Stories I Tell Myself

CC image courtesy of Jennifer on Flickr.

CC image courtesy of Jennifer on Flickr.

I've been realizing lately just how hard I am on myself. There are so many stories about my life and what I am or am not capable of that I have constructed and allowed to corrupt my head space. Stories like...

“I have too much student debt, I’ll never be able to own a home.”

“It’s too late to go back to school, it won’t make a difference anyway.”

“Most of my family members are overweight or obese, my body will never be the way I want it to.”

“I’ll probably never get a promotion or make more money.”

Sound familiar? I can’t be the only one with a bad case of doomsday brain. It’s no wonder I've had such a hard time reaching my goals lately - every time I get started on something I talk myself right back out of doing it because I’m certain I’m going to fail anyway, so why bother?

That’s not true though, is it? Because almost seven months ago I quit drinking, and almost six months ago I gave up smoking. Just over four months ago I decided it was time to find a workplace I could feel really really good about working for, and I did that too. So what’s different about these other goals that makes them so difficult? I have a pretty good idea.

I am obsessed with the end result. When I think about owning a home I think about having a beefed-up savings account and going shopping for houses, not the steady progress I’m making in paying down my debt so I can start saving more. When I think about going back to school I envision finally having a degree, not the process of submitting my application and enrolling in one class at a time. Likewise for fitness and moving up at work; I’m too busy thinking about being able to lift heavy shit and moving up the pay scale that I forget about the everyday work involved, the small decisions that are going to get me there. By focusing too much on where I want to be in the long term I've let myself become frustrated with where I am right now.

When I first quit drinking I took everything a minute at a time. I sat with the agony of withdrawal and let myself feel the anxiety of having an itch in my brain that I just couldn't scratch. I let all of the discomfort in and forced myself to feel it and have patience. Minutes slid into hours, hours slid into days, and all of those days eventually grew into months. I wrote and I read and eventually, both in the blink of an eye and over a span of time that could have been forever, I made it here. My goal of being someone who is no longer a slave to alcohol - who no longer feels she has to drink to be accepted, and who no longer fears that one day all of the bad things she has done to her body are going to catch up to her - has been realized. Holy shit. I made it. If I can do that, I can do anything.

I can do anything. Now that is the story worth telling.

What stories do you tell yourself?