I saw a tattoo today that was drawn to appear as if the skin were peeling away from a woman’s shoulder and underneath were written words.  And it really looked like her story was written under her skin.  We are the stories we tell ourselves, not just the stories we tell to each other.  We are the constant looping of meaning told over and over that forms our identity.  And those stories serve us in one way or another, but they don’t always sync up with reality and many times they just get in our way and can cause huge life issues.

Part of the issue is that the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, about situations that recur, about issues that we just ALWAYS seem to have is that they aren’t about logic and facts and left brain action items.  They can have facts and events in them, but they are truly about emotions.  They are strong and deeply felt emotions connected with self-worth and identity and our perspectives on life.  And they don’t change quickly, they aren’t affected by current events, in fact they alter our experience of what goes on around us so profoundly that we can seem delusional to those outside of us or seem to be so clearly confused as to not be rational.

Feelings of jealousy, of being less than others that we esteem or love, of being incapable of success in some or any endeavor can lead us to see the world in those terms.  So actions which in and of themselves are not connected with jealousy, are not meant to make us feel less than, that are supportive can seem the opposite.  Because of the stories in our head we need them to be so.  Someone who identifies with being a victim in social situations of any kind will act like a victim, not protect themselves from victimization, and will put themselves in situations where they can be victimized.  They won’t do so consciously, but with their world view, they won’t be able to do otherwise.  And if a situation arises where they are not a victim they will work to either see it as such or make that happen because that is their identity.   And no amount of self-help, logic, or common sense will help them resolve this issue until they start healing the emotions and the story that they have in their head.

The stories we tell can keep us in a constant state of flux or of stagnation. If the story we tell is that we don’t have the ability to choose or we don’t want to choose a course or a solution or a means of resolving a situation, then we have made a choice.  And the choice is to try to hold back water with our hands.  It is true that we are not moving.  We are physically going nowhere and taking no action to choose anything or resolve the matter.  However, we also trying to keep everything else around us from changing and moving on, which is impossible, and so our situation gets more dire, more chaotic and stagnant as we try valiantly to stay the way we are while everything around us shifts and changes and moves on and becomes. Meanwhile, all the options keep battering us from all sides and we ignore them trying to keep the water still.

Before pointing to external factors in life, look inside to the stories you are feeling about yourself.  What is the emotional identity you are carrying inside?  What is the ‘truth’ about you that identifies you.  What if that isn’t actually the truth?  What if that’s just a story you are clinging to?  What if you change that story? How terrifying is it to contemplate seeing yourself differently?  What if you made a little coffin and buried that story forever?  What new story could you write in your heart?