Self-Identification: The Stories we tell Ourselves

Who we tell ourselves we are, is who we are; however we identify, defines who we are. Whether you are someone who “doesn’t swear”, “cusses like a sailor”, “ doesn’t wear makeup”, or someone who “only leaves the house if you have your hair and makeup done”, you are these things (or not) because that is what you say you are. It’s not that you can’t swear, but you choose not to. Recognizing that these stories are a choice has a lot of power in creating your life story. You may not enjoy running for instance, so you choose not to run; it’s not a matter of not being able to run, or not “being a runner”, but electing not to run. Knowing you are choosing your actions and your identifiers gives you the power to change them whenever you so choose. If you give your power away and tell yourself you are, or are not, you will struggle to create change. Go ahead and say it….”FUCK”. It can be that simple to change your story.

The stories we tell ourselves impact our lives. Sometimes these stories serve a valuable purpose and can uplift us - “I am an intelligent woman” - but others only hold us back - “I’m not good enough”. We believe the stories we tell ourselves and often the stories others tell about us. When you are able to realize that the stories you choose to identify with shape your life, you will be more aware of which stories you allow to define you. Pay attention over the next few days and take note of the stories you tell. How are these stories effecting you? Do they hold you back or propel you forward? Do they help you to feel good about yourself, or are they creating feelings of lack? How can you rewrite the stories that are not serving you?

The effects our story has on us can also depend on the meaning you give it. For instance, “I am a strong woman” could be empowering, but it can also keep you from fully feeling your emotions and being kind with yourself. When you over identify with a particular story, you limit the range of experiences you might have in your life.  What do you want to do, but tell yourself you can’t? What are the positive and negative sides of your stories and how can you focus more on the positive? How can you negate the effects of the negative?

We will always act in accordance with our own self image. If you want to change your life, you need to change your story. Become the girl who lifts, the girl who tries new thing, the girl who believes in herself; become her by telling yourself you are her and taking small actions to prove it. If you want to be the girl who travels, start by going somewhere new in your city, then check out a nearby town, keep expanding outward and you will be crossing oceans in no time. Or just tell yourself you are a girl who travels and before you can talk yourself out of it, book a non-refundable flight somewhere you have always wanted to go.

The stories we tell ourselves become the stories of our lives. Realizing this, I started looking at the stories I identify with. Being a wife, daughter, friend, a fur-mom and a coach were easy enough. I tell myself I am strong and intelligent. I have stories about being a dreamer and creative thinker. I am an extroverted-introvert. I like to explore new towns and I fancy the idea of travelling the world. I subscribe to the story that I love the outdoors and enjoy hiking and camping. I believe that I am a good person. Awhile back I realized that I was also believing the stories I had told myself, or believed from others/experiences that I wasn’t good enough, that I was an idea person who didn’t follow through, that I was not pretty because I was fat and that while I wanted to be a writer and creative entrepreneur, I wasn’t cut out for success. These stories were not serving me and I realized I had to drop them faster than I’d drop a spider infested pie.

Changing your story is a process - one that begins by recognizing which stories we tell ourselves. Call them out and bring your awareness to them. Identify the stories that are working for you and those that are a hinderance. Darkness cannot survive in light; the negative stories you tell cannot survive in the light of your awareness. Stop telling the story and replace it with a plausible affirmative story. I stopped telling myself I was only an idea person and began telling myself that if I kept making small steps and completing small actions, I would be able to make my ideas reality. I stopped believing that I wasn’t good enough and started telling myself I was and I found the evidence to prove it to myself. I looked for the root of the story and in this way was able to see the madness in my ego for generating a story of “not good enough” out of those events. I stopped telling myself I was fat and unattractive and I started telling myself that I was strong, fit and healthy; in time, I even started to see and believe in my own beauty. When we spend years believing in certain stories, it will take time to believe in an alternative, but given time and commitment, your story can change. You are worth that time and effort.

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