I was listening to some music and the song by Major Lazar, “Lay Your Head on My Shoulder” came on, and there were a few parts that really stood out for me. They were
“… And every single scar that you claim
Is a stone in the path to this place
And every single choice that you made
Has led you this way, …”
“… And every single choice that you made
Was a stone in the path to this place
And every single cut that you claim
Has led you this way, …”
“Every single scar you claim, every single cut you claim are a stone in the path to this place.” I thought, wow that is powerful and feels very true. When we make claim to our story, it can be a very powerful tool for healing and moving closer to becoming our true self. Every single choice we make in our lives leads us to where we are. Claiming our truth and our story is really taking our power back.
Claiming Our Truth
Why is this important? It is about not allowing others to write your story or keeping their versions of your story. It makes me think just how important it is for us to take claim to our story and not allow others to dictate our truth. What does this mean? It is not allowing others to set the stage. “You are this or that”. We can start believing what others say about us. “You are quiet and smart, you are loud and irresponsible, you are not as smart or talented as your sibling or it’s a good thing you are pretty since you aren’t very smart or a good thing you are smart since you aren’t pretty like your sister”. It could be anything that someone else decides is true about us and we just accepted it. We get stuck in some of these stories about ourselves. Maybe it had been true at some point but not anymore. We don’t have to accept what others may or may not believe about us. These old stories that have not been true for a very long time, or ever. But we may be the most important person and the harder one to convince.
What are the stories you are telling yourself? Does the story still serve you or is it time to break free and create a new, more accurate story? It can be hard peeling back all the old beliefs and just where they came from and if they are even true. They may have been true at some point but continue to be part of your identity.
I think it is so important to claim our story and not let others tell us who we are supposed to be or try to act as others see us. If you come from trauma that part of you may not feel like it is something you even want to claim. But if we don’t take claim to everything then others get to twist and tell an inaccurate version, or we allow ourselves to remain in that shadow which will not reflect our truth. We need to reflect our own truth. I said this in another blog, we certainly do not need to give credit to our traumas, or those who harmed us, but we do need to take control of the narrative for ourselves and allow it to be written by us and not someone else.
What deeply ingrained beliefs are you holding on to about yourself that just are not true? Guess what? We can re-edit those old beliefs we have held onto our whole life whether imposed by others or by us putting meaning into something that happened to us as a child that does not hold any reality. Sometimes they may be overt messages and sometimes indirect messages from parents and teachers. If your 2nd grade teacher told you were slow or made a side comment that you were dumb that may have become part of your narrative. Maybe you have a sibling that is super smart, and an overachiever and you were told you are the pretty one, the funny one, or the athlete. That may have become your narrative that you can’t do something or try something that may be intellectually difficult because you aren’t smart enough while your sibling feels that they must always be successful, and they aren’t allowed to ever make a mistake or fail. Regardless as an adult we do have a choice and the power to change that. We can break free.
Discovering False Narratives
What if you are unsure what your narratives are? Some clues that there is a misalignment will be your triggers. For example, you are at work, and someone says, with no harm intended, “You are working slow today”, “No, I think that is wrong” or it could be anything. Does it feel devastating to you when someone says something to you or about you? What is happening that you feel wounded by it, that someone just put a knife through your heart with their words? It is time to be a detective about your life and discover your truths. “What is going on that a comment just felt like you have been taken off your feet?” Some more questions to ask yourself are: “When I am criticized, I feel ….”, “If I make a mistake, I feel ….”, “When someone ignores me, I feel ….”, “If someone challenges me, I feel ….”, “If someone is mad at me, I feel….”.
We really must step back from the child point of view to an adult point of view. If we can bring the adult perspective, we will see it clearer. For example, a friend convinces you to learn a new dance that you have never tried before even though you feel very vulnerable to put yourself out there. You decide to try it, but you struggle with it, and someone laughs when you trip over your feet. Then you feel devastated and tell yourself, “I should never even have tried that, I’m so clumsy, I just can’t do anything like this”. But then you step back and realize, what you are feeling is your 12-year-old self who went through a growth spurt and got pretty awkward. Ever since then your family has referred to you as clumsy and has continued to call you the clumsy one your whole life even though you are graceful most of the time and have been so for quite some time. But the narrative in your family has always been you are the clumsy one. That narrative of being the clumsy one in your family had become part of your story but it can be changed. You can change the narrative to “We are all clumsy sometimes”. Or maybe “This just is not my dance”. When we step back, we start to see more clearly and have choices. You can decide that you will stay and continue learning this new dance and laugh through it or you can say maybe I will never be good at this but it is so much fun so I’m going to do it anyway. Or maybe you try a different dance next time. It is about shifting that old belief and no longer keeping those old narratives anymore.
Changing The Narrative
It is okay, however long it has taken you to take back your story. Bring in some self-compassion when you look at this because it can be a bit much when we realize that we have been reacting to untrue messages that we have internalized. We are all on our own journey and it takes as long as it takes. Awareness is always the beginning of everything; then comes growth and then change.
What does not serve you, needs to go. Re-edit your story and claim your truth. We can claim our story and our truth once we start to become aware of what old versions of ourselves are outdated and/or just false. Once we start to rewrite our stories the power moves into our hands. We are no longer players in someone else’s play of our lives.
Is it time to start writing a new version of the story for yourself? And deciding what you want to change about your story? What do you need to do to make sure it is in alignment with who you are now or who you want to be? There may be healing that needs to happen but don’t worry about convincing others. It is really you who needs to be convinced. It is time for you to cut away the old and start the new script. Rewrite and change whatever you need to. Your life’s journey is yours and you can transform it.
Once you make the changes and rewrite your narrative, don’t feel discouraged that others may still be stuck in the old versions of who they think you are. Once we have healed and let go of that old story, others’ power over us goes away though it may pop up occasionally. But when it does, you will have the awareness on your side. You will certainly notice if others are still stuck in the old story, but you will do it as an observer, no longer a participant in it. But remember it is a process and as you are moving through it you may slip and be pulled back initially but with love and compassion you will recognize what is happening and use it as a needed lesson to help move you towards healing. We can make changes whenever we are ready to. We can do as many rewrites as possible and re-edits as we need to, because it is your story, and you get to write it.
Photo by Eric Ward
Original Post November 01, 2021 on Karen Gentilman’s website Illumination Counseling Service.
Karen Gentilman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) practicing in the State of Idaho, working for 30 years with many different medical conditions both acute and chronic conditions, the last 20 years in neurological rehabilitation including brain injury, strokes and spinal cord injuries. She takes a trauma-informed, integrated and holistic approach with utilizing multiple modalities which is individually based while striving to provide compassionate therapeutic environment. Call (208) 266-4642 or email KarenGentilman@IlluminationCounselingService.com to set up a FREE 15-minute consultation. Visit Karen Gentilman’s profile page.