There are those stories passed on through generations – we have them today, we did since the dawn of times. In the past, we would call them legends, folk stories, myths. Communities that passed on the narrations derived wisdom from them. Based on the stories, some behaviors and patterns were deemed 'priceworthy', while the other ones ‘to be condemned’. Those stories gave foundation to the development of the personalities of individuals and allowed families and groups of people to bond and to share some common beliefs. Sounds pretty noble, right?
With the time passing, I discovered more of those stories being apparent in my life, and I have to admit I wanted to let go of many of them. They didn’t serve me.
There are multiple layers of the stories we have heard from our parents, peers, authorities, people of the same nationality, or gender. Those stories become our stories, and hence we believe them to be coming from within. If something arrives from within, we typically treat it as an enlightened truth, which might be misleading…
Here are some of the stories I used to say to myself.
Being smart guarantees success
I remember being told from a very early age that I am smart. I picked up things quickly at school, whatever sport or craft I decided to pursue, I very quickly was able to take it to the level of proficiency that other kids could not achieve that quickly. Then, I usually dropped every new passion, quite abundantly. Why? When I faced some obstacles, I stopped going to the practice to abandon the craft soon after. No one told me that to master a skill, I need to work hard and that there will be challenges – not that there might be some challenges, but that there WILL be challenges, for sure. I just though that it’s enough to be smart and be picking up things quickly. It wasn’t enough.
The story: To succeed in life one needs to be smart and knowledgeable.
Lesson learned: Being smart and knowledgeable help, but only by taking action and through repetition one can master a skill, grow their business and become successful.
If you don’t have money, you just don’t have it.
I remember my father’s response when I asked if I could get the money for an English course I wanted to attend as a kid - It’s always was the same – ‘no, we don’t have the money for that’. It made me believe that we don’t have the money and that it was a normal thing for my family not to have enough money, and that’s something I should get accustomed to.
The story: To progress in life, you need to have the money. If you don’t have the money, that’s it – you can not improve.
Lesson learned: If you want to progress in life and your idea/business/dream requires money to get it started, you will find it and will proceed with anything you wish. If you want something hard, you will find the way, despite the lack of money.
PS. My dad is an awesome man - it's just his perception of money that was problematic..;)
Your cultural heritage (or baggage) defines who you are
As a kid, teenager, and a young adult, I traveled a lot, all despite what my dad was saying about us ‘not having the money’ for literally anything I wanted to do. Whatever country I arrived in, I was immediately classified as ‘something’ after announcing my nationality.
In Canada in early 2000’ me and 20 other kids from a choir I sang in were treated as ‘poor kids from Eastern Europe’ (for which we would receive a a lot of money in donations back then...).
In Germany, I would always hear that Poles are thieves.
When I moved to London and was continually being asked if I was a cleaning lady – as that was an image of a Polish woman in the UK.
In America, I usually hear two types of connotation with my nationality, Polish = religious (thanks to John Paul the II, a fantastic person, BTW), or Polish = has something to do with Auschwitz. Sometimes, people have a very vague picture of Poland as a roughed-up country in Eastern Europe that took hits from all neighbors possible (and hence the entire nation is being identified as those poor little ones who deserve pity, rather than admiration and recognition for the deeds).
The story: Your nationality defines you. Depending on your country of origin, you were born to show up in a certain way in the world, to be doing certain things and to identify yourself as one of many others to repeat the same patterns coded in your subconscious national mind.
Lesson learned: You choose to follow a pattern you are familiar with or to break it. You decide who you want to become, despite your national history passed through the generations.
I sometimes catch myself repeating some other stories – the key is to identify them, as only then, one can assess if they are accurate at all.
What is your story that you want to let go of? :)