Friday, November 29, 2013

Being Stuck in Your Story

Today is Friday, November 29, 2013.

The other day I read an article that asked, "Are you stuck in a story?"  What the author was talking about was being stuck in a rut, but I like the metaphor of a "story" rather than a "rut," because it offers more of a clue to why we get stuck in the first place.  

Each of us has a story.  In fact, we have more than one as we go through life.  Our stories put the events and experiences of our lives into a context.  They reflect our perception of the world and our beliefs about ourselves.  Our stories can make it easy for us to change or keep us chained in negative, repetitive cycles.  

Some stories can be summarized as, "I'm a klutz" or "I'm not important."  Other negative stories sound like, "I'm so ugly" or "Nobody loves me."  We keep doing things that allow ourselves to "prove" that our stories are true, and we unconsciously draw into our lives people who are willing to help us sustain our illusions.

It doesn't even matter how the story started in the first place.  We waste a lot of time pinning blame on others for our stories.  What we should be asking ourselves is whether the story serves us at the present time.  It may have served in the past, but if it no longer serves us, it needs to go.  

There is a lot of advice out there about how to get "unstuck," but what they all have in common is the idea that we need to start looking at the situation from a different perspective.  Instead of seeking to fix blame on someone else for our problems, it's more productive to look at ourselves and how we are reacting to the situation.  Why are we reacting this way?  What "story" about ourselves are we enacting?  

Once we identify our story and the ways in which we continue to act it out, we can decide to change our part.  When we do this, others will have to change their parts, too.  Some people will drop out of our lives, because they are unwilling to make the change, while new people will enter our lives.  Some people will change along with us, even if they complain a bit.

The point is this: We are the authors of our own misfortunes.  Rather than blaming others, we must work to identify ways that we are keeping ourselves stuck by hanging onto old patterns of belief and old responses to situations.  We are the ones who got ourselves into the mess we're in, and we are the ones who can get ourselves out of that same mess. Nobody else has the power to do this for us.

When we let our stories go, we say, "Wait a minute, I'm not that clumsy.  I'm not ugly.  I'm not doomed to stay in this  low-paying job forever.  I'm not, either, too busy to help.  Once we let the story go, whatever it is, we are free to take different actions, to respond to situations in a different way.  

Are you stuck in a story right now?  What are your current stories about yourself, and how long have you been in them?  Do these stories support you right now or hold you back?  

You can tell when a story holds you back.  If you say to yourself things like, "If I weren't so ugly, I'd be able to find a boyfriend," then your story is "I'm ugly" and it's holding you back from finding a boyfriend. If you think you are the kind of guy who earns $50,000 a year, then that will be what you earn, and it will be almost impossible to earn more than that, even if you are handed a chance on a silver platter.

Fortunately, our stories are not set in stone.  We can change them.  What would you like your story to be?  How will your life be different – how will it be better – when you change your story?  :-)

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