The Stories We Tell Ourselves.

Once upon a time…we begin. Or how does your story begin? Better still, how will it end?

You know who you are. But who do you tell the world you are?

My mother has a myriad of friends. Friends of all ages. Her most recent best bud has been Heidi. My daughter has been asking for her ever since we came back from her grandmother’s place. Each one of them has been confiding in me how much they miss the other. “I really miss the kids…how is Heidi?” my mother asks me over the phone. “I miss gogo…when are we going back to my gogo’s place?” Heidi asks. So I am compelled to call ‘gogo’ and put Heidi on the phone with her. Then they talk like old friends. Trust Heidi to do this while pacing the room with the phone in her ear and one hand to her waist.

My Mother had one particular friend who would always visit while we were young (I rarely see her nowadays) She was very talkative and would keep all of us entertained during her visits. Whenever she visited she would enthrall mother (and the eavesdropping us) with gossip. Her stories came with funny facial expressions, fascinating sound effects and frenzied hand gestures. As she spoke, she clapped her hands in wonderment, clasped her waist in bewilderment and sometimes did a 360°  about-turn in excitement. If she was seated, (they were always sipping tea in the kitchen for hours!) she would stand up when the story was too hot to be told while seated. Cedric The Entertainer had nothing on her as she had my mother in stitches most of the time.

We all have a story to tell. And we have our way of telling it. We all want to tell it right. Interestingly. In a way that will not make our audiences snore on us. Ways that will make them look at us with envy and pride. We want them to marvel at our ingenious. Admire our resilience.  Applaud our comebacks. We ultimately want to end our tale with a resounding “…and I lived happily ever after!”

Yet telling our story exposes us to being judged, which is unsettling. And we don’t always have inspiring stuff to share. Sometimes we are so blue that we don’t believe there is anything good to say about our lives. Sometimes, our stories simply suck.

Even when our story sucks, our need to tell a compelling, jaw-dropping story still persists. That is when we opt to twist our tales a bit. In an attempt of feed our need for validation and our egoistic need to keep it intriguing, we lie to ourselves and to others. This is because we want to appear interesting even if it means trying to be what we are not.

The lies we tell others are not so harmful because sooner or later, our true self comes out. Sooner rather than later, people stop paying attention to our words and start focusing on our actions. Our true story is reflected by the life we live. You could claim to be a good person who would never hurt a fly. You will spot a fly sooner or later. True to your words, you will restrain yourself from hurting said fly. You will keep your disdain in check even when the flies cause a nuisance all around you, careful to calmly shoo them away with a harmless wave. They might leave you alone for a while only for them to come back after some time. You are still keeping appearances. Not hurting flies. Only that now, you are gritting your teeth. They will keep pestering you. And a time comes in one’s life when the veil has to come off. Your time comes. You snap. You pick a newspaper. You roll it carefully into a lethal weapon. You raise it. Slowly. You have waited to do this for so long. You bring down the rolled newspaper with precision. THWAAARP! You hit it spot on! You kill the damn thing once and for all. To hell with flies! You exhale. You feel much better!

Alas! We look on and finally get to know what you’re all about. Not one to hurt flies is what you say you are. But not exactly who you are.

Yes. The lies we tell others are harmless because it doesn’t matter how long you tell the story, the time will come when people will not listen to what you’re saying but instead focus on what you’re doing. The stories we tell ourselves are the ones we should watch out for. These stories are what mould our mindset. They give rise to fear or courage. Depending on how you weave your tale, it could hinder you from reaching your full potential or propel you to great heights.

I tell myself a story every single day: I can do anything that I set my mind to and I will succeed. I am intelligent. I am enough. I am complete. It is okay to be me. It feels good to be me. I am beautiful. I am a blessing to my children. I will always be true to myself. I live my life to the fullest. I won’t compromise my values. Each day is a privilege and I’ll live my life the best way I know how. This is my ONLY chance to do EVERYTHING I could ever do. I am not perfect, but then again, I am human. I need people. I matter. Everyone is important. I will get to where I am going.  I will make my dreams come true. And, get this; I will live happily ever after!

How about you? What do you feed your mind? At the dead of night, when sleep eludes you, what are the stories you tell yourself? Do you put yourself down to the point that you find it hard to pick yourself up from bed in the morning? Do you lie to yourself to the point that you don’t recognize yourself anymore? You may not realize it yet, but these stories you tell yourself repeatedly, they eventually manifest themselves into your daily habits. You become who you think you are. If you tell yourself that you cannot walk out of a bad relationship, you will always be a victim. If you tell yourself that you are not strong enough to make it on your own, then you will never stand on your own feet. If you are convinced that you can never get bigger or better, you won’t. Period.

That story will either build you or destroy you.

Try changing your story. Then make it come alive. Tell me if your life will not be so fulfilling that nothing will ever scare you again. I dare you.

Do have a fearless week!

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