We tell ourselves limiting stories that contain no truth. What follows is a pictorial example of exactly what I am talking about.
Inner story at the time: “I’m fat. I mean, really, really fat. I have to stop eating for a year or no one will ever love me. The reason why I am alone and a loser is because I am fat and ugly.”
Dang, this was Halloween 1988 (hence the glorious fake tattoo). I was eighteen years old, and so careful about my diet and exercise. I was a swimmer and a dancer. I was a sophomore at UC Santa Cruz where the daily treks between classes were hikes through redwood forests. I didn’t drink alcohol. I was at the peak of physical health but it didn’t matter to me. My excellent health and good looks were like a gorgeous song playing in the company of a person who was profoundly deaf. My own story was all I could hear. It was a story I’d been hearing for over a decade.
Something else about this picture that breaks my heart: I wasn’t even alone. I had three good friends standing behind me in this picture. I also wasn’t a loser. I was eighteen years old and already a sophomore in college. In another two and a half years I would complete my degree. But that night, like so many, I ended up in my room by myself feeling like I would never be normal.
Readers, why do we do this to ourselves in so many areas of our lives? We tell stories that have not been true for years, if they ever were true. Let’s question the stories that began as cautionary tales from others or from ourselves, and have morphed into tyrants limiting our happiness. I carried the story about myself as a fat loser for a long time and it was never true. I should have let it go.
Advice to myself: Open my eyes. Awaken my ears. Change my story to reflect reality. Change my story to reflect reality as it is manifesting into the wonderful, authentic present moment.
Write about the stories you tell yourself about your looks, relationships, money, smarts, or any area of your life where you carry insecurity or negative emotions. If it feels useful, reflect on what the origins of those stories are. Who first gave you these impressions? What stories were these people carrying themselves?
Literally write a new story to reflect a new reality, or one that you would like to manifest.
Write a letter to your younger self, reflecting truths about yourself that are clear now, but weren’t so much back then. Change your story in retrospect, and notice ways in which you were strong, successful, resilient, and kind.