The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Many of us have “stories” that circle through our head with each life experience. Some of these stories are generative, while others can be destructive. Ultimately, we want to keep and maintain the positive or generative stories. However, the destructive stories can negatively affect our self-esteem, our relationships, and our outlook on the world around us. Not only may these stories affect our ability to function in the world, they impact our ability to stay present to what is happening in the moment.
Each story that runs through our head may be initiated by any number of events: a specific word, a friend’s reaction, the death of a loved one, someone cutting us off in traffic, receiving an unexpected bill, or any number of minor or major moments in life. One of the keys in dealing with our stories is to become aware of them – especially those stories that negatively impact our world view. Another key is to discover a creative way to bring the story out of the depths in our mind, bringing it into the light, and empowering us to change the story we tell ourselves. Sometimes, this might entail creating an entirely new story or it might just mean transforming the negative story into a positive one. The final stage is about maintenance – to continue telling ourselves the new or modified story until it becomes automatic.
Recently, I found myself in a circumstance in which the management team at my school censored my book of poetry. Another major factor in the situation is that I was not provided a rationale for the censorship. I was even provided with a date for a book release and signing party, which was announced to my networks. Another factor was the institution’s inability to communicate in a clear, concise, and timely manner. As this dialog continued or failed to continue, what stories was I telling myself?
When it became clear my book was being censored, I found myself in the following story: “I’m not worth anything. I don’t make a difference in the world. There is no value in life.” This particular story developed early in my childhood and has been a consistent theme in my life. In addition, it has a significant impact on my self-esteem, self-image, mental/emotional state, and my ability to function in the world. For the past couple of years, I worked extremely hard and utilized several methods of healing to discover the root of this story, bring it into my awareness, heal the wounds, and create a new story.
In fact, my book of poetry is the culmination of my process in discovering, healing, and changing this story. One of the major gifts of publication is the creation of a new story: “I have value. I make a difference in the world. Life is precious.” The question that was being raised from the censorship of my book – Was I going to make the effort to maintain my new story? Or was I going to allow the old story to reestablish itself in my mind?
The old story began to run automatically since it had been established in my psyche for years. Instantly, I began to rant about my worthlessness and the worthlessness of life to one of my mentors. She told me to take a deep breath and then asked me if this was the story I really wanted to tell myself. She also asked me if I was going to allow a few individuals inability to appreciate and accept my journey to affect my self-image, self-esteem, and worthiness. Basically, was I going to allow the issue of censorship to reinstate my old story?
Clearly, the answer to the question is “NO! I don’t want that old story!” After realizing what was happening, I began to retell myself the new story – “I have value. I make a difference in the world. Life is precious.” Amazing things began to happen once the new story started running through my head – a colleague offered me a location to host my book release and signing party and my book became desired because it is “controversial.”
What stories do you tell yourself? Are your stories generative? What creative outlet do you use to bring the stories into the light? How are you healing the old wounds? Do you know your process? Are you creating new stories or changing the old ones? What “triggers” old stories? What are you doing to maintain the new story? Are the old stories resurfacing? If so, what are you doing to reinstate the new story?
Adam Miramon is the owner of Ix Chel Wellness and the author of Gifts of the Seasons. He is an Intuitive Reiki Healer as well as a clinical acupuncture intern at Tai Sophia Institute.