There's the stories we tell ourselves and the stories others tell us.
Close your eyes. Think of yourself for a moment as a six-year old blowing the seeds of a dandelion. What is one thing you believed about yourself when you were six? What was a wish you had?
Now take a deep breath. Are you able to identify a story someone else, probably from your family, was telling about you when you were six?
How do the two match up?
When I was six, I wanted to be an actress. But when someone calls me a drama queen, I know it isn't a compliment.
As long as I can remember, it stings when others insinuate I am making too big a deal out of something.
But at (almost) 50, I don't have a lot of control over others perceptions of me or the stories they tell. I only have control over the story I tell myself.
Here's an example.
I threw so many temper tantrums as a child and teenager (and some as an adult). Yes, this is fact about myself. But this was shameful, a worldview about disobedience...a moral issue...instead of need.
Now I believe and tell myself, "I needed something. I needed an authority to enter my world with comfort. I couldn't calm down by myself. I was trying to communicate something I intuitively knew but didn't have the language for."
As an adult when I feel like throwing something or verbally attacking someone, I know what I need to do. I need to find comfort and I need to figure out the underlying issue. If I or others judge myself as it being a moral issue and I don't do the work, the anger will only come out later with more of a chance of it being destructive.
See the difference?
What are the stories you tell yourself about the darker places of yourself...the places you want to keep hidden? How could you tell yourself a different story that would release you instead of weigh you down?
Sometimes, the only way we can see ourselves in a different light is to tell others our stories in an intimate setting.
It's been almost ten years since I shared my story about a particularly traumatic fallout of one of my temper tantrums with a small group. They shared, "This is what we hear instead." It took a loooooooooooooooong time for me to take their insight and massage it into my story so the shame, anger, and my identity around this reality about myself could be released into something that brought me freedom.
How do you need to release your story?
Here are some of the resources I used to begin my journey of understanding stories in a different light. These resources do have a Christian theological basis, but not one that is based in the belief in our inherent evil or shame. If this is still too triggering for you or too outside your beliefs, I offer a fiction read as well to get you started.
Caveat: I have not yet finished the read below, but began writing down quotes almost immediately. This is a fictional opportunity for exploring different ways to interpret our stories. P.S. It's really good as a page turner, too!