I am sitting in a rocking chair by a window in my bedroom with a light blanket over my legs and my laptop on my lap. On the window sill is my plant, a tall plant whose identity I still don’t know though I’ve had it for years, and a plastic cup I use to water it once a week. Also on my window sill is the book I’ve been reading for the past few days, “The Voice of Knowledge” by Miguel Ruiz.
I’ve just finished reading chapter Five, a chapter that has inspired me so much that I had to put it down in order to write about it. Chapter Five is called “The Storyteller.” Without going into a lot of detail about the entire chapter, I can say that there is one theme which stood out to me, that rang true to me in my own journey towards expressing myself authentically and it is that in order to change the story of that which is happening around you, you must first change the story of the main character, that character of course, being you.
“The only way to change your story is to change what you believe about yourself. If you clean up the lies you believe about yourself, the lies you believe about everybody else will change. Every time you change the main character of your story, the whole story changes to adapt to the main character.”
As someone who subscribes very heavily to the influence of literature and storytelling, (ie bookworm) this approach seems to check out on many levels.
My mother actually sent this book to my husband for Christmas over a month ago but I quickly began reading it before him because I was curious and familiar with Ruiz’ other works which I love. But more specifically, I have been having some painful run ins with outmoded stories I tell myself about myself in order to function “safely” in the world but which no longer apply and perhaps never did.
We all tell ourselves our own story and create our own realities for different needs but most of all is the need to connect with others and to identify and distinguish ourselves based on systems created for us long before we ever arrived.
Most of us create our worlds unconsciously moment to moment, accepting, absorbing, assimilating, in much the same way they we lapse into a dream, never really remembering where it all started. In Ruiz’ native Toltec culture it is believed that our lives are a dream as well and that the act of thinking is the way we go about creating our dream, our life. Because so much about what we believe about ourselves is a lie, we often find ourselves in situations that do not serve our true nature. But since we believe that these lies are truth, are reality, there isn’t much we can do change it.
My truth, my story, the song I play myself over and over on the daily goes a little bit like this:
I’m shy so I can’t_________
I’m flakey so I can’t__________
Something bad will happen if I say or do_________
I’m not business minded enough
I will never have enough money
I’ll never finish
I don’t have enough ______________
I’m too old for that
I can’t focus
I am not worthy of having the kind of experience I desire
I can’t admit that I don’t understand
I can’t have ____ until I have ______
If I don’t have these things by this age I’m a failure
If I don’t desire ______ then something is wrong with me
Or some variation of these. I’m sure one or two of these sound familiar to you. Are you comforted by these admissions? Do they make you feel connected? Relieved? Judgmental? Disappointed?
According to Ruiz, we all have the power to change our stories, to modify and shift them, by changing what we believe about ourselves. Now I’ve heard some version of this before but when you’re really up against creating change in deepest parts of yourself, those lies don’t always go down without a fight. I have felt that fight inside myself and it has manifested itself in many ways. Mini meltdowns, tears, laughter, rage, silence, but always there has been a resistance in my spirit to backing down or to sinking permanently into the deluded comfort of self defeat.
I’m not even sure how to explain it but it has a lot to do with understanding what success and happiness mean for you. Not the story you’ve been told about it, by your family, your government, your friends, your television, your horoscope or the internet, but for you, the main character in the story of your life. How well do any of us really know what we want? We are not as well acquainted with ourselves as we would like to think. What we are well acquainted with are the stories we’ve been told since birth and never had a real hand in writing.
And let me be clear. I think all stories are beautiful. I would even go as far as saying that they are all necessary to some extent, otherwise why would they exist? But the fact is i’ve been holding on to a lot of stories about myself that just aren’t true. They’re not even mine!
I’ll give you a few guesses who they do belong to…