There are stories that we were told when we were little. Some of the most memorable moments of our collective childhood could be when our parents read us stories. Growing up we also learned stories about how to live our lives, what life is all about, how to be in relationship, how to get our needs met, the list goes on and on.
We are still told stories. Societally, we are immersed in them; stories about what life is about. The media and corporations have stories for us. Companies spend millions on learning how to influence us. We are constantly being told what to think, what to want, what to strive for; these all are stories that we may be listening to.
For pretty much the entire history of the human race, stories have been used to pass on from generation to generation memory, history (herstory), identity, and meaning. We can find our identity in stories. Take this interview I listened to the other day of Harold R. Johnson and the story about the lazy, dirty, drunken Indian story. Nowadays stories can be told to make us buy a certain product or to desire a certain way of life. Sometimes stories evolve organically without an active design in mind. Take the story of aging. If you were to try to describe what aging means, what it entails and what it looks like, you’d likely include a storyline that as you age, you can’t do things that you could when you were young. Your body doesn’t work as well as it used to. You get sick more often. You become frail and dependent.
My intention in writing this article is not to tell you what story is the best one for you to adopt. The key is that you pay attention to what stories you’ve been “listening to” in your subconscious mind. Be aware of what stories you believe. What story or stories you hold will determine how much energy you have access to. If your story says getting old sucks, guess how you end up feeling? And if you choose a different story, you can access more energy, more creativity, more inspiration. You can use your creativity, passion and joy to create a new set of stories to live by. And by focusing your energy in this direction, life will play along with you and “guide” you to new insights and new opportunities.
Check out this video of these women who have created a new story for themselves about aging and about life:
Take a look at what stories may be playing themselves out in your life. Sometimes they are so familiar, they feel like an old sweater, old, tattered but sooo comfortable. Sometimes they are so familiar, we can’t see them. The story has become your reality. Ask yourself if the stories you have give you energy, take energy away or if the story keeps you energy neutral. Energy neutral is like Goldilocks’ porridge, not too hot, not too cold, but just right. Does the story help you grow or move towards the kind of life you want? Does it hold you and your life in place? Does the story drain you of energy over time? One story that has been draining and prominent in my life has been a story of obligation. I hear myself saying and thinking: I have to do this, I must pay attention to that, I should …. For me it’s really a story of “life is hard, sigh” and the best way to fulfill that story is to feel obligated. In a strange way, this story of obligation creates a cycle of feeling obligated, doing because I feel I must, or should or have to and then feeling super tired and run down. I then get sick with a cold or flu so I have to rest (not want to rest), and then I’m back to doing out of a sense of obligation in order to maintain the story “life is hard, long deep sigh”.
So I’ve been practicing a different story! And since I’ve been practicing, I’ve noticed I have more energy and I enjoy myself so much more. I am able to notice when I’m playing the old story sooner and I’m able to switch tracks, laugh at myself and carry on. One of the main ways I notice which story I’m playing is by noticing my breath, how I’m breathing, especially if I hear myself let out a long sigh lol. And it’s not just the fact that I have the knowledge of the stories and how they show up in my life. Knowledge and awareness by themselves are not enough for us to change the story; feeling like we deserve better and more out of life is really the key to changing stories. Whether we want to change a personal story or a family story or a cultural story, the change starts with us.