I was watching Oprah’s Lifeclass the other night and author and speaker Iyanla Vanzant was talking about changing the stories that we tell ourselves.

Oftentimes these stories are true. They are parts of our life and parts of our past that happened. Yes, you have been hurt and mistreated and lied to and cheated on and stolen from and stepped on. Yes, your childhood was far from stellar and you weren’t treated as well as you should have been by your parents. Yes, you have had trouble speaking up for yourself and have been walked on by others because of that. Yes, your health isn’t great and you have battled one illness after the other. Yes, you lost a lot of money in the stock market when the economy tanked. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. These are all facts. No one is denying that.

But by staying in these stories, you’re staying in the past. By staying in these stories, you’re making it next to impossible to move on and create a new story. By staying in these stories, you’re deciding to remain a victim. I know that these are harsh words, but they are true. Believe me, I know. I have stayed in my own disempowering stories for years.

But what I’m realizing is that if we continue to blame the circumstances of our past, we never have to take responsibility for our present and future. Our life will always be more of the same. If you have always been that way, then you are giving yourself a way out – you’ll never have to step up and change, right? But I know that I want to change, and I suspect that you do as well. Staying stuck in these stories is keeping us from moving forward into our dream lives – the lives that we feel we were born to live.

One thing that I find particularly fascinating about our stories is that we’ve carried them around for so long that we just assume they are our own. And yet, oftentimes they aren’t ours at all. They have been handed down in our family or given to us by society or projected onto us from someone who didn’t realize what they were doing – didn’t realize how impressionable we were and how powerful words can be.

If we dissected each story that we tell ourselves and others, we could begin to see where it came from.

Oftentimes these stories are passed down from generation to generation:

“In our family, we don’t go to college. We are hard workers, but we aren’t book smart.”

“In our family, we are prone to depression. It’s just in our genes.”

Sometimes we have unspoken stories in our family that are just beneath the surface:
“It’s not okay to show emotions. If we are upset, it’s better to stuff it down and deny feeling this way.”

“Money doesn’t come easily. We have to struggle to have it, and even then it slips through our fingers.”

Other times, someone told you a story when you were a child, and you accepted it as your own:

“You’re not very smart. Learning is hard for you. You probably won’t get very far in life.”

“You’re very frail and sickly. You’re going to have a hard life just trying to stay healthy.”

Sometimes, our stories come from society:

“The world is a violent place – no one can be trusted.”

“The recession is making it hard for anyone to get by and prosper.”

“The chances of making a living from your business are slim to none. It’s better to play it safe and go get a ‘real’ job.”

And sometimes, our stories come from a small part of ourselves that is afraid of change – afraid to fly toward our dreams:

“Change is hard. It’s better to just stay in this comfortable place – even if I am not completely happy because who knows what will happen if I leave the known.”

“I am not really worthy of much – why do I even bother trying?”

“I am too shy to take the stage – even if I have a message to share, it’s just too much of a stretch. And who would want to hear me talk anyway?”

Sometimes our stories are events that happened to us:

We were abused.
We were fired.
We have/had a serious illness.

Sometimes our stories are made up from our behaviors:

We are afraid of commitment.
We are super emotional.
We are scatterbrained.

But what every single story has in common is the fact that we can let go of it if we choose to. We don’t have to carry these stories around any longer. We can decide to create new stories that we tell ourselves and share with the world. And we can decide that right now.

I have decided to change my story.

These are some of the stories that I have repeated throughout my life:

I am shy. I have extreme stage fright. I don’t push through fears. I say no when I am given the opportunity to shine. My body is fragile. I am not able to physically do what most people can do. I have to treat myself with kid gloves a lot of the time. Money doesn’t come easily to me. I feel strange accepting money for sharing my gifts. You have to work hard and struggle to achieve in life.

I have begun to form my new story. Here is what I have so far:

I am grateful to be a part of this beautiful world. Everything flows easily to me and from me, including love, money, health, and happiness. I embrace every way that I can share my message with others, and I know that I am always supported by the universe each and every time I step into the public arena. I am strong – body, mind, and spirit. And I am always loved.

Now it’s your turn.

Write down the story that you’ve been telling yourself and others.

And then write down your new story. Your empowering, positive, uplifting, story. The one that you will feel proud to share. And then come back and share it with us on my blog, Soul Speak. We’re all waiting to hear it. :)

Author's Bio: 

Jodi Chapman is the author of the inspirational blog, Soul Speak; the upcoming book, Coming Back to Life: How an Unlikely Friend Helped Me Reclaim My True Spirit; and the bestselling Soulful Journals series, co-authored with her amazing husband, Dan Teck.