(this post was previously published on Roots of She, where I am guest-blogging as part of the Winter Tribe)
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Although it’s mid-winter, I’m in the midst of a harvest.
The end of an era has me choosing what goes with me into the next round, and what stays behind. I’m harvesting the ripe fruit. Mining the terrain for treasures buried in the dirt. Noticing what never grew at all.
And composting a whole lot of dead branches.
This is a vital part of growth and change, but one we tend to avoid. It’s much more invigorating to charge forward in new directions, especially if we have bled and ached a good long while, and just want to be done with this chapter. Once the end has been declared, we want to nail it shut and move on. Finality is so satisfying.
But inventorying who we’ve become helps us see the untruths we can now leave behind.
Unlike shooting movie scenes, there’s no “cut!” prompting us to stop the last scene and “roll!” to start the next. Not in real life. We morph from one version of ourselves to another … we unfurl into who we are becoming. But if we aren’t careful, we allow old stories and limiting beliefs to come along with us, and these stories can derail us from stepping more fully into our true selves.
I’m taking the time now to lay to rest the stories that don’t serve me. It’s tricky work and I am oh-so-gentle as I go about my weeding; these stories are enmeshed in the most tender places of my heart. I’m looking especially for stories that might have once been true before, but aren’t any more. As I have grown, I’ve outgrown these stories.
Here’s a bit of what I find on my excavation. Do any of these sound like old stories you’re keeping around, even though they aren’t true?
Stories about not _________ enough. I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not thin enough, not creative enough. I haven’t completed my research, I don’t have real talent, I’m not ready to play in the big leagues, I lack what I see in others.
Stories about boxes I inhabit. I’m not good with numbers. I don’t know how to run a business. I’m a terrible artist. You can count on me to organize the fundraiser again. I’m shy.
Stories about not worthy. I’m not worthy of that job, not worthy of that expensive full-price gorgeous pair of boots, not worthy of her love. I’m not worthy of asking for what I truly want. Deep down I’m not worthy of my own approval.
Stories that prompt a shame response, rather than an honest answer. Saying Yes to a request because we’re friends. Saying No to a request because of all the above stories. Responding to criticism by shrinking and agreeing, rather than seeing it as helpful feedback that will enable me to change.
With love coursing through my veins I put on my detective hat and look real close. I demand facts to support these stories. I search for proof of how they might be true and how they are plain ole lies.
I take them out and hold them to the light. I allow old memories to rise to the surface, and consider them as well. I find a few examples of what seems to be support for these old stories … I DID have that negative review. I DID have that proposal rejection. I DID make a few bad investments. I DID hand over all things money-related to my husband. I DID have some unsavory reflections of myself handed back to me.
AND I see them in context of who I’ve become, who I’m becoming. Not proof of my limitations. Not a map of what’s ahead. They are stories that reflect my beautiful humanness. They hurt because I want to do better. The pain I endured because of these stories is pain that has healed me, guided me, made me stronger. I’m grateful for each one of them as I leave them behind, where they belong.
I wonder what old stories you might be carrying around with you, whatever chapter of life you’re in. I invite you to wrap yourself in love, and with the kindest of eyes, to go looking beneath the surface at the things you have told yourself are true. Test them. Release them if they’re ready. Use them as compost for your tender new growth.