Know Your Story to Own Your Story
We all have an image in our minds of the life that we want to live. Our ideal life. But, for us to move forward in life, towards this ideal, we have to understand the difference between ourselves and our ‘story’. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of your ‘story’, grab a cup of tea and let’s have a chat because before you can own your story you have to know what it is.
Our ‘story’ is the reality we are living each and every day, not necessarily by choice but by a paradigm we have built our lives on. In other words, it’s a reality we believe in as concrete, unshakeable and predetermined when in actual fact there is no such thing. Our stories are malleable, but only when we see them for what they are. Then, and only then, can we begin to take the steps towards creating that life that we dream of.
What is a Paradigm?
A paradigm is basically the pattern by which your life has been created, or shaped, into what you know it to be. Think of your paradigm like the process of taking a tree and shaping it to look the way you want it to. Have you ever seen how they can manipulate a tree over time so that it grows into the shape of a chair, or a heart etc. It’s incredible. But, at the end of the day manipulation is manipulation! And our paradigm works in a similar way, shaping us as we go through life.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, this paradigm we are living is usually not conscious manipulation. It is more of a subconscious molding. It is the process of, year after year, receiving the same data that slowly becomes your built in ‘program for life’. It’s like forming a habit. Year after year of witnessing a particular way of life and before you know it, you couldn’t imagine anything different. This is when you know it’s a paradigm, because you no longer question it. And, that’s where it becomes a problem. Why? Because questioning is part of having a growth mindset. You can never truly grow unless you ask questions.
Why We Believe the Story
Let’s look a little closer at our paradigm. We don’t get to just pick what influences us as we go through this life. There are hundreds of influences, some of them good, some of them bad. They are what shape the way we see the world. These range from our cultural and religious upbringings to the way we see money and the role it plays in our lives. There are influences like being the youngest, middle or oldest child (every one has it’s own ‘story’ attached to it) or the so called black sheep of the family. We come with labels, like a jacket at the store! And we slip right in and live up to those labels.
There are people who believe their role in life is to grow up to be a: farmer, doctor, shop owner, mother, wife, etc. You can insert anything you like here, depending on your own personal situation and influences. This is your ‘story’, what you have assumed your life will look like. We believe it so easily because it’s what everyone around us has always done. We have no reason to believe otherwise!
It can even show up in areas of our lives like our Star Sign. While I am fascinated by this and definitely agree with my ‘label’ of Cancer, lol, I won’t allow myself to be defined by it! I won’t decide who to love based on my star sign or believe I am an introvert/extrovert because of it. The key is to keep an open minded approach to life, always, if you want to be free to choose.
Ways our Story affects Us
The way we view ourselves affects the way we go through life. For example, if you were raised in a cash-strapped household you will find it difficult to imagine that you will ever be truly wealthy. Or, maybe you were told you’re ‘not the athletic type’ and your whole life you took this to be true. Maybe you want to be a Marine Biologist but you were told by a Teacher you don’t have what it takes. You have created a story around this that you carry with you your entire life. Can you identify an area in your life where this may be the case? Do you see how it doesn’t need to be this way?
Something that had a strong impact on my personal story was when my high school English teacher told me my vocabulary was poor. It hurt me so much (writing being my heart and soul), that I basically walked away from writing for many, many years. I accepted her story as truth and it had a lasting impact on me. What I should have done was realize that that was just her opinion. Even if it was actually a fact it shouldn’t have mattered! What matters is what writing means to me and the role it is meant to play in my story. If I had not started asking questions of my story, I would not be here today writing this. Consider where, if any, you have lived your life according to someone else’s ideas.
Choose Authenticity over Acceptance
When we remove our blinkers and start asking questions we can begin to see where we’ve been living a life of quiet acceptance. We quite often feel perfectly happy with our lives, too. There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with our lives, there’s just something missing. The problem with just going with the flow is that over time you will feel that emptiness more and more. You will begin to feel like you’ve gotten something wrong and you won’t be able to put your finger on it.
You’ve ‘accepted’ the paradigm. You’re doing what everyone expects of you instead of following your truth. But, you cannot escape the essence of who you are. If you live life according to the story that society has shaped for you, you will feel like you are not whole. It is your responsibility to your soul, in this life, to recognize it’s purpose on this journey. Living anything but your authentic story is like draining the water from the sea and wondering why the surfs so bad.
Why We Don’t Have to Live It
It only becomes a problem when the way we’ve been ‘programmed’ to see the world is actually negatively affecting us or holding us back. Sometime a person’s paradigm works perfectly for them. But, there are more of us that had a different picture in our heads than what the paradigm was allowing us to see. Our dreams were bigger, but we didn’t believe that they were possible.
This is not something intentional or hurtful in our lives. This is purely the natural effect of watching the same movie play out in front of you your whole life and never knowing there was another movie you could have chosen. We actually cannot imagine ourselves to be so audacious as to chase our dreams! We cannot imagine contemplating being a huge success! How ridiculous to believe you can start your own business or bring in an income with your passion!
Well, I know from my experience that it is possible to break free from this paradigm and begin to live your own story. And, let me tell you, it is like opening your eyes for the first time when you realize that the box only ever had 3 sides and you could have stepped out of it any old time.
Choosing a Different Movie
So, you realize maybe you would have chosen a different path if you’d given it much thought. What now? Isn’t it too late to try to rewrite your story? Honestly, I don’t think it is EVER too late to flip the script if that is what you feel called to do. If your soul is calling you to follow a different path you should do everything in your power to do that!
Whether you are young or old, it starts with a simple question. Is this the life I would have chosen for myself? If your heart responds with a no, it is time to look at where you need change. It is time to listen to that small voice and make the big choices that will lead you to your purpose driven life.
We all have different circumstances and obstacle in our way, but taking the first step will give you the courage to take the next, and then the next. Choose the life you believe you were made for. This is a case of choosing to change the channel, to pick a new movie! It means change, and change starts with a decision. Change can be tough for a lot of people, but it is the only way to move forward.
Jack Canfield said, ‘Everything you want is on the other side of fear’, and I believe this to be true. The good news is when you want something badly enough it is always worth breaking through the fear barrier.
Time to Own Your Story
What does it mean to own your story? If you feel like you would like to rewrite your story ask yourself what your new story would look like. What would it feel like, sound like? Write a headline for your life. What would it say? Stop looking back, telling yourself your story is set in stone.
Maybe you come from a family where everyone has always worked in the family business and you feel an obligation to follow in their footsteps. This would be a very emotional and tough choice, but it can be done. The same applies for someone who’s the first person in a family to go to college. It’s not easy, but it happens every day! You could be the first in your family!
Anything worthwhile doing in this life is going to take both courage and determination. Rewriting your story will be hard, but worthwhile if it means a lot to you. Having people stand in your way in life is terrible, but standing in your own way is unforgiveable. Make sure you show up for yourself and write your own story.
You are Worth the Story you Choose
Question. Is this life as concrete as you believe it to be, or is there a way that you can change it? Are you really as stuck as you feel like you are? Or, maybe you’re just a little bit afraid of that life that you dream of? Do you believe you are worthy of that story?
I believe that if there is a dream in your heart it is there for good reason. It is your calling, your purpose, and all those ‘stories’ need to be rewritten in order for you to live your truth. Think of it this way: sometimes the life we are living has kind of ‘rubbed off’ on us instead of being consciously created. Through no one’s fault we’ve kind of gotten stuck with it. Now is the time for you to take control and consciously choose.
Have a careful look at your life and where you might have been living a life more of acceptance than of authenticity. Once you’ve identified where you’ve been living a life of acceptance, that is when you choose to be brave. You make the decision to choose your own story. You, and your story are worthy of being alive in this life. Go out, and breathe life into your own story!
I hope you enjoyed the blog! Why not check out Why We Need to Practice Self-Compassion
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