I don’t know about you, but there is no one who has ever been a harsher critic of me – than me! I have always had very high standards for who I want to be and what I want to achieve in this world, and I find myself falling short sometimes of my own nearly impossible standards.
Lately, I’ve been practicing finding more compassion for myself, and reminding myself that I am human too! I don’t hold other people to the same exacting standards that I have always seemed to demand for myself.
I’ve been finding happiness in connecting with others more to hear their stories, and being reminded that everyone has doubts sometimes, that everyone hurts sometimes, and that none of us get exempted completely from suffering while on earth. It may sound strange that I have thought at times that I wouldn’t suffer, that I could completely rise above it, but think I have believed that the self-development and coaching tools I use could somehow prevent me from ever having fear thoughts.
What I have learned instead is that it’s perfectly normal to have fear thoughts and doubt sometimes, and what matters is just acknowledging that you’re having those thoughts, gently picking a new thought, and hopefully taking some action that feels empowering, or doing something that brings you joy.
It is comforting to know that pretty much everyone seems to have a “story” they go to about themselves that makes them suffer. The reason I find this comforting is because 1) you can know you’re not alone in judging yourself or sometimes telling yourself that you are “not enough” and 2) once you know you have a story that you tell yourself that makes you suffer, you have the power to shift that!
Writing A New Story
In the past week, I have talked to a few different friends, all of whom are people I greatly admire, who are very successful people, and both told me that they, too, have go-to stories that they tend to return to whenever they are not feeling awesome about their lives. One friend, who is a life coach and a talented dancer, said that his story is “I’m alone and unwanted.”
Now this is someone who is extremely extroverted, who helps people to feel involved and have more fun as part of the work he does in the world, and who is greatly loved by so many people, myself included. He said that when that story pops up, which it often does when he’s entering a new situation for the first time, he just recognizes it: “That’s my story.”
When we recognize that we are not our thoughts, and that we are not our emotions, but the one who is observing our thoughts and emotions, they lose their hold and power over us. We all have negative thoughts and stories that pop up sometimes, but they don’t need to define us, and they don’t need to hold us prisoner, either.
Another friend of mine said that her mind sometimes tells her that she “should” own a home by this point in her life, and that she “should” be more financially stable than she is. Now this is an amazing spirit who teaches yoga, and has traveled the world for love, and who follows the call of her heart and soul more powerfully than just about anyone I have ever known.
Plenty of people own homes and are miserable living in them. This is a woman who knows that she is living out the values and principles and visions she stands for.
Society and the media provide plenty of ways to make us feel inadequate, because the entire advertising industry is built around making us believe that we’d be happier if we acquired something else. The notion that we could find inner peace and happiness without consuming or accumulating “stuff” is pretty foreign in American mainstream culture.
The Kingdom of Heaven On Earth
Yet all the great spiritual traditions and teacher tell us that “the kingdom is within.” The key to happiness and peace lies within our own hearts.
We are the only ones who can release ourselves from the mental prison and pain of thoughts that make us feel “less than” worthy of whatever it is that we want to create in life. It starts with recognizing the fact that most of us tell ourselves a story, at least once in a while, about why we are not good enough.
Would it make you feel any better to know that as you are busy judging yourself and worry about what everyone else thinks, most people are busy judging themselves and worrying about what you think?
It’s really the Divine Comedy that everyone runs around worrying about what everyone else is thinking, when the reality is that everyone is usually so busy worrying about themselves that they’re not really thinking about you at all, except to wonder what you are thinking about them!
This, my friends, is part of the human condition. We can rise above it when we remember that “other people’s opinions are none of our business,” that we get to choose how we write our own stories, and that no matter what stories we have told ourselves in the past, that we still get to choose to write a new story now. We always have that choice.
I Let Go of My Story!
I’m a life coach, inspirational writer and blogger here on 8womendream, a motivational public speaker, and I still have moments when I slip into an old story. This is after more than a decade of doing intensive personal self-development work on myself, including therapy, yoga, meditation, transformational leadership classes, and reading countless spiritual and self-help books.
Ever since was a little girl, I suffered from an almost paralyzing fear of making mistakes. I took perfectionism to new heights, believing that I was the one human who somehow would and could “get it all right.” I didn’t really give myself room or permission to make mistakes.
And I lived with a fear that I could make some “fatal mistake” that would mean I couldn’t live my destiny, whatever that was! It’s funny to think about it now really, but my mind would get obsessed at times with the story that something in my past was “wrong” and that I couldn’t do what I wanted because of it.
Honestly, if anything that is just an escape hatch to stop me from taking action on my dreams. We don’t serve ourselves by arguing for our perceived limitations!
And how silly is it that I think I can argue with 14 billion years of evolution that brought me to this exact moment, right now?
I’ve only been on this planet for a mere 44 years which is just a blip in time in comparison! I’m not sure why I get so convinced sometimes that I have all the answers to everything, and why I don’t trust in the process of life.
I am reminded to trust in the flow, to know that I’ll somehow always be where I need to be, and to know that grace and love are infinite. Really there is never anything we can do in life except to be here now, and to make the most of the moment.
This moment now will someday be the past, and by living well now, we create a more beautiful future.
I’m committed to creating incredible memories by living the moments now as fully and joyfully as I can! And part of that means reminding myself to drop the stories when they arise, and simply to revel in the gift of living this miraculous life.
I wish this sense of joy and peace for everyone! May you remember that you are not your thoughts, you are not your stories, and you are not your emotions.
May you choose to write a story about your life that empowers you, focusing on the positive. And may you live your dreams by deciding that you are worthy to receive all the blessings life wants to shower upon you.
Lisa Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on the Madam President Project.