The stories we tell

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I’ve been spending a lot of time on the floor recently. My little one is learning to crawl and climb, so I alternate between being his climbing frame and his safety net when his balance lets him down (which, at 9 months, is a lot – and it’s the funniest thing. Sorry, son…)

This shift in perspective has got me thinking about the stories we tell ourselves. Baby B and I can be looking at the same thing, but our views are different – and sometimes, in life, I think we can choose between views, or stories, when it comes to what’s in front of us.

(Before I say anymore, there are situations that are just horrible whatever way we look at them, and this is not what I’m talking about here.)

I think back to this time last year when I was pregnant – it was such a special, sacred time, but one that was also filled with uncertainty and complication. In it, I often found myself at a crossroads: what story would I tell myself about what was happening? My physical difficulties (tachycardia and hypertension throughout my second and third trimesters) led me to feel like my body was letting me down. I felt I couldn’t trust it. And I felt that I was already letting my unborn baby down by not being able to carry on as ‘normal’.

These were natural ways to feel about a difficult situation, and it was important to acknowledge that.

But then I realised that the way in which I was viewing what was happening wasn’t the only way to see it. I learned that I could choose to tell myself a different story: that my physical complications were a result of my body working extra hard to keep my baby healthy, that it knew what it was doing. And that I wasn’t letting my baby down, but in slowing down and stripping life back a little, I was doing what was best for him.

This decision to choose a different story, which was a daily, sometimes hourly choice, led me to a more peaceful and hopeful stance – one which I benefit from still. I still have to trust my body as it nourishes my son and continues to heal from surgery. I still have to make decisions that prioritise presence and family and health. I’m glad this is my story now.

Choosing to consider the stories we tell ourselves, and change them when necessary, takes courage. But standing up to the untrue voices within and around us can bring new life, new possibilities, new hope. It’s different for everyone, but I find that my faith and values shape the stories I listen to, and the ones I tell. What about you?

As narrators in our stories, I suspect that every day, each of us is faced with dozens of decisions about which narrative to follow.  Whether it’s about our work, a relationship, our future, or simply how we’re going to make our next step: what is the story we are telling ourselves? Does it uphold truth and hope and life? If not, how can we choose to see this snapshot in a different light, to hear another voice, to write a different line?

 

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