The Comfort of an Old Story

So there’s this thing that happens when we experience something painful, like a tragedy, a broken heart or disappointment. We’re only human, so it’s natural to experience the pain. It’s healthy to allow ourselves to experience the fullness of that pain so that we aren’t hiding from it or stuffing it down. But sometimes we get in a rut and we tell the same story over and over and over again. There is a certain amount of significance we can get from telling a particular story, even if it isn’t an empowering one. However, we do have the choice to tell a different story, a better one, and to let go of the painful one. The best stories we can choose to tell are ones that empower us and empower others. Take, for example, the person that feels that they can never commit in a romantic relationship. They may find a particular amount of significance in retelling the story that ‘I have a difficult time committing.’ They also may find a strong connection with others as they continually retell that story and find their identity in it. They want to be in a committed relationship, but they’ve told the wrong story for so long that they have begun to believe it completely.   In a twisted way, it serves them, but it does not serve others.

A better story for this person to tell would be that when they find the right person at the right time they will absolutely commit to that relationship. That’s a story that not only serves them, but also serves those around them as others aren’t continually pulled into the ‘older’ less empowering story.

Often times when we make that choice to let go of an old story, it feels like we are losing a part of who we are. We can feel lost because we were comfortable with the old narrative, as much as we disliked it. Instead of feeling uncomfortable and unfamiliar with our new emotional surroundings when we choose a better story, we hang on to the old one because we know it so well.

It’s like a close friend. We know how to operate within that story. But there is this magic space that is created between cause and effect. When something bad happens to us there is a an opportunity where we get to choose the meaning that gets attached to that event and we get to choose how we move forward. The effect is then completely different than had we simply reacted without attaching a powerful meaning.

If we want a better life, a life that resonates with our true dreams, hopes and desires, we have to be ok with letting go of the comfort of our repetitive negative story and allow ourselves the space and the freedom for a new one. It isn’t easy and it isn’t comfortable. If it was, everyone would be living the life of their dreams. But it’s worth it.

Is there an area of your life where you’ve been telling a story that doesn’t empower you or others? What might a new story, an empowering one, look like? Would you be willing to tell a new story even if it meant temporary discomfort? Is your happiness worth it? Are you worth it?

“If you don't change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?” W. Somerset Maugham

“The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alteration of old beliefs.” – John Dewey

"If you want a happy ending, the depends, of course, on where you stop the story." - Orson Welles