I don’t have time
I’m just not lovable
The circumstances aren’t right
I can’t do it
Marriages never last
I’m not enough
At some point during our life, usually when we’re young(er), these archetypal stories of lack and limitation come up. And we raise our hand and say yes – yes I don’t have time, yes I’m not lovable, yes I’m not enough. We say yes because the story fits. We say yes because it’s how we feel at the moment. We say yes because we don’t realize it’s a story and so we say yes and we take ownership of the story and it reverberates throughout the course of our life.
For quite some time now I’ve been able to pinpoint where my not-enough story started. I was 6 years old and it was the year my brother was crowned king at the pageant. Never mind that I was 1st runner up in the girl’s division. Never mind that I had always placed every year my mother put me in the pageant. I’ve been able to pinpoint the very event that created this limiting belief of not-enough, but it wasn’t until this week that I realized I was saying yes to that story and I’ve been saying yes to that story for almost 30 years! It’s a story that says because he won, I lost and because I lost I wasn’t enough. More than that, because I’ve been saying yes to this story, I’ve said yes to other versions of this story throughout my life. It’s the reason I often find myself in similar feelings, circumstances or predicaments. It’s the reason I can find “evidence” to support my not-enough story. It was a truly mind-blowing, holy fuck moment. Ever have one of those?
What actually led me to this moment was finding myself in that same situation where someone else was “winning”. Last week I found myself cycling back to thoughts of self-doubt and not-enoughness as I watched people I love and admire living out some of their big dreams and goals. As I watched them soar, as my heart swelled with happiness for them, the pain of that pageant stung me. It reminded me I wasn’t them. I wasn’t the one winning and if I wasn’t winning, I was losing.
Throughout my life, I’ve wrestled with notions of competition and collaboration – the idea that if you win, I lose – the idea that maybe we could both win. About a year ago, I decided to make a conscious effort to collaborate with people in meaningful ways because deep down I want to see the people I love happy and thriving. I want to see YOU living out your dreams too. And I want to be right there alongside you doing my thang. I want us all to win. And, this week I realized that for the last 30 years I wasn’t saying yes to that story, not fully anyways. I was honoring my 6-year-old self, the one that said if you win, I lose and if I lose I’m nothing.
We are the stories we tell ourselves. And that story is the relationship between who we are, or who we think we are, and the world. For every story we say yes to, we omit others from our narrative.
story 1: my brother won the pageant. I’m not enough.
story 2: I won 1st runner-up (and a trophy every year prior). I’m really proud.
story 3: how great is it that both my brother and I won trophies?
The more I examined my narratives, the more I realized my yes-story read like a choose your own adventure book – except that I kept choosing the same damn ending regardless of the scenario. I could have chosen any variation of the story to tell and live; instead I always chose version 1. That realization was everything.
Towards the end of last week, I said yes to me. Perhaps for the first time ever. And I was more present with my life and in teaching my classes than I have ever been. The moment I decided to investigate what my story didn’t “say” – the moment I said, “Fuck no” to the script and, “Hell yes” to me – I stopped worrying about all the details of life and stepped back into a place of what I can only describe as authentic ownership for my life and my story.
When was a time you said yes to something – a job, relationship, an idea or limiting belief – that kept you playing small or had you live a kind-sorta-maybe existence instead of a hell yea?
While you can’t change what has happened or what someone else said or did, you do have the power to decide to not allow those stories to control your life.
Get curious about your yes-story:
- What other narratives of the story exist? Are you only telling or believing one part of the story?
- Why are you holding onto that story? What needs are you fulfilling by holding onto these beliefs?
- What would your future look like if you let go of those beliefs? What can you do in this moment to move toward that future yes? What small things can you say yes to in this present moment?