The Stories That Keep Us From Growing: How Suffering Never Helped
I have a friend who suffers. I can see that she puts on a brave face. I can see that beneath it there’s a lot of heartache. I can see that there’s anger. I can feel that she wants to scream at some people but smiles instead. I can feel the resentment beneath the kindness she so perfectly displays. I can feel that she holds the world up on her shoulders. I know she thinks no one really understands. I know she won’t let anyone else help carry the load.
She is caught beneath the pain of everything. I can see it and I can feel it. It hurts.
She reminds me of myself. Jeez, I struggled. I had these horrible memories from childhood that played in the back of my mind. I’d constantly think, “no wonder I’m so messed up”. I had shitty genes that made me angry and depressed. I witnessed a lot of substance abuse and got mixed up in it myself. I worked hard but everyone else took advantage of me. I was brought up seeing toxic relationships and then didn’t know how else to be in a relationship. I kept creating more toxins, more pain, more suffering. I’d keep reminding myself of all these reasons I was so sad, angry or disappointed with parts of my life. All of the reasons were so raw and so valid.
I was a victim and I played the role so perfectly. It’s not like I wanted to. It’s just that it was the only thing I knew. I suppose it was easier to tell myself things had happened to me, rather than for me. It was easier to have an excuse than to take full accountability for everything in my life. Especially when things didn’t seem to be my fault.
Some of the stories I told myself stuck. I believed they defined me. It was a welcome blanket of excuses. It was so much easier to say that there were valid reasons for me not living a fulfilling and passionate life.
Who wants to admit that their life is a mess because they haven’t taken full ownership of their shit?
No, I’d much rather live in the anti-fairy tale I’d created. It was so convincing, I believed every word.
But somewhere beneath it all, there was deeper understanding that I could be more. There was a self-hatred that ruled my life because I wasn’t more. I just didn’t understand how to change.
It wasn’t a quick fix. When I finally started getting my life together, I started questioning my stories. It was only then that I began to see the holes. I began to see that I had the same mental resources as anyone else. I began to see that I had advantages so many people didn’t have. I began to see that experience and life lessons hadn’t broken me but made me resilient. I began to see that I could deal with what life threw at me. I began to see that I could accept what life threw at me. It was all part of what made me, me.
When I was younger, my stories felt tragic and the walls I built seemed impassable. Now my stories are much more mundane and don’t last long before I realise they’re just stories I’ve made up.
They’re much more like something out of a movie where the main character just can’t seem to see eye-to-eye with someone they need to get along with in order to live happily ever after. In this story, the main character spots the problem quicker. They spot the lie they told themself when they said it’s them, not me. They spot it and they work on it. They break down the wall they built. They try new tactics. They become the solution.
Realising that you can accept everything that happens in life and make the most of it is probably the biggest lesson I’ve ever learnt. It’s one I re-learn time and again.
I know life will always throw challenges. I know that I will continue to create stories of why I can’t do something or be something. I know that I will continue to spot and break down these stories. I know that I will continue to grow.
Having difficult times or making mistakes is all a part of becoming the person you need to be. Accept the journey for what it is. Find the lesson in everything and grow stronger.
I hope that my friend will see that the solution is within her. It’s when she stops holding the world on her own. It’s when she lets people help. It’s when she recognises that other people who are ignorant or rude have got nothing to do with her. That’s their journey. They’re probably in pain too. She can’t change others, but she can change how she accepts what others do.
I don’t want her to suffer. I know suffering only leads to more suffering. Life is so much more than that. I hope she’ll see it.
Steps to Uncover Your Stories and Move On:
- Do you have a long list of excuses for why things are the way they are? Think of something in your life that you just put up with. Maybe something that you’ve tried to change but can’t. Something you’re scared to change. Something that you feel resentment about. What is it that you keep telling yourself that keeps you stuck in this place? This is the hardest step and often a hard truth. It might take a lot of self-reflection, journaling or meditating to get to the bottom of it. That’s OK. There’s light behind it.
- Once you recognise a story that you’ve been telling yourself. Spend some time learning to accept it. Forgive yourself for any past mistakes. Give yourself compassion and love. Be grateful for the time you’re spending to work on it. You may need help with this one. Speak to a friend, family member or professional.
- Think of how you would approach the obstacle now that the excuse is no longer there. If it’s something you’ve carried for a lifetime, you may need some help uncovering solutions. Be kind to yourself and take small steps. Do you need to talk to someone? Do you need more time to heal? Do you need to be more honest with yourself moving forward? Do you need to be more honest with others about how you feel? Do you need to be vulnerable? Do you need to push yourself? Whatever it is, it can be broken down into small steps.
Tip: If there is someone or something that always upsets you, consider things that are within your control. Do you need to set boundaries? Do you need to speak your mind? Do you need to ask for help? It’s your responsibility to communicate well and stick up for yourself. No one else can do this for you.