Stories were used to preserve and share moments of important experiences so future generations could learn, expand upon, and avoid repeating the same mistakes as their predecessors. Stories contain the power and influence of the storyteller, and without even realizing it, we are our own best storytellers since it is based upon our unique perspective. This can be a doubled edged sword, because depending on how much experience we have had and if we developed the skills to self-assess and equilibrate the experience, we either end up carrying the wounds and traumas or are able to move forward living our lives in the present. I have observed this phenomenon not only personally but have witnessed it in the 24 years of my practice.

There is one such story that illustrates this point to the tee. I have a friend who loved his high school experience in the 1990s so much that even when he was in his mid 30s, he would dress, play music, and purchase memorabilia from the 90s. He would even style his hair like he did in the 90s. Fascinating as this was, he still functioned normally and ran his own successful business. However, he came to me because he had just become a father and had all these extra responsibilities weighing on him. He was having a hard time sleeping, had low back pain, and digestion issues. I’ve lost contact with him over the years, and I do hope that he was able to let go of his 90s fantasy and move forward in the present.

As we get older, if we don’t take the time to look at the stories that have conditioned and created our behaviors, we live our lives unaware of why we react to certain situations, and most often we get caught in a vicious cycle, instead of spiraling upward into growth and evolution. This is where the willingness to ask yourself if the old stories you keep telling yourself are true, or just an experience that you hold onto in order to protect yourself and use to keep functioning. One of the trickiest things to do is to confront your habituated stories, and determine if you still want them to run your life, or do you start to make conscious choices each moment to live your life in the present.

Do you have negative, self-defeating stories? Do you self-sabotage? These thought patterns may have been created by past challenges. Those challenges created a lack of confidence and belief in your ability to step into your power and truth. The stories that go through your mind ad nauseam prevent many from achieving their full potential. The truth of the matter is, your stories can either enslave you or set you free. The choice is yours to make.

We get so good at convincing ourselves that the stories we have created are true and rock-solid, rarely checking to see if they still apply to our current selves and sense of identity. Take this time to ask yourself if this old story of not being smart enough, not good enough, and not deserving to be happy, is still valid. After you ask yourself if your stories are true, look for counterfacts that illustrate that the old story no longer holds water. The more often you visit these old stories and begin to debunk them, the grip they have on you start to lessen and go away.

The one thing about stories is that it helps to define who we are, but if those old stories begin to limit how we experience our lives and cause us to repeat actions that create dissonance versus harmony, know that you have the choice to change. Stories don’t have to dictate the way you live, but like writing, it can always be edited and a second or third edition can be created in its place. Be mindful of your thoughts. That conscious awareness will help you to retire old, outdated stories and create new ones in its place.