We all have a story to tell, which makes all of us storytellers. We tell stories to ourselves and to some of the people we encounter along the way. Our stories may cover various genres, from fiction to non-fiction, and their plot twists lead to both happy and unhappy endings.
As I continue to recover from the flu, I have been indulging in my medicinal version of the 3 Rs-reading, resting, and reflecting. One of the recurrent themes that I have been focusing on of late has been how powerful our unique stories are and how they can either support or sabotage our goals and dreams and inspire or discourage those around us. If you think that you either don’t have a story to tell or that your story is not significant, take a moment to review this list of commonly told stories to see if any of them sound even remotely familiar to your own story:
I am no good at relationships. I’m incapable of having one.
I can’t leave my job. I’m not good at anything else.
I just can’t lose weight.
I just have the worst luck when it comes to love.
I will never reach my goal.
Not to be outdone, these are a few of the stories that I have been known to tell:
I am not enough.
I will never find unconditional love and acceptance with a lifelong partner/spouse.
I can’t make a living as a professional writer/blogger.
I can’t get the hang of meditation.
I am not meant to have a lot of money.
To be fair, not all of the stories we tell ourselves are negative or untrue, but if you are like me, those negative stories are the ones we repeat to ourselves and to others on a regular basis. Over the past few years, I have challenged and changed many of the stories which contributed to, and helped to maintain, my bouts of anxiety and depression, but I have learned to identify the old stories, and the new ones, that no longer serve me well. Gradually, I have learned to dissect those negative stories to look for a way to change the ending, and as I have done so, my life has begun to change for the better.
One example would be the process of changing two of my most popular, yet painful, stories-I am not enough and I will never find unconditional love and acceptance with a lifelong partner/spouse. I allowed the end of platonic and romantic relationships and childhood issues to provide the basis for both storylines, but the fact is that all of those events are only part of my story. They are not the end of my story, as I have plenty of other experiences and relationships that tell a very different story, one that is much more positive and hopeful. I may not be enough for some people, but I am enough for myself and for others. While there are no guarantees that I will enter into a lifelong partnership/marriage, there also are no guarantees that I will not, either. So, why have I persisted in telling myself the worst case scenario stories for so many years, when telling myself a happier version would have felt so much better?!
As strange as it may sound, believing the worst feels strangely comforting in some ways. If I believe I am not enough, that I will never find unconditional love and acceptance with a lifelong partner/spouse, that I can’t make a living as a professional writer/blogger, that I can’t get the hang of meditation, that I am not meant to have a lot of money, and any other doom and gloom story that I have written in my mind and on my heart, then I never have to risk trying and failing or trying and succeeding, for that matter. Nothing ruins a perfectly good sob story than a happy ending, after all, and there was a time when I thought that the only stories I had to tell were unhappy ones. I was, thankfully, wrong, as I have lots of positive stories to tell.
At first, I stay in what I think is a safe comfort zone, but these unfulfilled desires and unmet goals quickly turn my safety zone into a prison. It definitely hurts to work toward a goal only to not reach it or to not have what you want when you want it, but I have discovered that it hurts more to hide behind a sad story and a litany of excuses than it does to tell a new one that moves me closer to what makes me happy. Along the way, I also have found that what seems like an unhappy ending at first glance ends up being a happy ending in hindsight.
So, pay attention to the stories you tell, and if you don’t like them, maybe, it’s time to turn the page. You can decide to shelve the old stories and write, read, and tell some new ones. This is your story, so, make it a bestseller, not a cheap novel!
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story