Who Would You Be Without Your “Story?”

We all have our stories… stories about the world, stories about other people, but most of our stories are about one thing… ourselves.  It’s human nature to think about ourselves. How am I doing? What do they think of me? What do I think of me? Unfortunately, some of these recurring stories aren’t exactly the feel-good kind.  And sometimes we carry these negative autobiographies around with us for years. These toxic tales tell us things like: I’m too young. I’m too old. I’m too weak. I’m a failure. I can’t do anything right. I can’t learn a new thing. I’m not smart. I can’t ever seem to get it right. I could never to do that…. You get the idea. I think we can all relate to at least one of these stories. I know I relate to several of them.

One of the most profound realizations I’ve have had in this life is this:  Our stories are just STORIES. They are not real. Once we allow a story into our minds, the tall tale jumps into a loop in our brain and rides around and around in there, until we decide to notice it for what it is…. a story. This act of taking a step back and recognizing a story for what it is, is called awareness.
It’s important to understand that becoming aware of the stories running rampant in our heads is no easy feat. We need to have a lot of compassion for ourselves when we start becoming aware of these negative stories, because we may be surprised at how many negative stories we find once we begin to investigate. But the more we become aware of the stories, the more they begin to lose their grip on our lives.
We live in a world where advertisers spend billions of dollars a year telling us the story that we are not enough. These days, it is more important than ever to protect our precious minds and make sure that the stories that are taking up space in our minds are ones that we actually want there. So how does one become aware of his or her stories?
I’d like to invite you to join me in a simple exercise:
Close your eyes, and take a deep breath and then it out.
Ask yourself these two questions:

  1. What story am I telling myself that is not helpful?
  2. Who would I be without that story?
This is a practice that I try to do every day.  Sometimes I find the same old familiar stories have reared their heads again, and sometimes new ones show up, but being aware of them grants me freedom from them.  It takes practice, but freedom is available to all of us.
We don’t have to be ruled by our stories. They are not real.
They are just stories.
Who would you be without your story?

Daniel Stover, M.A.

Founder & CEO of Ensight Partners

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