Nothing in this world is permanent, including our stories. Yet we try to hold on to them for false security, which ultimately leads to sorrow and loss. Be willing to let go. Keep reinventing your story as you continue to grow.
~ Jen Sincero, author of You Are a Badass
Stories. We all have them. Security. We all don’t. So we cling to what’s familiar, perpetuating our stories despite a yearning for change.
The codependent can’t stop caretaking. The emotionally wounded continues to inflict blame. The addict won’t stop denying. The anxiety-prone avoids change. We say we want to stop, to change our lives or situations, but repetition compulsion won’t let us. It’s as if we’re trapped in a time warp reliving Groundhog Day — same old story, different day.
The truth is, our stories are constantly changing, yet when we resist change, we allow crisis or circumstances to dictate our fate. Why is this? What makes us resist? What causes us to feel incapable or fearful of change?
Well, “once upon a time” we didn’t have the power to direct the course of our lives. We were tiny tots, adorable but helpless, reaching out to others for safety and security. Our plot lines took shape in relationship to our parents or caregivers, individuals caught up in their own stories, often unaware of how their words and deeds impacted us.
Even if they didn’t see it, we surely did. As children, we’re exquisitely sensitive creatures, reading the world around us for clues on how to protect ourselves from harm or get the love we deeply crave. We sensed, we noticed, and then we adapted by formulating beliefs and behaviors to achieve our emotional goals.
For one child the story read: “Be invisible. Don’t cause problems. Don’t expose yourself to your father’s rage.” For another, the setting was framed within a backdrop of codependent care: “Step in. Do more. And you better not be selfish.” Another felt pressure to meet standards of perfection, fearing criticism from a mother who was very insecure.
The events of our stories varied greatly from one child to the next, but what was and still is similar, is the staying power of patterns that shape who we become. Over time, these familiar scripts turn into ingrained reflexes whose purpose is protective, even if the outcomes are at odds with what we want.
We don’t realize it, writes Jen Sincero, but we’re making the perks we get from perpetuating our stories more important than getting the things we really want because it’s familiar territory, it’s what we’re comfortable with and we’re scared to let it go.
Letting go is never easy, but we have to if we want to rewrite our “once upon a time.” Fear will play a part, but now as grown-ups, our power will too, that is, if we use our power to edit our plot lines instead of continuing to adapt to others’. We already have what it takes; we had it as children: the ability to sense what we deeply feel and notice what we’re frequently doing, most especially when the doing creates a false sense of security.
A quote by Anne Morrow Lindbergh sums it up perfectly: Only in growth, reform, and change (paradoxically enough) is true security found.