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Stories We Tell Ourselves

Updated: Feb 29, 2020

Intropections for August 2019

It’s a matter of perspective. We constantly tell ourselves the stories of our lives. But do we actually have the perspective right? Bob Marley, considered the father of Reggae music, said “Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.” Are the stories we tell ourselves the truth or are they based in fear?

These questions bring to mind a conversation I had with a friend. We were discussing different things. Clothes we liked. Ideas for the future. Things we wanted to do.

We also talked about our insecurities. She let me know how she always envied the “elegant” people and how she wanted to be like them.

I sat in stunned silence for a moment. My friend is one of the most elegant people I’ve ever met. At a company ball, she dressed up like a 40s movie star with a turban and everything. She looked Amazing! Yes, with a capital “A.”

I asked her why she didn’t think she was elegant. She said she just didn’t think she could pull it off. She wasn’t happy with her size. She wasn’t happy with the clothes. Her perspective was focused on the negative.

Again, I was flabbergasted.

I told her how I’d always admired her elegance and wished I could have the poise and fashion sense that she did. To say dressing up is not my forte isn’t a lie. I’ve never been interested in fashion or make up or very many “girlie” things. I never learned about it. I was too much of a tomboy. Even today, my husband and I are more comfortable on a farm than in a fancy restaurant.

Then she surprised me again. She told me she always admired my confidence and ability to be so at ease when speaking with people and giving talks to the public. People really seemed to respond to me. She really wished she could be more like me.

Just a hint: I’m ALWAYS nervous and uncomfortable in a crowd.

But our conversation got me thinking. She told herself a story about her not being elegant. I told myself that I was nervous and people really didn’t want to hear what I had to say. So I wondered. How many of the stories that I’ve told myself are actually lies I tell myself? And more to the point, why do I tell myself these negative stories. Why do I hold such an erroneous belief so tightly even though I know it keeps me from growing?

And how do I change those beliefs?

Oh, I’ve noticed I’m a little hard on myself at times. But I never really thought about it enough to change anything. Lately, I’ve begun to wonder how to change this story, this self-talk that I’m not this or can’t do that. I want to change this to what I am and can be. The stories I don’t want need have to go back on the shelf. I want to choose a new story. One that helps me live a better and happier life. One that helps me grow in my spiritual practice. One that makes me a better person for myself as well as others.

But how do I do that?

First, I needed to start paying attention, really paying attention, when one of those limiting stories pops up. I started keeping a journal of the things I said to myself. That showed me just how mean I am to myself. So many “Why did you do that?” or You’re so stupid. What is wrong with you?” or “Why try? You aren’t qualified to do this?” I would never say that to someone else. Why do I say it to me?

I read somewhere that for every negative comment you need at least nine positive ones to counteract it. That boggles my mind. We’ve become programmed to believe this negative self-talk.

So I started a journal. For every negative thought I catch myself thinking, I write nine things about myself that are positive, not to mention true.

“I’m stupid.” No, I’m not. I have a college degree. I have a high IQ. I’m creative. My vocabulary is extensive. I know quite a bit about a number of wildly different topics. I can hold my own in a conversation with a doctor or paleontologist. I can create poetry and music. I treat everyone with respect. I’m a great friend.

Whew! At first it was hard to come up with nine things that, deep down, I believed and knew were true. We generally don’t like to brag about ourselves. It makes us uncomfortable. I know it does me. And, it’s become much easier with practice to find those nine things. Sometimes, more than nine positive thoughts come to mind. That’s how I know I’m making progress.

Now that the journal is started, I need to keep going with it. It’s hard and, at times, I feel self-centered. But we need to be self-centered from time to time. If we keep beating ourselves down so much, we won’t be able to help the people we care about. We will have depleted all our energy, health, time, and everything we have, and there will be nothing left for anyone else.

I’m going to challenge you. Yes, you reading this post. What are the negative things you say about yourself? Keep a list. Write them down. Put a different one on every page.

Then go back and list at least nine of the reason why that negative thought or belief isn’t true. Go back and read this list. Reread it. Read it again and again until you start to hear those words the way you heard the negative ones. Leave a comment to let me know how it goes.

Let the world know what a wonderful, brilliant, unique individual you are!

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The Blue Lotus-RVA

The Blue Lotus-RVA

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