Wednesday, 9 September 2015

midweek musing: the stories we tell ourselves

What stories do we tell about ourselves? And what trouble do we invite when we tell a false story about our self?

I am no good at money. 

Telling such a story of herself, a person might invite complacency, irresponsibility, or poor decision making in order to make the story true. A person might tie herself in knots with worry, bound by an unhealthy, untrue story restricting life.

Accepting such a story of another, a person might assume of her complacency, irresponsibility, or helpless dependence on others. A person might thus diminish the humanity of this other with disrespect and unseeing.

But what if this person – who may not like money very much, may not naturally hold figures and budgets well in her mind – has actually been living a different story for many years?
What if she told the story of how she has lived on an uncertain, fluctuating and limited income for her whole adult life without encountering a major financial disaster?
What if she told the story of how she has developed her ability to ask for help not as a helpless dependence on others, but out of recognition that she only has enough when she accepts the help of those with enough to share?
What if this person has learnt enough about herself to know what compromises she is prepared to make on ideals and quality and resources in order to survive; has learnt enough about the Sacred to trust the mystery and the humans living in this mystery with her and the promise of enough; has learnt enough about money and its gifts and curses to treat it with disdain and respect in healthy measure, a means to certain ends but not a goal for which to reach? What if she told that story?

For one who lives without money, the story of survival, of healthy dependence on others, of resourcefulness, resilience and riches of no monetary value is a story to encourage her endurance through continued hardship. This oft-neglected story is a celebration of the strengthening of previous limitations. This story might even be a story of hope for her family who are inclined to worry; hope and trust that, in fact, she can survive and even thrive, she can manage her resources, limited though they may be.

For one who lives a life of risk-taking and edge-dwelling, the false story of no good is likely to debilitate and discourage, make a hard life even harder: a story of such strength out of weakness, such growth and learning, is a story to embolden, encourage and enliven.

What stories do you tell about yourself that ring true no longer?

What stories can you tell about yourself to embolden and enliven, though you may need courage and insistence to hear them and be heard?

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