There are some things than must go down.
Like…those jeans with sequins on the back pocket or those halter tops you wore 30 pounds ago? If you still have some in your drawer, let me be the first to tell you “let them go already.” You are never going to wear them again. Really, you won’t.
But we hold on to things, don’t we? It’s so weird. I’m still using the same comb I used in high school and have the same pair of LL Bean anorak I bought in the 80s!
So, it is with your miserable old stories about yourselves. We hold on to them for dear life.
In today’s podcast we’re gonna talk about these stories we have about ourselves. You know, those things you think about yourself that you believe are true?
Oh, our stories. You know . . . the ones that say you must always be perfect, or you are fatally flawed, or success is something that only happens for those other people or you’re just a disorganized, hot mess and ain’t nothin’ ever gonna change? You know . . . your stories.
Perhaps these stories are somewhat true or at least you can point to instances when they were true. Maybe having these thoughts served to motivate you at one time. But I’d wager they’re doing you far more harm than good. Keeping them in your mental closet is just clutter and is likely keeping you from bringing in better thoughts and ideas.
“But I’ve got plenty of space”, you say. Bull! You can’t afford to give your prime real estate to anything that’s not serving your highest good. Physical space OR your mental space. You simply can’t afford to do it!
You’ve got to get rid of old ideas.
Note: Getting rid of crappy ideas may even be more important than getting rid of your crappy stuff. Chicken, egg, chicken, egg . . . we could debate this all day.
Simple, But Not Easy
But wait . . . don’t think I don’t know how hard it is to throw out old ideas.
I do. Actually, I don’t think there is anything more difficult.
There are some cool techniques to help you do this such as Emotional Freedom Techniques, EMDR therapy, etc., Heck, I even wrote a book about it entitle BOOM Thinking: The Gutsy Guide to Breaking Out of Old Mindsets.
All that being said, I’ve never met anyone who woke up one day and completely got rid of negative, life-draining thoughts. It could happen. I just think its kind of like winning the lottery or eating an avocado at exactly the right time. You know it CAN happen, it’s just not something that’s very LIKELY to happen.
In my efforts to exorcise my negative thoughts quickly and effortlessly, I’ve even gone so far as to burn pure grain alcohol and Epson salt (cue my daughter’s eye roll here) and walk around the house circling a flaming pan in the air. But, alas, my most harmful stories held on for dear life. Like the slug that refuses to let go on the side of your potted plant.
I tell you all of this to prove I’ve been working on, watching others, making a study of human and our stories. With this deep dive, I’ve come to realize they’re not simply garbage that needs to be taken out. Rather they’re . . . or rather were . . . incredibly important beliefs that at one time served us. Yes, even terrible, hurtful stories like,” I’m so ugly” or “No one loves me.” have a good intention at the root.
But as we evolve and grow, these terribly hurtful and harmful beliefs no longer fit us. Thank God! There comes a time for those of us who are working on ourselves when we finally see the “bull” we’ve been feeding ourselves. And man is this a HUGE mess-o-pain.
Congratulations! You’re in Pain!
“Why do you say congratulations, Cheri”? Are you a sadist? No, I’m not. I just know this kind of pain is a good sign.
This kind of pain means the wiser part of you is finally getting the gumption to speak up and begin singing like Twisted Sister, “Oh We're Not Gonna Take It , no, We Ain't Gonna Take It , oh We're Not Gonna Take It Anymore”. The sage-like part of you realizes there is a happier way to be! Whew!
Another way of saying it is that finally, the rock in your shoe . . . or the painful story you have held on to . . . is making you so uncomfortable you gotta stop, take your shoe off and find a new way to move forward. You’re like an enlightened tube of toothpaste . . . once the toothpaste is out it can’t be put back into the tube. No way. No how.
When this happens, you’re waking up and you’re on your way to changing (or maybe even tossing out) your old your story. It’s a glorious day!
Oh, but here’s the thing. Most of us have grown to L O V E our stories. We love ‘em because we know ‘em. They’re comfortable. (Trust me here . . . even things that hurt can be comfortable.) These stories of ours fit us like that raggedy old pair of sweatpants we’ve hung onto for years.
You know the ones. The ones with the holes in both knees, paint stains and the paper-thin fabric in the crotch. We love them. Sure, we know they’re disgusting to others who just can’t appreciate them properly. We accept that most people wouldn’t wear them. But WE see their beauty. So, we keep them in the drawer and on those lonely, “I-just-want-to-eat-raw-cookie-dough” kind of nights we pull ‘em out and put ‘em on. We LOVE those pants.
Years ago, there was a popular show “What Not to Wear” produced by the TLC channel where I watched loads of people tearfully or even angrily fight. . . really dig their heels in . . . to keep some AWFUL piece of clothing. Clothing that would be better on fire then on their bodies. Why?
I’m not talking physical comfort alone. But comfort in how it made them feel.
But by the end of the show, the hosts, would have shown these poor fashion-less, stuck people that by making the commitment to a new way to dress, and learning some new skills, and paying more close attention to who they are and what they want to be. . . they could transform. They could blossom into the new “them.” The person that was hiding behind ugly clothes, out of style hair and old, moldy stories.
Most of the time, each would later admit those stained, misshapen sweat pants were holding them back. They could finally acknowledge that throwing their old clothes away was the first step in becoming a better person.
And so, it is with our stories.
Our stories are like those nasty-ass sweat pants (or the old, broken down sofa, or pictures of exes or our skinny pants or that ugly china from Aunt Grace). We love them (or so we think), we’ve had them a long time (because they were given to us in someone's will), we even convince ourselves that we look good in them (or their at least not so bad) but they are dragging is down.
We must toss them in the trash. We must move them out like yesterday’s news.
Pull the Plug
One of the most helpful tips I’ve even heard was credited to Carolyn Myss, spiritual healer and author. She encouraged people to give a limited amount of airtime to their stories. When I say stories here, I’m referring to things that happen like. “I got cheated by that store clerk…AGAIN!” or “There goes another relationship…I seem to attract such losers.”
When things happen to us, she says we should limit the number of times we share the story with others. She says 3 times is plenty then we need to put it to rest. Tell “it” three times then LET IT GO.
Why is this so important? Well, one of the ways that our mini-stories fold into our gi-normous mega stained-sweat pant kind of stories is we keep giving them fuel by talking about the so-called evidence over and over and over again. We give energy to the negative and guess what we get? More things happening to us that prove our story is true!!!
So, we have to stop it. Martha Beck calls this tendency to go on and on about things “story fondling.” After telling it a couple of times to process through something it just becomes unnecessary and hurtful.
Let It Go!
What are your stories? What are the negative stories you tell yourself over and over again?
How do these make you feel? Do they motivate you (I strongly doubt it)? Do they comfort you in some weird way but hold you back (I’d bet money they do)?
Do you want to get rid of them? (Please say yes)
Then Let Them Go!
Simple but not easy . . . you gotta do it to be happy.
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