The Stories We Tell Ourselves (Part II)

Part II – Self Identity

“Your beliefs are the stories about yourself that you have accepted to be true…so you can decide to change the stories.”

Kevin Horsley

How do you define your personal identity?

For most, it likely stems in part from self image — your beliefs about the type of person you are and how you differ from others.

It’s shaped by your family, your upbringing, where you’re from, the culture of your community and broader nation, as well as the various friends you make along the way.

It’s shaped by your experiences, and where you see yourself fitting into the world around you. It’s shaped by external pressures to be or act a certain way.

But what is your identity really? A collection of stories that come from yourself and from others. Data points in your mind that tell you who and what you are.

We don’t often view our identities as a collection of stories. 

Last week in Part I, I talked about how as humans, we all have this strong need to make sense of the world around us.

We create stories based on our experiences that serve as coping mechanisms which we use to help us deal with the uncertainty of life. These stories get strengthened over time and as we continue to experience life.

They form our understanding of the world, and become the basis of our beliefs.

So too do our stories begin to define the way we see ourselves, our very beliefs about ourselves–in very powerful ways.

In many ways, they are empowering and positive. But when we focuses on our insecurities, we can become trapped in our current draft.

I’m not smart.

I’m not a morning person.

I’m not cut out for college.

I’m unloveable.

I always forget things.

I’m not flexible.

I’m lazy.

As Kevin Horsley says, “most people don’t realize when they use doubtful phrases, they are setting standards for themselves. These standards become expectations and eventually self-fulfilling prophecies.

I love the idea that our identities are tied to stories. 

That one simple word makes it feel like it’s so much more within our control to re-write the parts we have come to accept, but that we don’t like. 

We are all free to choose what we focus on. What beliefs we choose to carry with us through our stories.

Our stories are not set in stone. What we believe to be true about ourselves can always change.

Our stories can always change.

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