I have been thinking about the stories we tell ourselves. The big stories like How the World Works and Who I am, and the little stories – the ones that have to do with this very moment. Big and small, they define what is possible ruling out almost all other possibilities. I told a story to myself for years that went “I feel crummy because I was a drug addict for years, and this is just how it’s going to be. I should be grateful that I am alive.” The story is mostly true. In fact it’s close enough to the truth to keep me from questioning it. The problem with that story is that it does not leave room for change. Things are what they are and I need to accept the situation and make the best of it. There ARE some things that I need to find serenity about, but not MOST things. A better story is ““I feel crummy because I was a drug addict for years. What can I do today to make my life better? I am grateful that I am alive and I want to live life to the fullest.” THAT story actually requires me to take action – to work to make things better. It’s that story I am trying to live by today.
Even the small stories can be amazingly powerful. When I first started doing Pilates, during nearly every exercise we did I would come to a place where I would think “I can’t do this… I need to stop.” Sometimes that was true. Sometimes. With the encouragement of Elisabeth and Lee at Redbird I made the decision to just keep going and see what happens. As often as not I was able to complete the exercise, and I have definitely seen progress in both strength and flexibility as a result. The new story is “This is hard.” No “and”, just “This is hard.” So I keep going and see what happens. Once in a while I find that I need to stop, but that happens less and less as time goes on.
I have started listening for the same sort of stories in association with other things in my life as well. “That’s not enough food.” “I need a carb with dinner.” “I should be grateful that I have lost 40 lbs.” Stories based on fear, whispered in my head until they feel true. Once they feel true I base my actions on them, never getting the results I want and staying afraid in the process.
So I am trying to make a change. Is it enough food? Let’s eat it and see. Do I need a carb with dinner? Let’s leave it out and see. Yes I should be grateful for the weight I have lost, but there is more to lose. Life is an amazing thing when I really show up for it. I don’t want to miss a thing because of some dumb story.