The Story We Tell Ourselves

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The story we tell ourselves is like our own personal background music, something that we may or may not notice but remains constantly playing. From our every day lives to the big picture—our story becomes the ‘why’ behind our actions, the ‘what’ we believe we’re capable of, and the core of our identity. But how many of our stories are true?

I’m betting the majority of yours are only half true, just like mine.

There were times in my life when I hit a wall and instead of figuring out a way to climb over, dig under, or go around—I sat on the front-side of the wall telling myself there was no way past the obstacle. I did not believe I was capable of figuring out a solution nor did I believe I had what I needed in order to do so. The narrative I created around the obstacle was more complicated than the obstacle itself—yet there I sat, placing blame and undermining my confidence, staring at the bricks I swore I couldn’t get through. It was only when I started changing my story did the bricks begin to fall.

So what are your current obstacles? More importantly, what are the stories you’re telling yourself that comes after the word ‘because’?

Because I don’t have money/time, I am not able to [blank].

Because my current circumstances do not allow me to [blank], it is impossible to [blank].

Because now is not the right time, I cannot [blank].

At one point or another, we’ve all made excuses for why we’re not doing XYZ, dressed it up as the truth by loosely tying facts together, and secured it with our conviction. Something so fragile would inevitably come undone, revealing the half-truth we had long forgotten about, and force us to decide if we’ll repeat the past or let the pieces fall.

So what’s my story? I’m a sick person because I rely on medication to be healthy, therefore I am not able to live my life the way I want to.

It’s true, I take medications to keep my body healthy but just because they’re prescription and not over-the-counter, I’m putting myself in the ‘unhealthy’ category? Unhealthy in what standard? There was a period of time when I was sick but even when I got better I still identified myself as a sick person. As if my illness had permanently defined me, I wore it like an identity and embodied it as if it was still my present because I wasn’t ready to face a world that had become terrifying over the last year. Subconsciously I started to use my identity as an excuse to why I wasn’t living the life I wanted. Eventually, that lie became a convincing argument for why I was not fully capable of accomplishing anything at all. I told myself a lie so I wouldn’t have to see the truth but even a lie starts to sound true if you say it enough times.

To this day I’m still afraid that if I change my half-truth into the actual truth, maybe I won’t measure up in the real world. I’ll be unsuccessful at living the life that I talk about but have no excuse to cushion the blow to my pride. I’m settling for ‘happy enough’ because I fear what I have to do to be happy. I have to put myself out there and risk my pride, my art, and myself. And maybe the whole truth is that I’m not ready to do so.

Sometimes we create stories to protect ourselves from things we’re not ready to acknowledge because the fear surrounding the truth is greater than the guilt caused by the lie. However, the longer we continue to live the lives we know we don’t really want, we rob ourselves of all the joy we could have if we chose to speak to our truth.  

The stories we choose to tell ourselves can be the antidote or the poison. If we choose to tell ourselves that we are not capable, we won’t be. If we choose to tell ourselves that we will never be able to achieve our dream because we lack talent, we will never. If we choose to tell ourselves that we are less than, we always will be.

The stories we tell ourselves are the people we believe ourselves to be. It is who we are choosing to be.

Change the story you tell yourself and change your life. The person whose words you believe the most is your own.  So tell yourself that you believe in who you are, that you are capable, that you are enough—because you can. You have the power to rewrite your story—so choose to make it a good one.