Don’t get too caught up in the story.

When you’ve experienced hurt, loss and disappointment, it’s easy to become swaddled in the security blanket of the pain. You get used to telling the story in a particular way. And then you repeat it, again and again, and again.

And initially, this is OK. It’s to be expected given what you’ve been through. During this period, you need to tell that story and even identify yourself by it in order to mobilise you into doing what you truly need to do. It’s part of grieving and processing.

But telling untrue stories is also the repetition of pain, especially because they represent and reinforce old negative beliefs, judgements and stories from earlier in life. They speak to an identity, a role that you’re used to playing in your relationships. And this holds you back.

Recurring painful feelings are the result of untrue stories. And the problem with the repetition is that you don’t gain the much-needed perspective to grieve, reclaim yourself from the narrative and move forward.

Instead, by rehashing the story and defining you on it, you drag down your sense of self. You lose sight of your worth and innate ability to move on to a new chapter.

You have to become mindful of where you’re stuck in a story.

If it’s your lifelong habit to use stories to reinforce beliefs about your unworthiness and to internalise the blame for other people’s feelings and behaviour, that’s why there’s the potential for you to become stuck in this phase rather than grieve. The pattern represents lack of self-forgiveness and self-compassion.

Telling the story differently doesn’t change the fact that you were disappointed. That something or someone didn’t turn out as you hoped and expected. You might not be crazy about past decisions and actions (Hello! Welcome to being human!). But updating the story allows you to have self-compassion and to recognise what the experience is showing you.

Getting too caught up in the story causes you to reinforce the lie that you’re not ‘good enough’ or that you could have controlled the uncontrollable if only you’d done XYZ.

Notice where you keep repeating stories, especially longstanding ones, and especially about anything that’s causing you to feel stuck, play it small, or be far too hard on yourself. Because ultimately, the story isn’t the same as the truth, and it is the latter that will set you free.

Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to ‘please’ or protect yourself from others? My book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon), is out now.

The Joy of Saying No by Natalie Lue book cover. Subtitle: A simple plan to stop people pleasing, reclaim boundaries, and say yes to the life you want.

If you need help with rewriting your story and processing anger, download my free Unsent Letter Guide.

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