Saved by the Bell (or rather Fire Alarm)
If we closely examine our past and the events in it, we might be able to realize that it’s not the actual events and situations that affect us, but rather the stories we later tell ourselves about them and the meaning we give them.
I have known this for some time and understood it intellectually, but the full impact of it remained hidden from me for quite a while.
When the right time came, the significance of storytelling in my own life was demonstrated for me quite forcefully and powerfully. I was participating in a workshop and one of the exercises was to sit with a partner and name the things or signs that allow us to know that we are loved. We had to complete a sentence “I know that I am loved when…”
As I was listening to my partner naming one thing after another, I started to reflect upon my own experiences and it was at that moment that my story got activated. I habitually started to think that I don’t know what it is to be loved; that I’ve never felt loved; I don’t know how I know that I am being loved. And on and on it went. I started feeling sorry for myself and my sad life; tears welled up in my eyes. Poor me, what a miserable life I had, I thought to myself. Then we switched places with my partner and here I was, not able to come up with anything that would make me feel loved. I struggled with sadness, tears and words for several minutes.
And then… shockingly, a piercing sound filled the air and jolted me from my misery. A fire alarm! We all left the room in a hurry and stood outside on a porch waiting to see what was going on. The original shock I felt in the middle of the exercise lingered a little longer, but then all of a sudden an important realization hit me like a rock. What I was thinking and feeling back in that room was just an old, worn out story! It was not true at all! And with this realization my “sad” and “painful” childhood story had disintegrated right in front of my eyes. Finally, I was free!
Soon, the hotel personnel cleared up the situation and we went back inside. I sat across from my partner again and all the wonderful things that made me feel loved began to pour out from me. How could I forget the reality of my life? I have so many beautiful and loving people in my life, I am surrounded by love and yet that silly old story was able to take me over and make me forget all the blessings I’ve had in my life.
And what about you? What kind of stories do you tell yourself every day? Which ones of them imprison you in your own past? Are they true now that you’re an adult? Do you want to keep them, or maybe it’s a time to let them go?