Every day we have a number of feelings that come up. These feelings are in reaction to our experiences, environment, memories, and thoughts. Have you ever considered that our feelings are also in reaction to our internal stories?
Whether you know it or not you are a storyteller. We all have stories about ourselves that have built up over time. Some elements of those stories are based on truth, but a lot of the stories we tell ourselves are not. They are based on judgments we have internalized, false perceptions that we have taken on as true. For instance, someone who believes they are lazy because they have been told that in the past by parents and teachers. In reality, they struggle with mental health symptoms as well as esteem, shame, and fear so there is a motivation challenge but the person is not “lazy,” meaning they have no desire or willingness to change. If the internal story is that they’re lazy, however, then this becomes truth and action will follow suit. They will feel dispirited and unmotivated because they will not have the confidence to try.
It is important to process our emotions. We can do this by simply asking how we are feeling, or by writing, art, talking, or other expression. It is also important to familiarize ourselves with the stories that these feelings are based on. This is done by exploring what you tell yourself about yourself.
What is the internal narrative? Are you driven? Nice? Pretty? Shy? A loser? Lame? Ugly? Never going to find love? Not going to be successful? Amazing? Awesome? Can do no wrong? There is likely grains of truth in all of these statements, but there is also a lot of fantasy and story-telling. It is important to be honest with ourselves about who we are, what we are capable of, and our strengths and vulnerabilities. Get to know the stories and you will get to know the truth about who you are.
By Paige Abbott, Registered Psychologist (www.holisticpsychologycalgary.com)