I wonder what messages you might have attached to my prose poem, Bronx Child, shared with you last month. You might have felt sorry for this little girl who ate her lunch alone everyday, or you might have experienced her as an independent, self-reliant child who could take care of herself. Maybe you had a different reaction. Children aren’t rational in their story telling. They are just trying to make sense of their experiences. Whatever meaning children attach to these stories, these meanings stay rooted in our minds and have a direct influence on our behaviors as adults.
It’s so important to review your life story to see how the words you speak to yourself are enriching your life or limiting it. Anyone can change his or her life story. The first step is realizing you have one. The next step is to challenge your beliefs about it. The final step is authoring your life.
Our stories express what we believe we are and who we believe we can be. They define us. Stories can be positive. Narratives like “I’m great with kids,” or “Kids are my calling,” can inspire us, they encourage us to show up confidently and authentically in our relationships with others. Often though our stories have less positive effects. Stories like “People always let me down,” become self-fulfilling prophecies. They convince us we’ll never get what we want. They are absolute.
It’s important to see your story. Look at the life you’ve created and the patterns that have played out. What are the most meaningful moments? Write them down.
If you find a pattern where you are habitually putting yourself down that may signal a story of unworthiness and this limits and disempowers you. Write down those negative patterns as well.
Examine what you’ve written down and challenge your thoughts to see which of them reflects who you are now and who you’d like to be.
Begin writing your new autobiography incrementally. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Small steady actions are more effective than big dramatic affirmations. Create a reasonable story that you can grow into.
Caution: Stress will make us more vulnerable to negative thinking, likely to fall back into old patterns. The moment you hear an old story rumbling around in your head, STOP LISTENING! Do something different, helpful and healthy. Remember my favorite saying: “In times of stress we all regress!”