Our Stories Are Important Until They Are Not

In the, for want of a better term, human potential movement, a lot of energy is spent helping people find their stories. Twelve Steppers do it through their 4th step when they take a deep look at what hasn’t worked for them. Therapists earn money helping people uncover the damage they received growing up. Hypnotists help people find hidden memories. Hundreds of thousands of blank journals are sold every year, many bought by people who find their stories through journaling.

In this country where most have food and shelter, finding and telling our stories has helped so many of us come to terms with who we are.

But once we’ve discovered our story, then what? It’s possible to get stuck in our story in ways that are anything but healthy.

You know what I mean. If, after years of sobriety, I focus on how different I am than those who never had a problem with alcohol or drugs, I’m stuck in my story. If I can’t quite give up blaming my folks, I’m stuck. If I find myself saying things like “it always happens to me” I’m stuck.

And of course, the real problem with being stuck is it means we can’t move forward. We miss opportunities for growth, joy, and happiness because we’re focused on the past. We may also miss danger signals for the same reason.

Being stuck prevents us from being in the present moment, the only moment that really exists.

AA’s Big Book says, on page 83 of the 4th edition,

…We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it…

I think that’s where we want to be with our stories. We know them, we own them and we never forget them even as we let them go and move on. They are always there for us to draw on if we need them. That’s most likely to happen when we meet someone who has suffered in a way that’s similar to our suffering.

So how do you, or I, let our stories go?

For me it’s been a two-step process.

The first was the simple recognition that I could move beyond my story. Initially that was an amazing thought.

I doubt it was coincidence that as I began to accept I could let go of my story I began a real meditation practice – a very simple one, and a very short one, but one I practiced most days.

Each morning I would spend 10 minutes or so reading something I considered spiritual. Then, just sitting in the chair where I did the reading, I spent five minutes thinking about what I had read.

Just that much was enough to help me get in touch with the present moment, at least a little bit. It helped me to become, as I know it today, a bit more mindful.

I’m sure there are other ways to let go of story – tell us about yours.

Love and blessings,

Anne Wayman: When Grandmother Speaks


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy Miller March 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Hi Anne:

I finally stumbled over to your site. I will be re-releasing my personal blog soon so I used it here (instead of my business writing blog).

This post touches me on many levels. It starts with energy. There came a point in my life that I decided I did not want to expend the tremendous amount of energy it takes in being angry, judgmental, what have you. Negativity is so draining when there is so much more we can do with our lives.

Like your let our stories go, I try to let the negativity go. Of course, I am not always successful, but it is so much calmer and fulfilling when I succeed,

I wish the simple words Give peace a chance could magically transform the world. Maybe some day.

Have a great week, Anne.

annew March 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Waving… glad to have you here Cathy. Actually, we could both put Give peace a chance on our email sigs and on all our websites… think I’ll do that – want to join me?

Heid April 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm

“For me to allow resentments is to allow my present and my future to be controlled by others. I am a survivor of abuse. I am no longer a victim and I don’t want to be a volunteer to their continued control.”

I wholeheartedly agree that there are stories that need a “The End”!

http://wp.me/p1lmv2-2O Blogging about my recovery from alcoholism is helping me do just that.

I’m delighted to find your blog site. Just recently cleaned out my Google Reader and you were one of 3 previous feeds that I kept. So glad I did.

annew April 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Thanks Heid… glad you included me… great to be one of three.

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