“I’m a professional; I don’t do this; I don’t do that; I can’t do that; this is not me” are some of the thoughts we all have had.
We create this identity of self of who we are, and in most cases, this identity is based on the stories of our past.
Maybe something did not work out a couple of times, and now our narrative is: “Well, I guess that’s not for me.” The worst part? We tell that to ourselves over and over again. Sometimes for years!
But we have to realize that these are just some random stories. These stories that may have happened in the time span of a few days of our whole life can’t possibly say anything about us.
And because these few mishaps become a narrative, it stops us from doing the things we want, thinking we’re not good at it or it’s not for us.
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
So, your past is not your future. Your stories are just stories; they don’t define you. You define you. Who else has more a say-so of what you can and can’t do than not you, yourself?
“No man is free who is not master of himself.”Epictetus
Besides, the “bad” things that might have happened are not the issue.
First, there’s no such thing as good or bad. Things just are as they are. Whatever happens, happens for a reason. Second, it’s how you perceive these events.
This is what the great stoic philosopher and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius talks about.
One of the big ideas of stoicism is to embrace things as they are. Pain is not worse than pleasure; good is not better than bad; life is not better than death. They all just “are”. Simply embrace how things are without judging them.
But we get stuck in our ego: “me this, me that, me, me, me, me!”; “This is my car, my jacket, my phone” or” why does this happen to me?” and so on.
Same with validation. Why can’t we tell ourselves that we’re good at something, why do we need the approval of others to tell us that? E.g., Instagram likes – if we get a lot of likes: “Yay, I’m awesome!” If we get a few likes: “Oh man, I must’ve done something wrong – why don’t people like this? I suck.”
If someone can give us approval, it means they can take it away. This means we’re defined by that. No approval = we suck; approval = we don’t suck.
But, these are just stories, perspectives, opinions and they’re not worth anything. Not in the bigger perspective. And by a bigger perspective, I mean the perspective of nature.
Does nature care what anyone thinks? No, it just does its thing. So, stop resisting, embrace things as they are, don’t put any labels on events, stop the negative self-talk (“This is not for me” etc.) and just do what you want to do.
You can choose to identify with what other people believe, or you can choose what you believe. You can’t control what other people say or do, but you can control what you do and how you perceive it.
You are not your stories.