This is a blog about stories. I’m not talking about “once upon a time” or “happily ever after” (though I do love those sorts of stories). Rather, I’m talking about the unwritten stories, the ones that are, for most of us, locked deep in our subconscious and play out day after day.
These are the stories we tell ourselves, the stories that define our realities and determine how we live our lives.
Diabetes runs in my family so I’m probably going to end up a diabetic at some point. I’m addicted to junk food. I don’t make friends or develop close relationships easily. I’m not athletic; I could never run a 5k or join a recreational softball team. I’m not the kind of person who takes big risks. I like to be comfortable.
These stories have everything to do with our health and happiness.
It was Gandhi who said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”
Our beliefs, which are developed throughout life in response to various events, shape the choices we make and the outcomes of our lives. Perhaps your parents divorced when you were a child, and the resulting belief is that marriage doesn’t work. Perhaps you weren’t the star pupil in gym class, and you’ve come to believe you aren’t athletic and therefore should avoid exercise at all costs. Or maybe no one in your family ate vegetables routinely, and when they were offered, comments were made about them being a “chore” to eat, thus giving you the belief that veggies are gross and difficult to enjoy.
Many times, our stories are inherited, passed down from generation to generation. This is generally true for our attitudes about food, exercise, relationships, spirituality, work, education, and money. But what I find most empowering about stories is that they can be rewritten.
To rewrite our stories, we first must become aware of them. We must tune into our beliefs and pay attention to how they affect our words and actions. Otherwise, it’s like editing an essay that hasn’t yet been written.
Once we are conscious of how our stories go, then when can rewrite them.
Diabetes runs in my family so I’m making good choices everyday to protect my health. I love how healthy foods fuel my body. I have a lot to offer in friendships and relationships; I add value to each person who comes into my life. I am an athlete; I complete 5k runs and play on the local softball team and feel strong and empowered in my body. I enjoy putting myself out there, taking risks, and getting out of my comfort zone in able to grow and contribute more to this world.
Our self-efficacy, confidence, and ability to create the life we love while breaking free of one in which we feel stagnant (or worse, stuck) depend on us rewriting these stories. This process is not easy, and requires much self-reflection and honesty, but it is one of the most critical steps to true change.