The New Year lends itself to a ‘reset’ in many people’s lives. New year resolutions, reboots, challenges, audits, bucket lists, intention setting. It is a time to evaluate the past year and determine whether you want to implement a few changes for the coming year. Tomorrow night I’m attending a ceremony to mark this transition with a few girlfriends that I’ve been meditating with for the past two years. Marie, who facilitates the programs, has asked us to think about rewriting some of the stories of our lives – a sure fire way to spark my interest!
I’ve been contemplating the parts of my life that feel like they need a rewrite, the repetitively negative portions. The thought processes that are no longer serving me (perhaps they never did) and are making me feel exhausted whenever they pop up. I love this quote from Hannah Gadsby’s special Nanette – ‘We learn from the part of the story we focus on’. I’ve spent so much time focused on the stories of my life that do not help me grow or bring me any joy that it has become a learned behaviour.
I’m not alone in this, we humans tend to let the negatives outweigh the positives. It’s called the negativity bias, an evolutionary imprint from our caveman days when being acutely aware of danger kept us alive. Even though we sit atop the food chain now and don’t have to hunt and gather food to survive, the brain function remains. It’s why you can’t remember all the nice things said to you by friends in high school, but you sure as hell can remember when Susan stood over you at lunch, laughing to her crowd of followers that you looked like a fat cow chewing its cud. I wonder if Susan even remembers saying that. I can still feel every ounce of the humiliation, thirty years on.
Susan’s comment added to a myriad of experiences in life that taught me I was less worthy due to my body and looks. I let that dialogue form part of my narrative and soon it became a limiting belief I held as true. So many actions in my life were tainted by that filter – I’m unworthy because I’m not pretty and I’m too fat. Although I’ve learnt to embrace and appreciate my body these days, the shame can still rear its ugly head when I’m feeling hurt. The sense of being unworthy is always ready to become my reasoning when things don’t go my way.
I’m determined to move into 2019 with a new discourse in my head. I can’t change the things that have happened, I can only change how I let them affect me now. Just a few stories I plan to rewrite include –
Allowing past opinions about my appearance to be reasons to feel ashamed today. Letting those opinions affect my marriage.
Focusing on the negatives from my childhood, rather than remembering the fun times, of which there were many.
Using destructive jokes to describe my relationship with my deceased mother. It reduces her to a caricature of who she was and impacts my children’s memory of their Grandma.
Feeling like I don’t deserve the rewards that come my way because I am unworthy of them. Never following through and completing things because I’m afraid to say I’m done with something and put it out there to be judged as unworthy.
What stories are you ready to rewrite? You are the creator of your story and the words you use to describe it can hold you back or they can propel you forward. It is never too late to start the story again.