SoulBeing Blog

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The Stories We Tell

May 31, 2023 | General, Newsletter | 0 comments

SoulBeing Spring 2023 Newsletter

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of calling this “Spring Newsletter” because you didn’t get one sent out last month? (Raises hand). I have worked very hard to evict the perfectionist that still lives inside of me, but she found a way to weasel herself back in and was very mad at me about this one.

There’s a story I tell myself about my own worth.

Some of it comes from a childhood growing up in a society that values individualism and productivity above most other things. Some of it comes from my inherent ambition and desire to contribute. Much of it comes from the feedback loop between these two worlds: one internal and one external, that continued (and continues) to reinforce throughout my entire life that the more I “produce,” the “better” or more worthy in the eyes of society, I am.

The story usually goes something like this: “If I don’t get these three things done today, I am a failure. How are you taking a walk right now when there are emails to respond to? Did you get that contract signed by the deadline you had set? Wow, you can’t even hold yourself accountable. How about the doctor’s appointment you need to reschedule for your daughter? Did you make that call? Speaking of calls, have you returned the call to vet? Are you even an adult? How do you make it through the day? No wonder you didn’t meet that milestone. No wonder you argued with your husband last night. He probably doesn’t even like you. How could he? You can’t even get these three things done on your list.” And so on, until I intervene.

In this story, my worth is tied directly to my output. If productivity is the goal, then what exactly is the product? In the macro sense, my business success is the product. My children, and specifically their behavior and ability to conform to societal expectations, are the product. My marriage, my house, my bank account, my social status are the products.

This realization makes me very uncomfortable, as it highlights that I am confusing the most valuable parts of my life with things that I am responsible for “producing.” This produces a deep inner disconnect. It is true that in these moments of negative self-talk, my mind is a scary place to live. When the voice telling me to “get it done” gets loud, my anxiety spikes. I can often physically feel my cortisol and adrenaline ramping up. My mind becomes unfriendly and unsafe, and I know I need to stop the story. There are many tools for this: meditation, exercise, a good book or funny TV show. But my favorite way to stop the story is by connecting with others.

There is an ancient Inuit tradition of storytelling that spans generations, and I find it both romantic and awe-inspiring. Through the centuries these wise tribesmen would use the long hours of darkness that spanned much of their year to gather together and pass down myths, legends, and the history of their people. The stories are funny or practical, true or exaggerated, helpful or unhelpful, but they always hold a lesson or some nugget of wisdom for the listener.

Today, those of Inuit descent often still benefit from this enduring oral tradition. They are gifted with a perspective unique in our modern world, as they intimately understand their place in a long line of ancestors. They are resilient because they connect with stories of the resilience of their forefathers. They have hope because they have communal memories – the ability to remember important lessons through the passing down of tribal stories – of the countless times their people overcame impossible hardship. 

The storytelling tradition itself is also a gift, a way to connect in an isolating world.

Stories are powerful. They can be a potent tool for connection. They are how we understand the world. I know I want to continue to evolve my understanding of my role in the world, and I consciously take steps to change my thought patterns every day with this intent. I work to deliberately value the parts of my life that make it meaningful and let go of the ideas and stories I’ve accumulated that intertwine my worth with anything external. This allows me to focus on the work itself, rather than the end result.

What stories are you telling yourself? What stories are you telling others? How can we leverage this community to change the narratives we perpetuate around productivity and value?

I’d love to hear from you.


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