I have a story. You have a story. We all have a story. The question is, are we writing the story we want people to read? Is it fact or fiction? Are we trying to sell ourselves on a story that is not describing our true and authentic selves?
This could be and more than likely is what has held or is holding us back from living up to our fullest potential. Everyone has a story. We are so quick to tell it. I have done it. Shit, I have shouted from the roof tops stories of myself that were not congruent of who I wanted or aspired to be. I told stories that were not exemplary of my authentic self. The ugly truth, however, is that most of us and most of the time we are telling the wrong stories. We are subconsciously doing it and our mind is trying to sell us on them. Trust me, those are not the bestsellers.
We tell the stories of how bad we had it or how hard we struggled. We tell the stories of how we are fat, poor, unworthy, lonely, and well, just utter pieces of shit. We tell them so often. As a hairstylist that has heard many of my clients' deepest darkest secrets (me and your bartender), I have heard them played like broken records. The more we tell ourselves these stories, the more they get reinforced. We are creating the belief that we do not deserve happiness, success, abundance, relationships that matter, good health, abs, or whatever our desires may be. What we need to realize is that we still hold the pen. We are the authors of our stories, yet we are choosing to publish the words of negativity more so than the words of affirmation we so need for ourselves.
Think of a time in your life that someone tried to tell you something about yourself, and had you believed it, your life could and would have turned out differently. Good or bad.
That moment is the time you took that pen, and you wrote YOUR story. What was the narrative portrayed? Was it fact or fiction? Did you follow their script or your own?
For years I was told I would never amount to anything becoming a hairdresser and not attending "real school". Constantly, I was questioned on my decision. I felt judged. I was a straight A student (minus gym), graduating in the top 15% of my class. I could have done and been anything in life. How was that good enough? Did I not already prove I could "amount" to something? Here I was, off to become a measly hairdresser. I was going to be a loser, forever living on scraps and in shitty apartments. And good heavens, no respectable man would want that! I may as well had just stuck to the bottom of the barrel scums of boyfriends while I was just cutting hair.
However, I chose not to write that story. In fact, I wrote the complete opposite and despite that false narrative being written about and for me. I am successful. I knew I would be. I wrote that down for my damn self, right from the start. I am talented. I am rich in finances and in love. I have my own business, retirement, and live in a house ten times the size of my first apartment. I have an amazing partner who has the same drive and perseverance as myself who values me and what I bring to the relationship as a partner and mother. And guess what? I am judged for all of that too. I am okay with that for I am living my authentic life.
Each of us have hundreds of empty pages in our life's book. We can rewrite our story- a hundred times over if we want to. We can start to write words that describe who we truly are, what we deserve, who we aspire to be, and what good we bring to the world. But we must let go of the pages these others have written for us. From this day forward, we have the right to be the sole author of our book- not society, your friends, peers, or your mom. They will hate. Surely, they will judge. No matter what story you choose to write, there will forever and always be critics.
What makes us continue to write the plagiarized or false narrative of our own selves? What is stopping us from writing our own stories in our own words?
It is having to put in the work of healing our past traumas, insecurities, and limiting beliefs. It is the dread of familiarizing yourself and becoming more comfortable with vulnerability. It is, in fact, arduously attempting to reach for the perfectionism. It is the ongoing fear of failure.
In my years of therapy, I have had to tame the lions of my past traumas and limiting beliefs- those from my family upbringing, childhood, relationships, work environments and so forth. I have had to learn to be comfortable in being uncomfortable and to learn from and push past my past. I have had to allow myself to feel my feelings and communicate them in order to let go. I could not write my own story without letting go of the pages written by others. I had to learn not to try to “fix” or perfect my life. I had to learn not to let others try to perfect or control me or my dictate life either.
Perfectionism is a word not one person can fully understand. We think perfectionism correlates with being our best selves. We are quick to judge others for not living up to our definition of perfect either. In fact, perfectionism is the complete opposite of striving for a better version of ourselves or themselves. Perfectionism is a defense mechanism we use to barricade our true selves. We also use it to self-deflect. If we look perfect, do perfect, act perfect, then we are perfect. We feel as if we become "perfect" then we can minimize shame, judgement, blame, or feeling unloved or "not-enough". Yet, our idea of perfectionism causes us to shame, judge, blame, and withhold love. Perfectionism does not describe us as striving to be our best selves and stifles others. It is a method of self-protection. It is not telling your true story or allows others’ stories to be heard.
I once was a perpetual control freak, overthinker, micromanager, anxiety ridden, perfectionist. Still to this day I must be mindful of those tendencies as they will rear their ugly little heads from time to time especially when less-than-desirable circumstances happen. I get sucked into the stories others write for me during these times of high stress. I have to almost hit my knuckles with a ruler like a nun at Sunday school to snap back to the story I want and desire to write for myself. I have been a victim of living in a very codependent lifestyle as a widow of an alcoholic husband and a daughter and sister of a very enmeshed family. And I too have been judgmental and controlling of others- knowingly or unknowingly. It was a learned behavior to cope, protect, and survive.
Once we became old enough and cognitive enough to notice false beliefs, we started writing our books with the feeling of- “oh, this must be perfect.” However, we can choose not to continue that narrative and rewrite our stories to include what we truly and utterly desire. We have to cut people and things from our lives that no longer serve us and in order to find our own path to greatness- our own greatness.
What are we afraid of? Fear of the unknown? Fear of failure?
We are already failing at living up to our fullest potential, finding the man of our dreams, or landing that successful job by living in our limited beliefs. Could we really fail at writing our own stories for our own selves?
Let us first start writing the story of how we master the art of vulnerability and then, show ourselves some grace. If we can do that, when we mess up or “fail” we only need to write that it was all a part of the journey- to learn and to be able to craft the best version of ourselves and our life.
Brene Brown’s definition of vulnerability is:
The definition of vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. But vulnerability is not weakness; it is our most accurate measure of courage. When the barrier is our belief about vulnerability, the question becomes: ‘Are we willing to show up and be seen when we cannot control the outcome?’ When the barrier to vulnerability is about safety, the question becomes: “Are we willing to create courageous spaces so we can fully be seen?’
It is courageous to be living life. We never know what each day will bring. We cannot predict the outcomes of situations, experiences, risks, or behaviors of others. It is especially courageous to live the life we set out to live. We must show intention and stand true in the face of the unknown. You are bold in choosing your path- in any direction you choose to go. You are brave in writing your story. Did you hear me? You are courageous. You are bold. You are brave. You kick fucking ass.
Start with that narrative. See how your new story unfolds. Simple affirmations you gift yourself may change your whole plot. Show yourself grace. Forgive yourself for falling prisoner of the story of you, written by others. Forgive your mess, mistakes, shortcomings, and your past.
Our need to be in control, to orchestrate the perfect scenario for every journey of our lives, breeds anxiety in our hearts. -Emily Ley, Grace Not Perfection
Starting now, forgive yourself for writing a story that did not quite fit you or your desire to live your best life.
Enjoy the journey and the entire process of writing YOUR story. Whatever it is that you strive for, know it is for you and for you to live your most authentic life. When you begin to write your own story, there will be something extraordinary that happens. You will believe you are worthy, lovable, successful, and well, sexy. You will reinforce how amazing you and your life are. You will manifest greatness in your life. Good people and experiences will start to fill your space.
Would you want to read that story?
All our stories are forever changing. They are fluid. They will forever have the ups and downs, the trials, and tribulations. That is what makes each of our stories so impeccably interesting. Be clear of how you want your story to be and how you want it perceived and read. Your mind and your story will help you get what you want, reach your dreams, and to put the two middle fingers up to anybody who is not serving as the main character in your play.
You are the author of your own story.