By Quinn Nystrom, MS

Every day, people create narratives about their lives in their minds. These narratives are the stories they tell themselves about who they are, where they came from, and what they want.

Many of these stories are positive and encouraging, but the real truth is that most of the narratives we tell ourselves are pretty self-limiting and they can be traced way back to a time that was also our most vulnerable and awkward time; childhood. Before we know it, we’ve passed adolescence and reach adulthood still carrying those past observances (from ourselves or others) like a messy and stifling brick backpack. Only now instead of telling ourselves we are no good at dodgeball or drawing a turkey, we convince ourselves that we are horrible with money or “have no motivation” when it comes to changing our physical health.

Starting today, right now, I’m encouraging you to let go of these debilitating old stories and cut the straps off your brick backpack. At this very moment, we are going to “do a Taylor Swift” and “shake it off.” It’s time to let the heavy burden of self-doubt go so we can make room for the things that make us soar.

 

Identifying Your Brick Backpack

But first, I know for a fact that people can’t shed an old story until they understand why they are holding onto it.

For example, if you tell yourself you’re horrible with money and could never own a business because of it, it’s time to kick that debilitating notion to the curb. Shake off that B.S. and take action instead. Check into things like bookkeeping classes, online business classes, or even consider outsourcing that part of your dream. Sometimes we hang onto these old beliefs for no other reason than they keep us playing it safe. As long as we tell ourselves we can’t run a business or become more social, it relieves us of the pressure of fear of stepping out of our comfort zone. If that’s the case, own it…and change it.

Keep Only The Stories that Bring You Joy:

All of us have things in our past that are less than rosy. Every human being on this planet has done something they are not so proud of. However, that doesn’t mean we have to relive and recall them regularly. A big part of keeping our focus on the future is actively making the choice to not let ourselves get dragged back to the past.  Accept that there’s nothing you can do or say that will improve a situation that happened months, years and even decades ago. Accept your past…and leave it there.

Have a Year of Yes

Anyone who is a fan on Grey’s Anatomy has likely heard of executive producer, Shonda Rhimes. In 2007, Rhimes was named TIME magazine’s 100 People Who Help Shape the World, but what people didn’t know was that she was also the self-proclaimed expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. It all came to a head in 2013 when Shonda’s sister muttered something in frustration that was a wake-up call. The comment was, “You never say yes to anything.”

Rhimes, the youngest of six children from a supremely competitive family, knew that her sister was absolutely right and it was time for a change. In that moment, Rhimes decided to embrace the challenge and for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her. The story of this journey led to her 2015 book, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person.

So, Rhimes shook off her brick backpack and shed old beliefs. She felt the fear and did it anyway. Maybe it’s time for your Year of Yes.

So, How Do I Let Go, Really?

When you look back on your life, you may see things that upset you. Perhaps spending was out of control or you neglected your family. Maybe your parents were unkind to you or made choices that forced you into some pretty dark places. One of the reasons that old stories can have such power over you is because actions and behaviors in the past can have long-reaching consequences.

These past experiences tag along for the ride into adulthood unless you do the work to “bless and release” those memories; memories that possibly leave you wondering what was wrong with you back then. The first step is to acknowledge those troubling facts of your life story, know that we are all human and make mistakes, and choose not to let those past chapters write your future story. Hanging on to past hurts or false assumptions will only result in present-day stories that keep you stuck in your pain.

However, if you want to move forward and write a new story, you have to acknowledge and make peace with your past. It’s not easy by any means, but letting go of old stories sets you free.

This I know for sure.

Also, that freedom will give you the energy that will help you see the world in a new way. It also helps you create space for more of what you love and want in your life. If an old story has a grip on you, maybe it’s time to drop it. You deserve to live a beautiful life filled with new stories that bring you joy.