2. THE STORIES YOU TELL YOURSELF. The stories you choose to hold on shape your life.


I am an orienteering athlete and a trail runner. I have started running occasionally by the age of 12 and kept going until today. I am 48 now.
Ever since, I have been running at the same pace. I evolved by taking longer and more challenging distances and courses – like adventure races and ultra trails – and working harder. What I thought hard work was, considering the mindset I’ve had at the time. 
The thing is I did not evolve at all about my running pace. Because I was convinced that I am a slow runner. I have also convinced myself that my strength came from enduring for several hours, day or night or in extreme weather conditions. These are some of the stories I have told myself for over 3 decades.

Four years ago, I have learned to monitor my heart rate to improve my running. I have realized for the first time that I was running up to 130 bpm (beats per minute). I was totally on my comfort zone! So I have scaled it to 140 bpm or more and in less than a month I was able to reduce one minute per kilometre on my running pace. By changing the narrative and the story I was telling myself, I was able to accomplish what I thought was impossible. The good news is that the other belief I’ve hold on to lead me to experience life time unique challenges and adventures, mostly related with exploring nature and the unknown.

What are the beliefs that support the meaning for our stories? How much of it is related with our learning experiences and society expectations? 
I really like the famous elephant and the rope story to illustrate this idea. Once upon a time, as a man was passing by the elephants, he suddenly stopped confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason they did not. The man saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well, when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and at that age, it is enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.
We are shaped by the stories we tell ourselves. Every time we change the narrative about our stories, we are generating new beliefs. If we do it intentionally, we are re-authoring ourselves towards a more meaningful life.  

The influence of the stories we tell ourselves are deeply rooted in traditions and beliefs that we learn and are exposed to over and over again while growing up. Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people. This quote made me laugh! And then go deeper about it. I value tradition tremendously but I also believe we should question the things we hold on to from the past, its consequences and purpose for the world and the person we are today. And this is why we question and fight against ancient traditions like female genital mutilation or India’s caste system.
Do not hold yourself hostage to the stories you have told yourself in the past. They have served a purpose to a younger version of yourself and no longer serve you. While reframing and re-authoring your stories, avoid attaching never again or always to your statements. These worlds will limit your present options and are based in a need to fix or heal something from the past. Remember that change is about interrupting the habits and patterns that no longer serve you.

 If you want to meaningfully alter your life, you don’t simply abandon a dysfunctional habit or belief; you replace it with a healthy one. You choose what you’re moving toward. You find an arrow and follow it. As you begin your journey, it is important to reflect not only on what you’d like to be free from, but on what you want to be free to do or become (Edith Eva Eger).

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