatever we decide. So why not decide that ultimately, whatever happens to us, there's some good in here somewhere. Ultimately, whatever happens to us, this is the right thing. Nothing has gone wrong, nothing has gone awry. I'm in the right place at the right time and the right thing is happening to me. I can't see it yet, I don't know it yet, and to get to that juice, that might take a tremendous squeeze, but it's always there if we look for it. There's always a turnaround. Possible Positivity always exists, maybe hidden, maybe difficult to find, but it's always there. Because it's so easy to choose negativity, it's so easy to just take things at face value and say, well, I guess these things happen to me because there's something wrong with me.
My life sucks because I suck. I guess that's a choice. That's meaning that we've attributed to what's happened to us. That's something we've made up and we can make up something different, especially once we've spent some time with some self-awareness, once we've really gotten to know ourselves, once we've really explored within ourselves, then that awareness tends to bleed over into our identity and how we think about ourselves. What we know about ourselves.
There are more than just these physical bodies. There are more than just these achievements. There are more than just this material accumulation. We're more than this name. We're more than this nationality. We're more than this standing in society.
We can use this as a grounding, as an anchor point to go through life with, to know that what circumstance ever happens to us, it's only circumstance. It doesn't mean it's not hard, it doesn't mean it can't be horrendous, but circumstances are merely circumstances and circumstances change, are influenced as we change, because we've all experienced that too, in those times of turnaround where it seems like nothing good was happening to us and everything bad was happening to us, and then all of a sudden we changed and that flipped too. Now, all of a sudden, good things started to come to us, sometimes without even trying. Things we've been waiting for for years seem to just show up on our front porch ready to go, wrapped with a ribbon on top, and the beauty is what really changed. What really flipped was ourselves. Deep inside, was our approach to life, to what fuel we were running on. We were fused to run on fear and chose to run on something else, chose to find some trust, chose to find some confidence, chose to find some inspiration, chose to believe in ourselves, believe in life, believe in the future, believe that good things do happen and that it sure seems like the best things happen to those who persevere, to those who try.
So we're going to try, we're going to persevere. We're going to create myriad change in our life by simply changing our approach and our attitude towards it. We're going to stand up, we're going to stand tall. We're going to decide to do something. We're going to decide to do something different. We're going to decide to at least try to be the hero in our own story.
We're going to decide to stop being victimized by life, by circumstance, feel downtrodden, feel put upon by everything that happens to us, and realize life is an unfolding set of infinite opportunity and that we're the ones who create. We're the ones who choose our course, our direction. We choose how we respond to things. We choose if we do this, if we don't do that, and thus especially over a longer time period. Our life is the culmination of our choices.
So if we want to turn things around, if we want to flip the script, one of the best things we can do is make different choices. Choose to believe. Choose to believe in ourselves, choose to have trust and confidence in what we know and know if we're wrong. We'll be shown that pretty quickly. If perhaps one of our errors is we're a little over competent, we have a little too much hubris, we'll be shown that pretty quickly If we're paying attention, if we're aware, if we're willing to see the truth, if we're willing to be honest with ourselves, if we're willing to hear honesty from others a lot of ways you don't actually have to worry about being overconfident.
That will be obvious if we're paying attention. The thing that we need to worry about, or the thing that needs attention, is being underconfident. I think that's a way bigger problem than being overconfident personally, because, at the very least, people who are overconfident don't really worry about it so much, but people who are underconfident seem to worry about it all the time. So that's something we can always do. We can choose confidence. We can choose to believe in ourselves. We can choose to believe in life. We can choose to trust life on whatever measure we can, even if it's just a little, even if it's just 1% more than we did yesterday.
That's progress. And then try, act as if that's true and see what happens. Make the next best step for us, for the future we want, for the life we want, for the things that we want to inhabit, the things we want to experience, the things that we want to encounter, and decide to do it. Decide to actually go for it and do it in the way that makes the most sense for us. It's just something we have to blow up our lives. A lot of times, the most profound change in our life is internal. That circumstance can be exactly the same, but if we've shifted our perspective, if we've reapplied and reassessed the meaning of what happens to us, then our whole life is different, without anything outside of us needing to actually change. And we know we're on the right track. We start coming across things like appreciation, gratitude, wonder, search and hope, service, kindness. We know we're on the right track because the right track feels good. The right track feels nourishing, the right track feels right and we can trust that. We can trust that good feels good.
When we really boil it all down, it's not really that complicated. Where it gets complicated is when we start deceiving ourselves, when we start rationalizing, when we start denying our life experience as it actually is, what it actually feels like, what conflicts we actually harbor, what pain we actually carry around, what pain we actually create. The more honest and aware we are, the easier life gets or, at the very least, the simpler life gets. It doesn't mean everything will magically come to us, but just by the shift of perspective, not everything has to anymore. It's not that it doesn't matter, it's not all that matters Not going into life as some void, some giant stomach, just trying to consume our way of peace and joy To being okay, to having a good life. In a lot of ways, we can have a good life without anything at all changing, not anything additional happening to us. We already have a good life, but it required a perspective shift in order to see it. Sometimes it required very difficult circumstances to happen to us To be able to know this, to be able to see this, to be able to acknowledge this, and this is how the worst thing can become the best thing.
Because we grow, we change, our life improves because on some level, fundamentally, we've improved, we've gotten an upgrade, we've changed. We're not thinking the same way, we're not acting the same way, we're not doing the same things. We can see so much more than we used to. Our vision is so much more holistic. We notice other people. We notice our effect on other people and their effect on us. We notice our participation in a community, in a system, in life, and notice the way life contributes back to us. Our eyes are open, we're awake, we can see the whole.
We can see clearly now, we understand it, we get it, and all of this was made possible by something bad happening to us, by some difficult circumstance, at the very least in our income. Example. What if we fast forward five years from now and you're making more money than you've ever made? Well, was that loss of income a good thing or a bad thing? Did that end up being the key to a whole new level that you'd have never even known was there for you if you hadn't gone through this? Or maybe five years from now, it'll still be the same struggle and it'll open up five years in one day, or 10 years, or 15 years, whatever it is.
We get to choose. So why not choose to turn it around? Why not choose to make something of it? Why not choose to make something good out of something bad, because we can make negative circumstances, bad things happening to us, and as much of a story as we want, we can ride on that story. We can cash in on that story forever or not. We can decide to tell a different story. We can decide. You know what turns out.
That was actually a good thing, that was actually the key, actually, and it all starts with our own willingness. It all starts with our own willingness to try to believe, to have confidence, to have faith, perhaps before we have any evidence of it. And then trust we know what we know. Trust that we can trust our awareness, we can trust the feedback that life is giving to us. Trust that our eyes are open and we're experiencing life fully. And that's enough information. That's enough information for the next step and whatever information we'll need.
The step after that will be revealed then that we can decide to believe.
We can decide to attach a positive meaning, a positive ultimate meaning, to what's ever happening to us and then go forth and act with that perspective, with that information, and then see what changes Ultimately over the long term.
We are the ones who have the creative power over our own life and we choose what we create, and so, no matter what's happening to us, no matter what the trends are, no matter what the history is, no matter what the habits are, no matter what the expectations are, we can decide to change, we can decide to flip the script, we can decide to do and be something different whenever we wish, because when things are different, when we are different, we will look back at that time, look back at that before time and know this to be true, know that everything changed when we decided to change. Notice everything changed when we decided to believe in a different meaning, to believe in ourselves, to tell a different story. And because we changed, our life changed. And because our life changed, because something bad happened to us, we will have lived through that bad thing that happened to us becoming one of the best things that happened to us.