I've always been fascinated by human psychology. Why is it that people do what they do? Why do some people set a goal and easily attain it while others seem to never be able to hang on to that thing that they endlessly chase. Why do some of us revel in our progress, while others can only see what they're still not capable of?
There are so many quick and easy answers to why we do what we do… Upbringing. Circumstances. Personality differences. Mental toughness. Drive. Motivation. I am who I am. But are any of those REALLY the truth of it?
What I've come to see as true is that, we are who we believe we are and we do what we believe we'll do… no more… no less.
We are the stories we tell ourselves about how life has come at us and how we've responded to it up 'til now.
"I am this way because my dad is this way."
"I am this way because no one taught me another way."
"I am this way because this person hurt me."
"I am this way because that other way is too hard."
What I see in my own life… what I see in the lives of the people around me… is that we make these beliefs of "I am this way, because…" our truth instead of recognizing them as stories.
Something, millions of things, have happened to you in your life. True. What you believe about those things, is just your interpretation… a story. When we're little, we're like little sponges. We soak everything up. And slowly but surely we build our filters about what things mean. This happened this way, so it means THAT. That happened this way, so it means THIS. Soon it becomes automatic. We tell ourselves the story of our life without ever stopping to question if it's true.
The filters I built over time told me that love isn't safe, that the people you trust will hurt & abandon you, that nothing good lasts. My entire life changed, literally in an instant, when I realized that these were just my interpretations of how things happened once upon a time. My stories. They were only true because I believed them to be. When I saw them for what they were, I was able to look again, with new eyes, at old circumstances and find the good in them… not with some kind of rose-colored-optimism, but in a… "I want good things FOR and FROM my life and these stories are holding me back from those things… can I look again at these circumstances and see something in them that worked, or works now, for my good?" Every single time, I've been able to find the good.
I can remember, too, being in that place of, "well I can't let this go because this person did this to me and it was wrong and I'm not going to let them off the hook that easy." Thankfully, as soon as I actually caught myself having that thought I realized how ridiculous it was. How crazy is it for us to think that we're punishing anyone but ourselves by holding on to our stories of how we were hurt or wronged? For me, when it came down to it, it wasn't about letting someone or something off the hook, it was about letting myself off the hook. It was about freeing myself to live forwards.
What about you? Why do you do what you do? If you're HERE with something, but you want to be THERE, what stories are you believing that are keeping you HERE?
"I want to lose weight, but…"
"I'm not more organized, because…"
"I can't quit this job that I'm miserable in and do something I love, because…"
"That dream will never happen for me, because…"
We hold on so desperately to our reasons… to our stories… to our evidence for why things are the way they are - even though they're pulling us under… we kick and paddle and fight for them, though we're drowning beneath their weight. Something inside screams that it won't survive if we let go and we mistake that voice for our own, but it's only the past echoing up. Life is in the letting go.
"Life must be lived forwards, but it can only be understood backwards." - Søren Kierkegaard
(photo by: millervintage)