Whether we realize it or not, we tell ourselves a story about whom we believe ourselves to be and then live into that story. Our brains work through images and we literally see ourselves as being a particular way and then take actions in accordance with these images. We believe what we are because we project out onto the world these images and then they show up as our lives.
Your story is very important to know because it does become who you are, not the other way around.
These images are formed beginning at a very young age. Many are created before language has fully formed. Once we do have language, we put words to our images and tell ourselves this is “true.” This is who I am. And, again, because we tell ourselves the same story over and over again, it does show up in our lives as the truth.
Just as an example, I grew with violence as a constant threat. If I did anything wrong, I was going to get hit. Part of my story became “I cannot fail”. I also internalized with word and image that “I will kick your ass if you mess with me.” Even as I write these words in the safety of my home, where violence is no longer a threat, I can feel the visceral impact of my story. These images have an impact whether or not I realize it or am present to them. I am constantly vigilant.
For this I pay a huge price. Looking for what is wrong, fearful of trying something new because failure is not an option, and carrying around this wall of “mess with me and I will kick your ass” costs me dearly in my everyday life. So, as I write these words, I am taking responsibility for the story I live into and by taking responsibility for the fact that this is mine, I can then change my story and thereby change the course of my life.
Yes I did experience violence, which is sad, but it is not tragic. My life does not have to be a tragedy. I can become my own hero in my story. This gives me a new image to live into. This gives me freedom to create myself in a way that is empowering rather than as a victim. I can fail, learn something new from my mistakes and grow. I do not have to have a chip on my shoulder. I also see the gifts of having survived a challenging childhood. I can survive, I can protect myself. I am willing to work hard. There is a silver lining.
What is your story?