The Stories We Tell Ourselves

We ALL tell stories. But perhaps more important than the stories we tell others, are the ones that we tell ourselves. The ones that are so oft repeated we begin to think of them as fact. I’m not good enough/fast enough/thin enough to be a dancer. I’ll never make it as a professional artist.

A while ago, a healer pointed to my husband’s head. “Everything your parents told you- all lies,” she said. For him, this was an epiphany. At the time, I found it confusing and couldn’t clearly comprehend what she was talking about. It wasn’t until after I’d taken a spiritual memoir writing course and the Buddhist teacher asked us to journal about the lies we tell ourselves (exclusively those which were holding us back) that I began to gain an understanding of the concept.

When I returned home, I rushed into his studio. “I understand!” I exclaimed. “She was telling you that all the things your parents had told you- you can’t do this! you won’t succeed at that!– they are lies. You are capable of doing anything you put your mind to!”

He looked up and smiled, “That is exactly right.”

“You think you aren’t talented enough to be a writer,” he said. “But you are! The lies in your head are holding you back.”

I nodded. It was true. Ever since my father told me that the chance of becoming a published author was one in a million, I had all but given up. I let it drain my confidence. I began to internalize what he had said- allowing the statement to harden- to begin to look and feel like fact. Why risk the shame and embarrassment associated with rejection? I put my manuscripts in a drawer and left them there.

In the memoir class, I realized that my father could not foretell the future; if I didn’t shake his voice, I would fail to share my writing or contribute to ongoing cultural conversation.

The importance of self-confidence is oft repeated, but with good reason; you must believe in yourself. You must care for yourself. You must care enough to look inward and examine your core beliefs. What stories are you telling yourself? And which, if any, are interfering with your dreams and/or personal development?

We all see the world though a unique lens- one that is made up of and colored by personal experience. Sometimes, however, it is important to extricate oneself, if only for a moment, to gain a better understanding of its varied and manifold components.

If you feel moved to do so, I encourage you to leave a comment so that other readers can benefit from your wisdom and experience. Thank you!