The power of our stories
The sun was beating down on me and I was sweating bullets. But I still couldn't put the damn book down.
I flipped over onto my back, holding the book over my head to block the direct glare of the sun in my eyes. I turned the page. I kept reading.
The story captivated me.
A few hours later I would complain to my boyfriend that I had gotten sunburnt from laying out too long.
"Well, why on earth didn't you stop and come inside?"
Um...the story, dude!
We are captivated by stories - whether we get our fix from books, articles, Netflix, the latest Avenger's movie, the local gossip... or in our very own minds.
Stories grab us and they don't easily let go.
Because stories are how we engage with the world. They are how we learn. They are how we interpret information and experiences. They are woven into our very DNA. Stories are how we define our lives. Which means...
The story we choose to read to ourselves is the one we get to live.
The events that happen in our lives are neither good nor bad - they just are. It's the story that we make up about them that makes us feel a certain way.
You could put yourself out there, try out a new idea, give it all you've got, and maybe one person responds to it.
You could make up any number of stories about that.
I tried so hard, but it didn't work, what's wrong with me?
Why doesn't anyone get what I do?
I obviously do not matter
Or stories like...
I tried this, and this was the result, so I have learned something
I reached ONE person, which means I get to help someone
Only you will know what story is really true for you.
Here are the telltale signs the story you are wrapped up in is a big fat LIE:
You find yourself using words like "should," "wish," "never," and "need"
The story focuses more on others actions (or inactions) rather than your own
You feel like SHIT
If you are believing a story that is not true, it will cause you suffering. So if you are suffering, you are deeply entwined with a lie.
On the other hand, indicators of a TRUE story are:
You find yourself using words like "thankful," "amazing," "peaceful," and "cool"
The story focuses on your own actions and what you have control over
You feel expansive, inspired, and excited - aka BADASS
If you find yourself getting pulled into the first camp, there are a few ways to move from the lie to the truth.
First, please for the love of all that is good, be kind to yourself. If you are in the thick of a storyline that makes you feel small, doubtful, afraid, angry, and upset, the best thing to do is give yourself some space. We are all human and we all fall down.
Second, identify the story you are telling yourself. Even write it down. What are the exact thoughts going through your head in that moment? No judgment, just observation.
Third, ask yourself if this story is really true. Does it cause suffering? Then you know it is not. Who would you be without this story? See if trying on the opposite story actually feels more true.
Rewriting our stories is work in it's deepest, gnarliest, and purest form. It's not always easy and it can feel down right uncomfortable. But as Brene Brown says, "When we own our story, we get to rewrite the ending."
And you got time, because you ain't at the end yet.