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Up Next - Video 4 "The Stories We Tell Ourselves - 4 of 5" where we investigate how our life would improve if we came to believe that our deepest identity is actually unconditional love waiting patiently for us to reclaim this powerful life-force.
I came across a quote from a fellow named Leo Babauta who beautifully describes the power of our self-limiting stories. He said, “We fear we’ll fail because we’re not good enough. We fear we’ll lose our relationships, we’ll be abandoned, we’ll be rejected … because we’re not good enough. We fear intimacy for the very same reason — we might get rejected because we’re not good enough. Even the fear of success is based on the worry that we’re not good enough...But here’s the thing: having the fear is natural. Letting it stop you from going after your dreams is a tragedy.”
So what changes might you be willing to consider if you discovered that the way to experience the life you dream of having begins by accepting that the beliefs you hold about yourself may seem perfectly reasonable but may also be incomplete or inaccurate. Remember that I said in an earlier video that our identity is not so much an assortment of facts as it is a collection of stories that we’ve accumulated over time and come to believe is who we truly are. But these stories are not the whole story.
Let me share a personal example: At the age of 20 I’d dropped out of school, I was an alcoholic. I was about to lose my wife and my job. By every standard, that the world suggested I needed in order to succeed, I was a total failure. I had no reasonable expectation, based on those standards, to believe that I was going to do anything but increase my suffering and the suffering of the people I cared about. I seriously considered killing myself to put an end to all the chaos. In desperation I reached out for help. I found some mentors who suggested that I should hold off killing myself, at least for a little while, because the person I would be killing was a stranger.
They told me that they started out holding similar stories about themselves, but with the support and encouragement of people, who refused to accept their self-critical stories, they learned how to replace these stories with others that were more compassionate and self-loving. My mentors came to understand that the life they’d been living before was the best they could do, with the limited resources they had at the time, and the damage they caused wasn’t the whole story of who they were on the inside. They just didn’t know how to get past their self-defeating beliefs and behaviors. In time, as their stories about themselves changed, they started to experience more love and appreciation for themselves. As my stories about myself began to change I too came to be more self-loving and as my love and appreciation for myself grew, my life began to change in remarkable ways.
So let’s try a self-reflection exercise: Have you ever changed your definition of yourself based on new information or experiences coming along? Can you feel how changing a story about yourself changes your experience?
So as a Take-away Activity: I’d like to invite you to notice any beliefs that validate your strengths, dreams, and capacity for loving kindness rather than the stories that reinforce your failures and limitations. At the beginning of the day focus on what you want more of in your life and feel how this shift in focus changes your experience.
In the next video we’ll investigate how our life would improve if we came to believe that our deepest identity is actually unconditional love waiting patiently for us to reclaim this powerful life-force. I’m John Paterson - Thank you for joining me on this journey