So, what’s your story?
An interesting questions to be sure. How would you answer that? What is the story of your life, the one you are telling yourself?
As we walk through life, we see ourselves in a particular way. We let our outside experiences, the roles we play, our jobs, even our physical presence, our bodies, determine who we are. We let them create our thoughts and we equate our thoughts with who we are.
But all of this is constantly changing. Our roles, our experiences, our bodies change every moment, so these do not define who we are.
That’s the good news, this fluidity of our lives. This means that we can choose how to integrate all these events into our lives. We can choose how to make sense of them and what meaning they bring to our lives.
The chatter that fills our minds can be overwhelming. In Buddhism, they call this the “monkey mind” meaning unsettled or restless, confused or indecisive, uncontrollable. Your mind processes all these experiences and details and chatter of your daily life, choosing how to categorize each and creating thoughts.
You are not the thoughts in your mind, you are simply the one who listens.
Is the story you have chosen to listen to best serving you? Is this the one you want to tell yourself? If you don’t like the current story you’ve written of your life, you can choose to change it.
So now it’s time to think about the experiences and roles that have defined you in the past. Being mindful and intentional about your thoughts can help you to reframe those experiences you may have seen as “negative” and turn them into a growth experience.
I’ll give you an example.
In high school, I was in an abusive relationship. I was afraid to leave because he said that he’d kill himself if I did. Through some very wise counsel, I was able to see that I was not responsible for his reaction, and I found the courage to leave. He didn’t, by the way.
Unfortunately, this relationship colored my future, and I found myself in one unhealthy relationship after another. I didn’t think I was worthy of someone who respected me.
Each time I found the courage to leave, I grew stronger. Finally, I decided I didn’t want to be in a committed relationship at all, so I spent eight years recovering, rediscovering who I was, and rewriting my narrative. I grew to have compassion for those men, what their story must have been to bring them to control another. I had gratitude for the lessons of patience and resourcefulness, as well as the knowledge of how strong I really was. And when I was ready to be in a relationship, it was mutual and healthy.
So how will you rewrite your story? How can you find the opportunities and lessons in what you have previously seen as negative? How have you grown because of these events? And how will you view things differently moving forward?