Tell Yourself A Story
"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." (Lao Tzu)
We love stories. We love telling them. We love listening to them. We love creating them. We love being part of them.
Stories define our lives and our experiences. They remind us of who we have been and help make us who we are.
They also shape who we want to be.
Our stories define us and what we can become. They act as our subconscious (and often conscious) guides as to what we are capable of, what our potential is and what we should be doing. They have the potential to help us become our best selves.
But more often than we'd like, they hold us back. Stopping us from doing those things, letting go of those ideas, that we know constrain us from getting what we want.
Instead of helping us, our stories act as constraints that keep us from becoming who "we might be".
That's because we let our stories be shaped by a myriad of factors.
What we've been able to do so far. What our income is. What our weight is. What our parents told us. What our friends think of us. What we think our colleagues expect of us. What others in our company should be doing. What our age is. What others in our age cohort tend to do. Where we went to school. Where we didn't go to school. What type of clothes we wear. What type of clothes we don't wear. What our religion expects. What the "right thing" to do is.
The list of reasons goes on and on. And, most of the time, those reasons are all, absolute, fucking crap.
They represent someone else's ideals. They're self-perpetuating, limiting, and baseless.
They are someone else's stories that we've adopted for ourselves. Stories that act as fuel for that inner voice that is acting with good intentions, but almost always does nothing but batter us into submission, a numbness that represents a "safe space" where our dreams die and our passions wither away.
When we decide that a specific story is holding us back, we learn that we can and should be creating our own stories.
When we decide that we want something more than the status quo, we realize that we cannot allow the author of the story to be anyone but ourselves.
When we let go of these stories of who we think we are, we become who we really can be.
Look, I know that sounds like a cliched thing to say, but I don't know how to express it in any other way. Our stories are the best and worst things about us.
The key is to take control of them for ourselves. To be vigilant of where these stories came from. What the implication of each story is. How they define our thoughts as well as our actions. How they make us feel. Do they exhilarate us or make us comfortable? Do they push us or preserve our position? Do they box us in, or push us beyond where we think we can be?
This is an ongoing exercise. Sometimes, it's easy, sometimes it's a battle. Sometimes we change them for good, other times, they keep trying to creep back, because they've been shaped by strong forces, years of mental training.
But we have to keep trying. We have to keep shaping them for the better. We have to make them our stories. Not someone else's. Ours. On our terms.
For the sole reason that then, and only then, can we become who we really can be.