Last Thursday, after a long day at work, I walked to the bus stop eager to get there by 6:00 pm. Why the excitement? I wanted to settle in and listen to The Aware Show. I usually read my email or a book while on the bus, so doing something different is always fun.
Lisa Garr hosts a radio show called The Aware Show where she brings speakers from self-growth, spirituality or health areas and interviews them. She is currently hosting a teleseminar series, and as part of this series, she had on Jennifer McLean. Jennifer is an author, healer, and entrepreneur.
The hour-long bus ride went by quickly as Jennifer spoke about energy. There was one exercise that excited and helped me immensely. I learned about a tool to help me let go of my stories. What do I mean by stories? We all have stories that we tell others that reflect who we believe we are. Most of them are based on struggles, hardships, and all our past experiences. The reason these stories are so compelling is that we reinforce every time we tell them that life is difficult or someone betrayed us.
It’s not that I haven’t heard before how our past stories influence our well-being today. I have many times, but for some reason, the exercise that Jennifer had us all do was significant for me. I’ve been aware that I am more than my childhood or a bad relationship, yet I was not doing anything with the awareness except hold it in my head. During the exercise, I was able to distance myself, and in my gut, I felt a big release of tension because I didn’t have to carry around my stories anymore. So what was the exercise?
Jennifer did an exercise of writing down all of our stories. What stories do we tell others that describe to them who we are? We all have childhood stories, and most of them are usually supporting dysfunctional relationships with our parents or adults in our lives. What about work stories about who does what to whom. Relationship stories on how someone mistreated or betrayed us. Financial struggles. We know those stories because in our head we think “why me?”
Why Do We Tell Our Stories?
It got me thinking…why do we tell our stories over and over? What are we seeking when we tell the stories? Do humans connect better around our troubled stories than our happy stories? Are we afraid to be happy as it may go away? I spoke to someone, and she thought we tell our stories because there is a void when we connect with others and we use our stories to connect. For me, I believe it is about belonging to a tribe, connecting with others, sympathy, empathy, and recognition.
Benefits of Letting Go Of My Stories
Jennifer gave us a few minutes to write down all of the stories that each of us carry around. When I looked at what I wrote on the paper, I felt compassion for Pat who had to deal with all those experiences. I also felt relieved, lighter, could breathe easier and I felt a smile in my body. My stories were on the paper and not in the baggage I was carrying around with me.
It’s part of healing, and we all need to heal the old wounds that thread through our lives. The hurts leave small and large reactions on the trails of our journey in life and many times this stuff blocks our ability to move forward. By writing down the stories, I saw them for what they were in my life…stories. Stories are not real, just descriptions of what happened or anticipations of what will happen. They no longer exist except in my mind.
This simple exercise of writing down my stories left room for me to feel empathy and compassion for myself that I had to deal with difficult situations in my life, but I also felt free to let them go and not be attached to my stories. This freedom created space for me to see the good stuff that often happens in my life. Like listening to this radio show.
“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”