We’ve all got stories – stories we have written and rewritten to give our lives context and meaning. These are the narratives we can point to and say – “this is why”. Some stories we know quite well, while other stories are dictating our path without even realizing it. Some of our stories serve to move us forward but there are often many stories that actually hold us back.
One example of those debilitating stories for me is “I’m not athletic, I could never run a long distance like all those other people I see easily gliding along the river pathway like gazelles with the sun on their face and the wind at their backs.” It wasn’t until a few years ago when I found myself running a half marathon after a coaching challenge that I realized I could no longer tell this story.
In an attempt to overcome the current stories in my life that seem to hinder my joy and progress as a self employed coach and workshop facilitator, I’ve been asserting that I get to write a new story; a story that supports the bigger vision for my life than I’ve held thus far. I shared this with my coach and she shared this following passage with me:
“Stories are like boxes we build around ourselves to give us structure, identity, security, and familiarity. We are attached to them even when they are traumatic and painful, because they feel so much part of us. Although breaking the box open would give an immense freedom, the resistance is great since outside that box we feel unprotected and so different to who we believe we are, that we desperately keep it intact."
I never understood why anyone, including myself, would be so committed to a story that is traumatic or painful but reading this it all made sense. Without those stories, who would I be? My story is my identity so who am I without it? It’s just too damn scary outside of my story.
Who am I without my story?
But when I posed this question to myself, I heard myself asking back, Who am I with it? And the answer I gave myself was not a pleasant one. The story I cling to is of a woman I don’t want to be – full of self-doubt and ruled by fear.
So logically, the answer is to write a new story but then I realized, would I not just be creating another construct in which to put myself?
I don’t want to write a story within the limits of what I can imagine. I want to stop defining and deciding what life looks like and begin surrendering to the uncertainty and possibility of every moment.
Life is in the moment. We are only now. We are not in the stories we replay from our past and we are not in the stories we long to write for our future. We are only now. What is possible when we stop recreating the stories of our past and simply let each moment be unwritten. Every day is a blank page but we live like every page is already written.
What stories are you still living in today? What stories are you still recreating in an attempt to come up with a different ending? Can you leave those stories on the shelf and open a new book to a fresh new page and courageously wait to see what will be written when you surrender and allow the narrative to unfold for you?