— Life —

THE STORIES WE TELL OURSELVES

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Regardless of where we are in life, we all have stories that have played in our heads since childhood. I’m not talking about fairytales and fantasies but our version of our life. Notice I said “version” because your viewpoint may be different from your parent’s or sibling’s. In some respects we make sense of our life through our stories… our history. Take my mother, for example. Whether she was talking about the past, present or future, mother always chose to paint herself as the victim.

She didn’t know it, but her stories played a major role in the stories I told myself and who I became.

One of my earliest stories was that I was an overprotected only child, the product of a strict distant father and a mother who wanted to keep me wrapped in swaddling clothes until I collected Social Security. A big part of me bought into mother’s “my sickly, asthmatic kid” story, but when I was 12 and we role reversed, I threw that story out with the Easter Bunny. By the time I started my freshman year of college, I told myself I could do anything.

Even in the early days of trying on my new “healthy and brave” story, I knew it was designed to make me the polar opposite of my mother. My secret, wanna’ be tuff-girl became a self-fulfilling prophesy. It was the bravado that kept me from crumbling in the midst of a back alley abortion, or giving up my university scholarship and taking a job as a waitress so I could get away from mother and have my own apartment while I paid for night classes at a junior college. On some level I knew, even then, I could go to Hell and back and keep on going. The only thing that mattered was I’d become the antithesis of mother’s little girl who wasn’t allowed to go barefoot or play outside.

Most of you know me only from my blog, and yet you share the most intimate times of your life. I hope you know how honored I am and how courageous I think your are.

The stories we tell ourselves can be our saving grace or, like my mother, our own worst enemies. What are the stories you tell yourself that have shaped your life? Perhaps they served you well in the past, but is it time to let them go? If so, what’s stopping you from writing a new one?

Maybe you need help crafting a new story with a different ending. What if you start by asking yourself:

Where do you see yourself a year, five years or 10 years from now, and what kind of courage or change of circumstances will it take to get there? Perhaps the real question is how will you feel if you don’t rewrite your story?

Love, Brenda

12 Comments

  • Reply holly May 6, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Ooo, Brenda! This is so thought provoking. Today is cool and quite overcast in Southern California. We call it May-Gray and perfect for this kind of ruminating. So as I walk my dogs, run my errands and sip my evening wine, I will let those questions tumble through my mind and heart to find my answers. Thank you for this gift of self-refection.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace May 7, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      Thank you, Holly! If only my puppies were old enough for an easy walk where I could do some reflecting! My quiet moments come in spurts, in-between keeping Annie and Lulu from chewing everything I own!

  • Reply Barbara May 6, 2017 at 10:54 am

    I started building a brick wall around my emotions at a very early age. I remember hearing my grandmother say to someone, “I’m not sure she’ll ever let anybody in.” I was 8 at the time. The brick has gradually disintegrated over many years but the thin layer of stucco still remains. I’m writing my memoir and it has been helpful in gaining perspective. Sometimes we don’t really know our true selves.
    Thanks for this thought provoking post!
    xob

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace May 7, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      A hypnotherapist I used to see said our “unconscious mind” knows everything. It knows our true selves and protects our conscious mind from knowing things we can’t handle… Talk about thought provoking! xoxox, Brenda

  • Reply Carol ("Mimi") May 6, 2017 at 11:20 am

    You were smart and perceptive at a young age to realize that you needed to reject your mother’s story and write one of your own. Kudos to you! I’m sure you’ve had an emotionally healthier adult life because of it.

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace May 7, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      I just knew I didn’t want to be like my mother. I wanted to be strong enough to handle anything that came my way, and so far, I have been. Thank you, Mimi!

  • Reply Janice Person May 6, 2017 at 11:51 am

    It is amazing how we hear the stories of our mothers and how much those stories can help shape ourselves — either embracing them or rejecting that for ourselves, or a combination of those things. I know for me I saw things in the various stories around me as I made choices and still tell myself a story now and then!

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace May 7, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      It’s sometimes hard to filter out the negative stories we’ve grown up with and know what to believe whether it’s about ourselves or someone else. Thank you!

  • Reply Barbara May 7, 2017 at 6:17 am

    Sometimes our mom’s stories are gooduns too. My mom always told me stories of hard work and good play. They became my stories too. Brenda, your message is an important one, especially for those bringing up their own kids now. It’s so easy to get sucked into The negative narrative, both in the hearing as well as telling. Kids are impressionable. Tell them the good stuff!

  • Reply 1010ParkPlace May 7, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    I love your comment, Barbara! Yes, please tell kids good things about themselves and other people and let’s teach them to think for themselves. I’m amazed at how many people don’t want their children taught critical thinking skills. They interpret that as teaching them “what” to think instead of “the process of analyzing information and making their own decisions.”

  • Reply Esther Zimmer May 8, 2017 at 2:57 am

    Brenda, I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you that I absolutely love this! I know how powerful those stories we’re told, but particularly the ones we tell ourselves, can be. How amazing that you figured this out at such a young age! Essie xx

    • Reply 1010ParkPlace May 10, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      In defense of my emotionally distant father, he showed me what strong was which helped underscore that I didn’t want to be like my mother. For that, I thank him. xoxox, Brenda

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