“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu
I just broke up with someone. Well actually, we broke up months ago but things have been dragged out for ages, and this week was the first week of true separation and understanding in both of our minds that this really is complete and finished now.
Yesterday, I found answers to the questions I had been ruminating over in my head (Why did this happen? Why hasn’t it worked? Should I give things another go?) and metaphorically, I put it all to bed.
Today I woke up with a renewing feeling of ‘moving on’. As I got into the shower on this fine Sunday morning in London, I said to myself, ‘it’s like I’m waking up on the first day of a new life. It’s like I’m learning to stand up on my own two feet again.’ And I breathed in the sense of excitement, nervousness, and loneliness that it evoked all at once.
Then I thought:
‘WOAH. Hang on a minute. What a complete and utter STORY I’ve just told myself.
The first day of a new life? Am I REALLY being born again and being violently pushed through my mother’s reproductive bits and entering this world for the second time?
Had I REALLY forgotten how to actually stand up??’
No, of course not. These statements were just made up stories in my head. And they completely dictating how I was feeling in that given moment. The stories made me feel excited, but nervous and alone at the same time.
The reality is, I am no longer in a relationship. That’s it. And yet my beautiful but crazy mind conjured up this entire story that I was ‘being re-born’, and ‘re-starting my life.’ Bullshit. I’m just no longer in a relationship. That’s all.
As a result, the feelings of excitement, nervousness, and loneliness disappeared. I brought my attention back to what was real and what was happening – I was alive. I was in the shower. I was just present to the now. (And isn’t it amazing – what showed up was the inspiration and creativity to write again. I haven’t written authentically like this in months!)
And yet as humans, we do this ALL the time. Our brain is hard-wired to make meanings and interpretations and stories out of everything and we don’t even know it.
Reality = we fail an exam. The story we make up = ‘my life is over!’
Reality = turned down for promotion. The story we make up = ‘I’m not good enough!’
Reality = he didn’t like my cooking. The story we make up = ‘He thinks I’m a terrible wife!’
Reality = single for 2 years. The story we make up = ‘There’s something wrong with me!’
Reality = He didn’t say I love you. The story we make up = ‘he must be cheating on me’
Reality = You’re not prioritizing actions that fulfill your passion. The story we make up = ‘I don’t have time’
Reality = Didn’t know what to say to someone new that you meet. The story we make up = ‘I’m socially awkward’
And then we BELIEVE our stories. Which isn’t always a bad thing, until our stories stop us from making progress or living a life we love. But do you notice how those stories make you feel? You see, the story I told myself in the shower this morning was making me feel nervous and anxious. I started feeling alone. I’d totally escaped what was actually happening in the present moment – my shower.
To live a life you love is to continuously bring yourself back to what is real. What is present. What is happening right now? Because I’m pretty sure that for most of us, the stories we create in our mind, the stories we live into, are not enjoyable.
“Shit, I shouldn’t have said that”
“Argh, why can’t I be more confident”
“So many things I want to do, I just don’t have the time”
“My work won’t be good enough”
“My parent’s will be so disappointed”
“Why am I still single? What’s wrong with me”
How can we enjoy life when we live it as though these stories are true? How can we pursue what it is we really want when we have all these metaphorical hurdles?
Learn to separate the facts of the matter from the stories you create. Ok, so you didn’t pass the exam. The person said you’re defensive. Your mother said you were shy. You didn’t make the grade you wanted.
Not being good enough, being too awkward, being incapable, being a bad person etc. = MADE UP STORY.
📌What story are YOU making up?