Written by Tamar Brosh (MSc)
“When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him. In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Albert Camus
This quote captures so beautifully the way I felt when I started working on myself and with people as an instructor with the Expansion Method. People would come into my clinic usually sad, anxious, worried or depressed, and after the session they would leave radiating, smiling, happy and so relaxed and reassured. It was not because I am a magician, playing my tricks on them, or a hypnotist; it was not really about me. It was all due to the power of shifting our perspective and the wonders that can happen when we can expand our vision and see things in a different light. It became part of my personal vocation to help people make that shift, so that I can see the light on their faces over and over again.
Being Stuck in a Bad Story
Often, the suffering we feel is due to being stuck in a world view. We carry within us many conscious and unconscious beliefs that determine our reality and create our inner emotional ambiance. Even when we know, rationally, that we should think otherwise, and even when we try for a couple of days to hold on to a more positive approach, it doesn’t hold and we remain stuck in our negativity. We identify with our life’s story and tell it to ourselves repeatedly in our head, as if we were making sure our narrative stays intact and glued together, even when it makes us feel bad.
One woman from my clinic suffered from a low sense of self-esteem. She was a successful manager in a high tech company, she had power and authority and she was making a lot of money, and yet, underneath the surface, she suffered from a great deal of anxiety and lack of self-worth. When I asked her in one session, when we were working on the story of her life, what title or the name she would give to it, she said: “The Story of a Faker Who is About to Be Discovered”. This was her entire perception in a nutshell. She was always afraid the world would find out she is only faking being successful and powerful. For her, none of it felt real.
The Expansion Method that was developed by Shai Tubali over ten years ago, can take us from one state of mind to another quickly and methodically. It is like taking a short plane ride and moving from the ground level, where things seem and feel in a certain way, to the level beyond the clouds, where the sun shines eternally and nothing blocks the light. When I guided my client to expand her life story, in a few cycles of expansion, she went from the feeling of inner terror to a golden light state. When I asked her to look at her narrative from that “golden-light state”, she suddenly told a different story. Most of the dry facts remained the same, but the way she felt about herself and her life shifted from the story of a victim of her own fears, to someone who is capable, dedicated and almost heroic in her constant attempt to not be ruled by her fears and succeed in her life.
Is Cinderella a Princess or a Slave?
One thing I liked about the story of Cinderella, was that no matter where she was – slaving in the kitchen or dancing at the palace with the prince – she always felt the same about herself. She was generally an optimist and had a positive outlook. She could have been a miserable victim of her step-mother and sisters, but she held an affirmative perspective.
So the question is: Are we princes or slaves? How do we perceive ourselves and our lives?
If we are inclined to tell our story from a limited and disadvantaged viewpoint, from the perspective of the underdog or the victim, the first step we need to take is to change our story to the ‘overcoming version’. Overcoming is the narrative that acknowledges the weak points, the hardships and the challenges, but stresses the growth and overcoming part. We can find it in the way some people react to a traumatic event. They use the traumatic event to become stronger and they prevail over the negative effect of the trauma. They enjoy better relationships, have a deeper appreciation of life, feel they have more possibilities and often grow spiritually. It is called in positive psychology “post-traumatic growth” or PTG. If we can suffer intense traumas and still come out on the other side of this dark tunnel stronger and more connected to life, we can turn any story of weakness into a tale of triumph.
Going Beyond the Story
The expansion method is a great way to expand our perspective and gain insight and freedom. It enables a deep and transformative ‘relocation’ from the perspective of limitation and suffering to a more empowered and balanced worldview. However, the expansion method offers an even greater step. It can help us access a state of consciousness that goes beyond the personal story all together. It helps us connect to a state of an eternal balance, which goes beyond the ups and downs, the traumas and the overcoming. When we get in touch with such a state, our story stretches far and beyond the personal and local. It contains that whole of existence and includes all that is and that can be. Our personal and temporary story is included, but it is just one small part of a limitless whole. Our perspective can shift so dramatically, it is no longer imprisoned in passing circumstances and events.
When I expanded my client beyond the golden light, she reached a state she called “eternity”, and when I asked her to tell her story again, she simply said: “I am just a tiny star shining in the endless sky, no better or worse than all the other stars. We all shine and try our best and we are never at fault. My personal life is embedded by this grace and there is no reason to compare anymore or to fear”. This radical change of perspective enabled my client to take a huge step forward in her healing process. She could gradually let go of her inner terror and didn’t feel like a fake anymore. She changed her title to:
“One Small Star in the Sky, Shining Like All the Other Stars”.
So, this is my recommendation to you: write down the story of your life as you perceive it. Then, imagine you are taking an elevator to the roof of a tall building, and from that viewpoint, write your story and again and notice if there are any differences. And if you wish to try and take yet another step, you can imagine you are flying above the clouds, looking at your life and then write your story again. Choose the version that feels the truest and most empowering as your new narrative from now on.