The Stories We Tell About Ourselves: Let Them Go, Watch Them Burn
Oh, the stories we tell ourselves about our lives…about who we are.
Our precious little narratives that we carry around like small dogs in purses.
We love to hold them, coddle them. Then they turn around and bite us. Little bastards.
I’m the type of person who is acutely self-aware most of the time, but now and then I get smacked in the face with a truth so apparent, i’m completely shocked I didn’t see it before now.
I guess that’s called an epiphany.
This time, it was the extent to which I allow my present life to be tainted by my past.
It usually happens when I’m trying to do something that intimidates me, a new writing project or job interview.
I’m feeling excited and inspired, then a familiar energy creeps over me. I hear a nagging little whisper:
“Psst…uhm, you can’t do this. Remember? You’re a failure?”
I keep mulling over the fact that I haven’t really made a significant amount of income writing, because in the past, I didn’t put enough effort into it.
What happened in the past matters, of course. Lessons were learned. But they’ve already been learned. I don’t need to keep reiterating the same lessons, over and over. I already know that what I was doing wasn’t working to make money, and it didn’t get me where I want to be. Lesson learned. How does tormenting myself over it help me move forward? It doesn’t; it just brings fear and pain into the present. It just makes me hate myself.
Is self-loathing a great energy to take with me on my path to make things right? Not really.
What would happen if I let that story go?
Not just that narrative, but all of the ones I’ve been clinging to:
I’m a failure.
I didn’t try hard in the past, so eventually I will give up and go back to my comfort zone.
I’m not a good enough writer. I’m not brave enough to market or ask for money.
I don’t have the ability or talent to make more than the bare minimum, on my own or through an employer.
Everyone thinks I’m a failure, and will laugh at me or ignore me.
I’m a bad mom.
I’m a bad friend.
I can’t help support my family financially.
No one will ever see my talent or want to hire me.
Just to name a few.
I’ve decided to let them go. Better yet, I’d like to put them on paper, and watch them burn.
Here are the only questions I want to concern myself with from now on:
1)How did I do today?
2)How can I improve for tomorrow?
That’s it. Pretty simple, and I like it like that. I tend to over-complicate things anyway.
I can’t really burn them just yet, since I live in an apartment and don’t want to set off the smoke alarm. Or look like a weirdo burning stuff outside.
But my dad loves to make fires in his fireplace, and next time i’m there, those bad boys are goin’ down.
We’ve all got stories that no longer serve us, or never have. Let them go, watch them burn. Rise from their ashes and take on the world.
What are your stories? Talk about them in the comments!
Photo Credit: Rob Howard