Artwork by Michelle Favin of Whys LA for Poppy & Seed. Connect with her @whyslosangeles.
I have to reprogram my brain every day. Literally, every day.
“No, that’s not true.”
“Did you just hear the way you spoke to yourself?”
The brain isn’t exactly a joy ride (or maybe it’s just mine?). As inventive and creative as it can be, it can also deceive us into believing the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. It can make perfectly agreeable situations monstrous.
Judgment is pervasive in this culture. Scroll through almost any blog or website and you will find unrelenting cruelty in the comments section. Keyboards shouting at other keyboards, without any care for the human being on the other side. Why do we do this?
Why are we so defensive, so ready to attack?
If we stop and listen to the voices within, we’ll often find this same script running. We’re almost unbearably harsh with ourselves, critiquing every word uttered, every action. Why did I say that? Why did I do that?
Because, spoiler alert, you’re human.
And being human is a messy affair. Things don’t always line up according to our ideas of how they should be. We don’t always behave according to plan. Our feelings are often inconvenient at best. But the more we sink into our truth, the more we accept it—without judgment, without shame—the freer we are. Because people can argue with your opinions, they can debate you, zing you, but they cannot argue with how you feel (if they do, they’re toxic because your truth is your truth. Period.)
The stories we tell ourselves can chain us, but they can also liberate us. So if you don’t like the narrative you’re constructing, change it. Invent a different one.
Like I said, I have to do this all the time.
Here are a few questions I’ve found to be helpful in assessing the story I’m telling myself:
- Where does your story start from? Are you empowered or disempowered? Are you coming from a place of scarcity or abundance? For example, if you say “people always abandon me” you’re projecting your power onto others, likely recreating this scenario, subconsciously.
- Who is telling the story? Is it your inner child? Your inner teenager? Your adult self? Your highest self? In the above scenario, for example, it’s likely your inner child speaking, drawing a conclusion from an experience he or she couldn’t make sense of. What would your higher self say?
- Is the story complete? If your answer is yes, reevaluate. We’re always evolving and changing. Nothing is permanent. Again, in this same scenario, we’ve already concluded that all relationships will end the same. There is no room for new possibilities. What if instead, we said “up until now I have drawn in scenarios in which I have experienced abandonment, but I am looking at and exploring the reasons for this and have faith that I can heal this pattern and experience a mutually rewarding, committed relationship.”
Everything is perspective. It’s our lens that shapes our experiences, right? And no matter what your experience, you have the power to look at it from a different angle. As Matilda sings in the musical of the same name (based on the Roald Dahl book): “just because I find myself in this story, doesn’t mean the ending is written for me.” So what will your ending be? Be kind to yourself. After all, you’re listening.