Do you wish you had more confidence and self esteem?
Are you successful on the outside, but harbouring a scary feeling that one day someone will find out you’re not as good as you seem to be?
Perhaps you need to change the story you are telling yourself about who you are.
As a psychotherapist and coach I tell stories all the time. We all do.
Our inner world is made up of the stories we have heard all our lives. Since man could speak, we have tried to communicate our experiences to one another, relaying tips and tools and wisdom about how to live and how to survive.
For us, it begins in childhood with fables and fairytales and family anecdotes.
Through these stories, we come to ‘understand’ our family, our culture, our society, its rules and morals. From our parents, we begin to form a picture of who we are and what is expected of us. The baby looks into its mother’s eyes and tries to locate itself in the world, creating the beginnings of an identity or self image.
Our role in the family drama
What role was allotted to you in your family drama?
Family life can feel like a soap opera. Truth is often stranger than the fiction you see on Eastenders or Coronation Street. The story of your family and your place within it can result in labels and stereotypes which begin to restrict and confine you in many unhelpful ways.
Were you the ‘good girl’ the ‘naughty boy’, the ‘joker’, or the ‘weirdo?’
The patterns of relating we develop in the family often become the template for how we live our life and relate to others, and we often unconsciously repeat these patterns in the other groups such as friendship and workgroups.
If your ‘template’ works for you, that’s fine. It probably means you experienced plenty of unconditional love as a child and had the freedom and support to grow and flourish and develop a positive self image.
If not, you might want to change your story about the person you really are. As Irish author J H Brennan said ‘You grow up, but your self image doesn’t!’
Let go of the labels
The most powerful stories are the ones we continue to tell ourselves.
Think carefully about the ‘labels’ hung on you by others and think carefully about the ones you continue to hang on yourself. The chances are they are false and they are affecting your life every single day.
By identifying your labels, you bring them into your awareness. You begin to have power over them.
And once you’ve identified them, it becomes easier to just let them go.
Try this exercise
• Write down all the labels which have been hung on you by others, perhaps by parents, teachers, friends, enemies, colleagues or others.
• How many of these are unhelpful, hurtful or self limiting? How many of these would you like to let go of?
• Transfer them onto post-it notes.
• Now stick them onto a photo of yourself, or a picture which represents you.
• Make a decision which ones need to go and remove them. Destroy them or throw them in a bin. You don’t need them anymore.
• Now write out the labels you want, the ones which say something about the person you really are and the person you want to be.
• Keep this picture somewhere you can see it every day.
Perhaps it’s time to take responsibility for your own happiness and self esteem and time to mature into your true identity?
It’s your life and your drama.
You are the scriptwriter and the pen is in your hand. What story do you want to tell about who you are and who you will become?
And remember, if your story has not got a happy ending, then it’s not the ending…