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Your Story About Yourself Can Help You or Harm You

Where do our stories come from?

A story in its simplest form is a relating of events that actually occurred. It can be retold with precision, or embellished as it is passed along.

Stories can also be created in our imagination as a way to explain phenomena that we don’t have an explanation for and are trying to understand. The origin of the world and all of its components have been the subject of stories since the earliest humans roamed the earth. All religions are explained by way of stories. Rules are conveyed to us through stories. We attempt to explain human behavior by telling stories about it.

Stories help people make sense of things and they connect people through empathy. When we are touched by someone’s story, we are joined in our humanity. If we have experienced a similar story we nod our heads as we listen to it. This can bring us together. Stories are also used to keep people in line – as a cautionary tale to keep us from acting in a way that will put us outside the group. Certain stories can help oppressors keep people oppressed.

But what happens when none of the stories that are being told around you fit your life? Like the story of the gender binary? Or what if the story your family has told you while you were growing up has damaged you?

We all tell stories about ourselves. I had a story for years that I wasn’t good with money. I helped my husband in his business, I bought houses and renovated them and turned them into income streams. I managed the banking and investing for our family. And yet I told myself, and other people, that I was no good with money. That I had no head for it. What a bunch of bs.

Where did that story come from? I actually think it started when I was a girl and my bestie and I would go shopping. Her family had more money than mine yet she was frugal and I was not. We would go shopping for something for her and she would come home with nothing and I would always come home having purchased something. I noticed this pattern and made it mean something negative about me.

Then as an adult, sometimes I bought stuff I didn’t need. Like décor for the house, or a new purse, or a timeshare. And that narrative, that I was sometimes wasteful or a spendthrift, was the story I latched on to. Which makes no real sense right? I was a person who was good with money that sometimes was frivolous with it, but never to the point where I put my family’s security at risk. Not even close.

I was literally 55 years old when I figured that out. And it was coaching that helped me recognize that the story I believed about myself wasn’t helping me and it wasn’t even true! I had been believing a lie about myself for literally decades. When I looked at the thoughts that had created that story for me my mind was literally blown.

And then I thought -- imagine what I could have created over all those years if I had believed that I was good with money?!

I've been taking a deep dive into the stories I have been telling myself over the years that have stalled my growth. And I am fascinated by other people's stories. As a coach, I help people discover where their own stories aren't helping them, and sometimes even stand in the way of the result they are trying to achieve.

Take a look at the stories you are telling yourself. And take a look at the stories you are telling yourself about your children. Are they even true? Are they serving you is a positive way? If not, it’s time to start making some new ones.

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