The Stories We Tell

I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember. Haven’t you? I devoured the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books as soon as I was able to read. I wrote my first poem at age 7 and got chastised regularly by the insane nun who taught 6th grade for “pretending to read those big books” I brought in each week for Silent Sustained Reading (SSR, my favorite hour of school). Once she even picked up the book I was reading, Clan of the Cave Bear, and threw it across the room thereby ruining the only pleasant hour of school I’d have that week.But I was not dismayed.

I would have my stories and NO ONE would take them away from me.

Trouble is, many of the stories I worshiped so loyally were the ones I’d made up myself…about myself. And they’d been written so long ago, before I was able to understand that I/Me was a separate entity from the world around I/Me.

We have a very difficult time grasping this before we’re old enough. We begin to get it around age 4 but don’t have a full understanding until around age 7. Anything that happens around us before that time, we assume has to do with us: Because of us.

My home was not a peaceful one when I was very young. And I was babysat regularly by an alcoholic uncle who was quite troubled. I was loved dearly by many, but that didn’t protect me from the sometimes-harsh world we all live in.

So I gathered a lot of information from my first few years on Earth and wrote some very important stories about it all:

  • You are not safe.
  • You are weak.
  • Life will always hurt you.
  • You are bad.
  • You do not deserve love.
  • Men are stronger and better than you.
These stories were written to make sense out of the senseless.

They were written to protect my Self from pain and unraveling. And for 30+ years, I held onto them like they were my only true salvation. In return for my loyalty, these stories held me in depression, self-doubt and failure…where I’d be most comfortable.

Until somebody, somewhere, at some point finally told me I could re-write them. I didn’t believe them at the time, so deep had I fallen in love with these stories. But I knew the affair had to end, it was slowly killing me. So I tried it.

  • I am safe.
  • I am strong.
  • Life is good to me.
  • I am perfect, whole and complete.
  • I deserve love and pleasure.
  • Men are the same as me, no better, no worse.

Over and over and over again. I had to repeat these new stories to my Self. I STILL have to repeat them, lest I forget. 30+ years of the old version takes more than a few months (or years) to undo.

But little by little, I began to see a change. The young child still hiding inside slowly began to believe these new stories. She started to peek her head out of the darkness and take another look around. She began to feel the safety, protection and love she had been longing for all these decades. And she became willing to share these hidden parts of herself with you.

Are there any stories lurking in your corners that need a good re-write? I’d bet my next paycheck there are. Why not start today? Leave a comment and let’s get to writin’!

26 thoughts on “The Stories We Tell”

  1. So. Many. Stories.
    I think it’s why I fell so madly in love with coaching; it was the first time I got I could create and write new stories!

    I think we would have been friends as little girls. I used to take out the maximum number of books allowed at the library and spend my weekends reading :)

    1. I KNOW we would’ve been friends as little girls…oh, the fun we’d have had! So grateful we’re friends now 🙂

  2. You obviously see the power in words and stories. So glad you saw you could re-write yours.

    It’s easy to give lip-service to change. Many make it seem like it’s a matter of simply deciding to do so. But the act of putting a pen to paper, or fingers to a keyboard and literally writing/typing those words that re-write our story is all it takes.

    I know.

    1. That’s the key, the act of re-writing, and repeating, these stories. Simple but not always easy…unlike the lip service you mention 🙂

      1. The power is in the repeating. I was unpacking one of the many many boxes from our “downsizing” move in September the other day. In it, a notebook from 2003 that I had all but forgotten, wherein I outlined a plan for my life through 2005. Many of those things had come to fruition – but not until after the date. And the things that haven’t yet? I haven’t been reminding myself how important they are – and how they are part of my new truth.
        So I’m making a point of repeating, rehearsing, and recreating that new truth so that it can be reality soon.

    2. I love that you’re calling out the hollow-word-speakers, Jesse. Action is vital.

      I think it may be semantics, in the end.

      To me it *is* simply deciding, but the trick comes when we realize what a “decision” is.

      I find this Tony Robbins quote sums it up nicely…

      “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” – Tony Robbins

      Just a thought.

  3. I’m currently writing my story Jenny, and part of it is exactly what you said here! Through life and experience, I had begun to embrace what something outside had convinced me I was. Eventually I clung to those things so desparately, I had a sort of an intimacy with those thoughts that didn’t allow other stuff in. As I look back, I never resonated with the negative stuff, but I felt like if I didn’t believe it, I’d be exposed to the world as a fool. It kept me stuck for a long time. It exhausted me and that has been the turning point.

    1. It really does feel like a powerfully intimate relationship we have with our stories. I was just SO happy to discover that we can fall just as madly in love with the re-writes!

  4. Jenny, my dear, what a lovely article. I recently posted a vlog wherein I told a story. Frankly it was only semi-popular, but whatever.

    My brother Marty, on the other hand, evidently finds something cathartic in telling the story about how when he and my other brother Anthony were children (this was
    before I was born) they were riding in the backseat of the car
    with my mother, who was driving down a humpbacked dirt road on her way
    to pick up the milk (we used to get milk from a farm about nine miles
    from where we lived). As my Marty tells it, when they turned off
    onto the dirt road with the dips, he said to my mother: “Mom, mom!
    Speed up when you go over the bumps because it makes our balls tingle.” In response to which — and, for the record, Marty regards this as the high point of the entire story — Cecilia, our mother, slowed down.

    1. I have to agree with Marty. I’m just glad I wasn’t drinking my coffee when I read “…our mother, slowed down.” Poor woman lol, what else could she do?

  5. This is exactly what I need to do. The old stories are no longer serving me well. They are keeping me in victim mode. I’m slowly beginning to rewrite them, but, as you say, it is going to take time…

    1. Yes, ‘victim mode’, exactly. And the Universe seems to oblige us if we want to stay in that mode…speaking from my own experience. Maybe that should be the next post 😉 Keep re-writing Dorothy! You’ve lots of support here xoxo

    2. I agree with Jenny, Dorothy. You are totally on the right track, and UpYourImpact is a really supportive community.

      There are stories everywhere! Even:

      “I’m slowly beginning to re-write them…it is going to take time.” is a story 🙂

      Did you notice?

      Anyway, a story I like to tell, for me, is:

      “Normal, standard, easy progress for me — is what other people consider legendarily fast and impressive. I breathe easy and accept their praise with a chuckle because I’m comfortable with explosive growth in my life.”

  6. So glad I swung by, Jenny. It’s been awhile, but here you are rocking it as usual, way to make an impact 🙂

    I totally agree, and I love it. I also (synchronously) just wrote a post on a powerful-but-different aspect of stories: http://ryzeonline.com/success-is-a-story-and-youre-telling-it-wrong

    I’d like to add something to what you wrote, that I’ve found to be very important.

    We are using words to blog, and using words in our stories, and talking of transforming or re-writing words… but it’s all pretty ineffective if the words are hollow.

    There’s a difference between writing “I am safe” and feeling “In this moment, I am deeply safe; at peace in front of my computer, taking in wisdom from Jenny, and breathing the nourishing oxygen all around me, none of this stuff did I really have to ‘earn’ or ‘justify’ or ‘fight for’ – I. Am. Safe.”

    Thawtz?

    1. That’s such an important piece…staying in the moment where the Truth is revealed to us. We really ARE perfect, whole and complete here, right now. It’s only in our past recollections and future assumptions that our perfection and interconnection starts to fade.

      Always makes me smile when you stop by, Jason, thank you!

      1. Amen, Jenny. Re-writing stories is weak-sauce if we’re not *feeling* their truth.

        I see myself as a pretty uplifting guy, so the smiles suits

        And I really appreciate that you clicked the link, checked out my post on stories, and left such a fantastic comment!

        Ballin’!

  7. Dear Jenny, your uncle, my father, taught us men were stronger than us, and might is right? My path included some unhappy places, but over all I can say all the adventuresthe rebel in meenjoyed made that path one to remember. I told myself early on that I could rise above it all, but little did I know how repressed the early years truly were till later. The mind has its tricks to allow for surviaval. Only recently I came to the realization that I had been affected as deeply as I was. Today is a new day, I am a new person also. I have deep beauty within me, and am able to express that beauty in words and with my knotty fingers. My art gives me joy along with each breath. As long as I am allowed, I will treasure.

    1. Your inner beauty certainly shines through your message, Cecilia. Thank you so very much for being willing to share your journey here with us. I do believe we’ve traveled similar paths to get to where we are right now, and for that I am eternally grateful.

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