Stories We Tell Ourselves

The sentence, “Stories we tell ourselves” kept rolling in my thought-space for the past few days. As I contemplated on this, I realized the stories we tell ourselves, and others, to justify the status quo, to justify our behavior, to justify why we are resisting change, why we want to give up on something that we are doing, or to never start something that we always wanted to do. Stories, stories, stories, …, stories of inadequacy, scarcity, laziness, inertia; of being a victim, of inferiority, of superiority, of being a savior, or of believing in a savior, that we keep telling ourselves and others. We keep telling stories as to why we did not progress in a field of our endeavor, how we are not college material, how we are not marriage material, or how we can never find a perfect mate or teacher. We tell stories of how we don’t have enough time, money, health, beauty or any of the infinite other things. Though we want to be writers, painters, singers or some type of artist, we give excuses telling stories of how we don’t have talent, how somebody in our life did not encourage us, how this is not the right time or place to start it or that may be we will start it when we are free of all our responsibilities. We repeat stories of our perfectionism, which in itself is a big blocking factor that would not let us even start things we really want to do. We tell stories like, “I have to have soft music playing for me to be creative” or “I need this perfect pen and paper to write well.” We tell ourselves that we are blocked creatively and that we are just waiting for our muse to whack us behind our head.

Stories We Tell Ourselves

All of these are just stories. There is no reality to them—none whatsoever. For example, I kept telling myself that I cannot visualize colors or lights and that visualization is something that I cannot do. What a cock and bull story I concocted for myself! I remember being able to visualize and daydream clearly when I was a kid. I don’t know when I lost it, or to be more precise, I don’t know when I created the story, “I cannot visualize.” I limited myself completely with this story and blocked myself from every opportunity of growth that visualization exercises could bring. Sometimes, without our knowledge, we create such stories because they bring us attention (in modern society even negative attention is not considered bad), or the person we are telling to will agree with us that they are also in the same boat which reinforces our belief in our story. It is a vicious cycle. When we believe in these stories strongly, every cell in our being believes them manifesting that into our reality which becomes our truth. It is all in the belief.

As you can see, we all have created such limiting stories in our lives. If we could create a limiting story and believe in it so strongly as to block ourselves completely, can we create more expansive story to unblock us and benefit us in our lives? Yes, we can!

We should always keep in our minds to never judge our stories as good or bad. It is quite probable that these stories we are calling bad now, actually helped us in our past to overcome a difficult situation or otherwise protected us. But, that same story may now be blocking or limiting us from progress. If you judge them as bad that may lead to guilt in you. So, we should only judge them as being useful or not useful now; alternatively, expansive or limiting at this point in our lives.

Stories can take many forms. We use these stores to give us a sense of identity and ego satisfaction. Some examples are (there infinite varieties of these stories as there are infinite varieties of minds),

  • Religious — I am Christian, I am Hindu, I am a Muslim, I am an Atheist, I am an Agnostic, etc.
  • Spiritual — I am a Yogi, I am a Gnostic, I am not religious but spiritual, etc.
  • Physical — I am Fat, I am Thin, I am Healthy, I am Sick, I am a Cancer Survivor, etc.
  • Social — I am Single, I am Married, I am Divorced, I am a Single Parent, I am responsible for my kids and spouse, etc.
  • Career — I am a Manager, I am a Scientist, I am very important at my work without me the work stalls, etc.
  • Victim, Savior — How could he/she do this to me? If you don’t believe and follow what I say you are doomed, etc.

As I said in the previous paragraphs, there are no good or bad stories, only those that aid our evolution and expansion as human beings and those that don’t. The trick is to not get attached to our stories, but be fluid and be willing to change or discard the stories that are not serving us well at this moment. We are responsible for our stories and nobody else. We believed in them by our own choice whether we knew it or not at the time we made that choice, and nobody else really made us believe in anything. It is about being truly open and create our stories for the moment—a momentary truth—and discard it the next moment that it becomes useless. Keep flowing with life without holding on to the useless stories, creating new expansive stories on your way.

The last sentences in the above paragraph may make it sound like you should be an “opportunist” when we say things like, “useful story for the moment.” Note that alternative terms are expansive and limiting. So, your stories have to be evaluated based on their expansive and limiting qualities and not in an opportunistic sense to gain an advantage over something or somebody. If a story creates a conflict within yourself and in your environment, and constricts you, then it is a limiting story. If it creates harmony and peace within and without, then it is an expansive or useful story.

Examine your stories now. Throw away those that are not true for you any longer. That will immediately free you from the burden of your past related to those stories. This requires tremendous courage, because from the time you created that story, you have been using it and it worked as an anchor in your life. The moment you realize that it is not useful any longer and decide to throw it away, you enter a state of void or nothingness until you replace it with the present-moment-truth. That void is a scary place. However, as we become experts at being fluid and start living in the moment and surrender to the movement of life, it becomes easier to change stories or identities moment to moment.

This is my story, and I am using it for the moment. 🙂

2 Responses

  1. Allison says:

    “If you hear a voice within you say ‘ you cannot paint ‘, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced” – Vincent Van Gogh

  2. Allison,

    Great quote! I do hear that voice quite a few times! 🙂