Saturday, April 28, 2012

Say What?

Here's something to ponder. We are the stories we tell about ourselves.

No, no, wait. Read it again. The point here is not that we tell stories or that we tell them about ourselves. The point is that we ARE those stories. There's a difference. Jane knows people (and admits to being one herself, though she is working on that) who do this all the time.

"I'm so clueless that..." "I can't..." "I'm not..." "My body isn't..." "My life isn't..." "My potential isn't..."

Sounding familiar?

It's sneaky, this story telling. It quietly slips into conversation, once...twice...look out, because after the third time it might easily become a habit. And that's okay if the stories are about how you handle adversity (by rising to the occasion) or how you confront challenge (with squared shoulders and a good attitude) or how you are proud of your good strong body and your creative mind and your serene inner peace. But you know what? Those things aren't often in the stories. Because somehow along the way, we (as a society, as a culture) decided that the good stories, the ones that build us up in a nicely positive way, aren't what people want to hear. They want to hear about our flabby arms and our inability to get over hurt. They want to hear about our negatives. Makes a better story and assures an audience ready to listen to each word. If we talked about the good stuff, if we told positive stories about ourselves, maybe they would whisper about how we think we're all that.

Okay, okay. Jane gets it. Nobody wants people whispering that we love ourselves too much. But still...isn't loving ourselves way better than putting ourselves down at every opportunity?

The obvious answer is that yes, it's way better.

Jane can't even think of enough good adjectives to convey how much better. And Jane knows a lot of adjectives! Basically, without excessive adjective embellishment, it comes down to a simple difference. Do you want to become the stories about a flabby-armed person holding onto hurt who has no luck in life and would probably step in poo if there is any in the vicinity, especially when wearing those new heels? Or do you want to become the stories that show a person who loves herself, who allows herself time to grieve but then makes a plan for moving on, who laughingly avoids the poo?

This is all very specific and Jane realizes that some of the stories we tell are simply...stories. No harm in that, right? Sure, no harm except that the little stories have a way of repeating themselves until they really do become us. Or we become them.

Why are we so hard on ourselves? We offer compassion and understanding to friends. We hug away their hurts. We listen gently when they need it and we laugh freely when the mood is lighter. And we encourage them. That's the big thing. We encourage our friends and our family and our children. What happened to encouraging ourselves? Since when were we exempt from that need?

You might be thinking that you don't do this, you don't make negative comments about yourself. Maybe you don't. But it's Jane's guess that you don't realize how many sneak into your daily conversations, either with yourself or others. So Jane is going to challenge you (and herself) to keep track.

Every time you think "that was stupid" about something you did, every time you put yourself down, every time you describe yourself in a "can't, won't, don't" kind of way, make a note of it. Every single time. Jane bets you will be surprised.

You might be thinking that you get along just fine, thanks, so there's no need to keep track of anything. But...what if you still did, what if you still paid attention and discovered the negatives in your conversations and in your stories and what if you decided that getting along fine is...well...fine, but how much better would you get along without all that? What if? What if?

What if the stories we tell about ourselves are kind and loving and brave and positive? And we believed truly that we ARE those things? What if we taught our daughters to do that as well? What if we embraced our positives instead of emphasizing our negatives?

Jane will leave you to consider the possible outcome of such behavior. She feels that it would be not only life changing but quite possibly world changing.

The stories we tell about ourselves become our reality.

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