Choose Your Story Wisely

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I was having a conversation with my best childhood girlfriend the other day.  She’s launching into the holidays worried this may be her father’s last Thanksgiving.  Her mother just had major shoulder surgery and has a long recovery ahead.  My BFF is an only child and is smack in the middle of raising kids and aging parents, caring for everyone while working a strenuous job as a nurse practitioner.  She’s feeling alone and weighted by responsibility.  The narrative ringing in her head is, “I can’t do this.  I don’t have a clue how I will handle anything.  I’m not a good daughter/wife/mother.”

She’s also struggling with what she and I call “the sins of the fathers”—those characteristics passed down through our lineage.  For some folks, those characteristics are positive—highly organized, good with money, positive zest for life, etc.; and for others destructive—drugs and alcohol, abuse, infidelity, etc.  She’s feeling the guilt and shame of having inherited a few characteristics that are not so great.

I had to pause for a moment as she was talking because the stories she was telling me about herself sounded far too familiar.  I’ve said those things about myself on a continuous loop in my brain before and I’m guessing many of you have said the same or similar things depending upon your situation.  Because she is my best friend since third grade, it was really easy to challenge her narrative—I told her,

Regarding what we receive from our ancestors—it is often tough stuff.  I would challenge your thinking a bit. You are loving, caring and kind.  You’re smart and resourceful.  You are a good mother and a great friend.  You’re creative.  So for any difficult stuff you feel you may have inherited, you’re also awesome.”

She cried.

My guess is many of you have talked a friend off the ledge with words of love and kindness.  It’s time we start doing the same for ourselves.  The story we tell ourselves is the one that ultimately becomes our truth.  Choose your story wisely and create the rich life you deserve.

How about this Thanksgiving Day, in addition to considering all that you are grateful for, you add yourself to the list and start a new story—a story starring yourself as empowered, strong, healthy, wise and good.

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