What stories are you telling yourself… about yourself?
We all have a narrative to our life. Things ‘happen’ to us. Major life events shift and shape the story line. Tragedy, death, divorce. Milestones like a graduation, huge job promotion, or birth of a child stand out like highlighted pop-up bubbles on our timeline. Huge swaths of color coded memories mark each era of our life.
But what if the story of our life is only that, a fabricated, inferred figment of our own imagination?
“But that stuff actually happened to me,” people say.
“My grandfather did die on the beach during a family vacation when I was 8. My parents did almost divorce when I was in elementary school. I did get screwed out of a paid scholarship position in college I deserved more than the recipient.”
People are great at clinging to the unfair, defining moments of life. They share and retell the same limiting beliefs about themselves over and over. These ingrained responses (stories) and conclusions about the past shape people’s present, and therefor their future.
Ok, I’m people.
Those are actual factual events from my life. But facts are only part of the truth. How you perceive, respond, and move forward with what has happened to you will direct the tone, message, and overall theme of your ‘story’.
I recently came to the realization I’ve been lying my whole life.
“I don’t really like concerts. Crowds aren’t my thing,” I often tell people. I one hundred percent believed this story I’d concocted about myself, until I realized evidence to the contrary proved opposite.
It is true I don’t like big crowds, but as a person who has attended 14 concerts and counting, how could I continue to say I don’t like concerts when I keep going back!?
Next straight up lie…
“I hate traveling. I’m just a small town girl, I’ve never been anywhere.”
Again, untrue and not true.
I repeated this lie to myself and others when explaining why I was the way I was… Afraid of travel and anxious about going new places.
I also believed my own story that I had never been anywhere ‘significant’ before. I felt like I was stuck in a small town existence never experiencing world travel or other cultures.
And yet…. I’ve been a TON of places!
My childhood was filled with dozens of travel adventures. Even before I can remember I was rocked to sleep on my fathers chest with the ocean imprinting a whisper lullaby into my soul.
Parents, siblings, friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins frequently vacationed together. I grew up visiting beaches all over Florida, bi-annual trips to Gatlinburg, TN. every summer and fall, living a child’s dream being handed envelopes of cash to blow on books, souvenirs, and go-carts.
We took random adventures to baseball games in St. Louis and Chicago, visited museums, amusement parks, shopping malls and outlets, spent Spring Breaks spent in state booking near-by hotels with swimming pools just for the fun of it.
Airplane rides and road trip memories etch irreplaceable experiences in my heart and mind.
I’ve spent a lot of resources, time, and money replicating this very kind of magical childhood experience for my own offspring.
So why do I find myself frequently spouting off the same old tired story of, ‘Traveling makes me anxious. I don’t enjoy road trips.’
EVEN THOUGH I DO.
I obviously do, or I wouldn’t continue to subject myself to them over and over again. I’ve chosen to provide my own kids with as many enchanting encounters as I grew up with. In their first ten years of life they experienced more memorable trips than my husband did his entire childhood and adult life combined.
Here is where I figured out the root of my fictional story.
When I met my husband, I was an 18 years old college freshman still living at home. I felt like he was so much more experienced than I was having lived and traveled the world with his military family. While I’d lived in the same house since childhood, he’d lived and grown up in faraway places like Germany, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina. Places I’d never been.
My ‘limited experiences’ in life made me feel inferior to his ‘cultured’ existence. Stories about reality I made up in my head. You know what he rarely had? Travel just for the sake of it, hotel stays down the street just for the fuck of it, large family vacations.
I judged his life experience against mine.
I let comparison color the way I viewed and told my own story.
Comparison is a secret sabotaging key that locks down acceptance of our own truths.
Contrasting our own life against someone else’s squelches the validity of our actual experience. When we replace the reality with a made up story in our head, we lose the drive and desire for a happier, more accurate representation of our life.
I also just recently realized I’ve traveled a lot in my less than 40 years on this earth!?
When did that wanderlust turn into anxiety and denial?
Why did I let fear overshadow all the growth that happens when we travel?
Traveling is a state of mind.
Anything from psychically going across town to simply taking a grandiose gander though your own mind counts. It’s venturing out of the familiar into the unknown and accepting anything encountered on the road to right now as meaningful. People, places, and encounters purposefully placed in our path by a source greater than us. Existing purely for enjoyment and enlightenment.
I was selling myself the same hum-drum depressed and anxious world view the media and society often portrays and wants us to believe. The world is a scary place. Danger is lurking in every super market, airport, concert, church, school, because well it is, but you don’t have to live your life being afraid of the unknown.
If you can flip your fear into excitement, anxiety doesn’t have a chance to take hold and hi-jack your brain down the tracks of doom and gloom scenarios. If you can trust things happen in life as they are supposed to, always for your highest good, a positivity train can take off in your brain. As you start expecting wonderful experiences, that is what you attract and receive, versus a fearful one.
As you experience travel, adventure, or simply everyday life, it feels so much better to expect a good time than sit around frozen in fear future casting a disastrous one.
There’s no need to lie to yourself or make up silly stories about the meaning of your experiences anymore.
Reality is ready to take you on the best ride of your life, if you choose to co-create it that way.