The Story You Tell
Feeling desperate? Stuck in a rut? Life's a big drag and nothing's getting better?
Change your story.
I can’t remember the first time I read, or heard about “the stories we tell ourselves.” Perhaps it was in the assortment of self-help books that I devoured soon after my marriage had irreparably broken down. At that time, the Story I was telling myself was that I was broken. And, boy did I feel it. I felt it, I embodied it, and I told anyone who would listen. The story of divorce is never a happy one and although ours was relatively benign- I was broken with back pain and sick with adrenal fatigue. Because I believed I was broken, and sick, it affected how I walked, how I talked, and how I perceived everything. You see, reality is really only 1% "reality" and 99% personal perception. I made this up, but I’m certain it’s true. When parents remind their children to eat their green beans because children in other parts of the world are starving- they hope this change in perspective leads to a new outcome (those beans might not taste as bad when you know others don’t have enough food). The only good thing about the story I was telling about my divorce and my life at the time was that I always ended it with “but I will be ok.” I believed this part of the story too… and it was the only thing that saved me from being "broken."
What story are you telling about your situation? Is there a way to change your perspective so that the “green beans” don’t look so bad and you start to change your reality? Life can be hard. Life can be unbelievably hard. But...sometimes you have to fake it till you make it. Let’s be clear- we all need to vent and we all need people to hear us and see our pain. But think about how often you tell the same story, and how deeply you believe it yourself. If you are out of work and desperately trying to find a job, but you tell everyone around you that there are no jobs and that no one wants to hire you because you're too old…you are writing your own story not only in your own mind but in the hearts and minds of the people around you. If you tell yourself you're lonely, you have no friends and no one even cares about you… you are writing your own story. Tell yourself how wonderful you are and what a great friends you make... and then be that friend and forget about your loneliness. I know it's not that easy. Changing your story can take a tremendous amount of will power, as well as a huge dose of bravery. Sometimes we are really in love with our own stories, even when they are hurting us. We believe them because we feel safe on the hamster wheel of telling the story, living the story, telling the story, living the story, and so on. What if we try to tell a new story and it doesn't work? So what? Nothing ventured, nothing gained right? Take the chance... it will be worth it.
Even when you succeed in getting rid of your BIG negative stories, start to listen closer.. you might find you have lots of little stories you are telling that you might want to dump as well. I thought I was pretty good about putting the "bad stories" to bed when one day a wise friend pointed out to me that I was always saying, “oh I’m so old!” He said- what if every time you said something like that a little genie granted your thoughts like wishes. Of course I looked at him horrified because the truth of it was, I was only 42 and I didn't want to be old, or to feel old, or to look old, but for some reason I kept saying this out loud to everyone all the time- as a joke. But the joke was becoming my reality. When I looked into the mirror, I only saw my gray hair and wrinkles. Yet once I realized the error in the statement, I immediately stopped telling people I was old. It did not take long before something shifted in my subtle body, in the way I looked into the mirror, in how I held myself, and even in the energy I felt throughout the day. It was amazing… it was like I had reversed my aging- and I did.
Don't ever forget that you have tremendous control over your own perspective. Start to notice the story you are telling about yourself. If you really want to change your life, change your story first. You might even take the time to write it down. Start to tell people- especially yourself! Then you will start to believe it and before you know it you will be living that story!
Peace and blessings to you on your journey!