The Stories We Tell Ourselves

“The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.” – Pema Chodron

I greatly admire Pema Chodron. Her advice and presentation of Buddhist thought has helped me immensely. One of the lessons that she often gives that resonates with me the most is that we tell ourselves stories in our minds. Stories about people, situations, and circumstances, and even about ourselves. It’s the stories about ourselves that often cause the most damage.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t my own worst enemy. The stories that I tell myself are, more often than not, incredibly damning. And to make matters worse, the stories in my head aren’t always fictional. Sometimes they’re biographical. Stories from the past about where I went wrong where I’ve failed seem to be bestsellers in my head. They’re on the top shelf, along with stories about shame and guilt from the past. One little thing goes awry. Something doesn’t according to plan, or a negative thought happens or I say something wrong, and next thing I know I’m ten pages into the story of how much my Life sucks and how there’s nothing I can do to fix it.

But I’m beginning to learn to rewrite the stories in my mind. Meditation helps a lot. I’ll be sitting on my cushion just breathing and trying not to get hooked on the thoughts that fly by, and suddenly I find myself trapped in a drama of misery. At that point I really have to kick into practice mode and breath: in, out, let it go, let it go.Learning not to identify with every thought I have, good, bad, ugly, or otherwise, has helped me begin to rewrite my inner dramas into more…inspirational work.

You can do it, too. If I can learn, then you can learn to rewrite your own stories. I think a lot of it begins with telling yourself that those stories aren’t true. You are not your past. You are not dirty, or guilty, or shameful, or any of the myriad of judgments you place on yourself. That’s not who you are. You are kindness, compassion, strength, love, truth. You’re beautiful. Hell, you’re awesome. And your Life is awesome. And if you can learn to just take a breath, in and out, and tell yourself everything you are that’s good and that everything that’s bad isn’t you, you’ll have written a brand news story in no time at all.

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