I was in the middle of cleaning my kitchen one morning I realized that I was singing and dancing along with the Zac Brown Band’s song ‘Chicken Fried’. This may not mean something of great significance to you, however for me, a lifelong hater of all things country music, it was a big moment.
You see, this marked the time where I had finally given up the story I had been holding on to for many years. The truth was, if I am being honest, I actually liked country music but for some reason I behaved otherwise.
We all have our stories that we attach ourselves to and identify with. Of course there are things that we legitimately dislike, however when we are being truthful to ourselves, there’s likely a long list of things/people/places and ideas that we shy away from because of the story we tell ourselves.
Many of these stories are born out of our familial and social connections. In order to fit into the group we so desire to belong to, we may adopt some of the beliefs of others.
At the very least, we put up with their version of the story while in their presence, and while with others, we may let our guard down.
The following are 3 such examples of stories I struggled with until I finally decided to let them go and when I did, I learned that I was missing out for a long time.
- Reading – I love to read but for many years I had no interest in it. As I was in school, I remember doing book reports after only skimming through the books or asking fellow students what the story was about. Reading to me was boring and it took me forever to get through the books I was required to read.
I attribute my dislike of reading to the lack of reading skill for the most part. As I look back now, I see that the story I told myself was created by my ego. My inner critic was brought forward to keep me from feeling frustrated at how poorly skilled I was at flowing through books like my peers.
The other side of this story is that the books I was asked to read in school were not interesting to me so I dismissed them as boring and unimportant. Once I found something to connect to I quickly became an avid reader. In my early 20’s, soon after I decided to take care of my health, I was very interested in self help books, holistic nutrition and stories about people who have overcome life’s struggles to do something great.
Fast forward to today, I love to read and I attribute this enjoyment to connecting to the content, letting go of the story I held about reading as a hobby and most importantly, allowing myself the opportunity to improve in my reading skills so that I can actually enjoy the process and learn from the books I read.
- Being a Dad – If you know me, I love my kids and I love being a dad. You may be surprised to hear that prior to the girls coming along, I didn’t want to be a dad, or at least that was my story once again. As I mentioned earlier, we all hold back from things that we are unsure of, and for many people, becoming a parent is a frightening responsibility to commit to. In my early 20’s I met my wife and we went into marriage in agreement that we did not want children. Eventually, we started having the conversation about children and I have to admit, they were very uncomfortable times because I was not willing to be open or more important, vulnerable enough to have the necessary dialogue.
I can admit now that I was afraid. I was afraid of the thought of my kids seeing me struggle with epilepsy and worse, I was afraid of what may happen if I were to pass the dis-ease on to them. This of course is out of my control, however I certainly held on to it for years, but now that I am 8 years into parenthood, I know we made the right decision.
Similar to my dislike of country music and reading, it was all my ego trying to protect me from the unknown. I’m grateful I would eventually follow my instinct to be the best dad I can because as I look back at the past 8 years and I have many great memories of time spent with the girls.
- Being Right – For as long as I can remember, I have always disliked conflict, and when I was told that I was in the wrong, or that I had something to work on, I would immediately build a wall. In fact, I was more likely to lay blame on anyone or anything else before accepting that I could possibly have something to learn. After years of fighting the inevitable, I decided to walk a new path and as I wondered further down the trail of accepting that I am not perfect, I’ve learned to let things go much easier and that has been a great source of release in my life.
We all have things that we can work on, and as we recognize that this is our opportunity to be open to new ideas or new ways of living we can find ourselves dancing in the kitchen to a genre of music that we once thought we disliked.
Whatever it is that you are willing to open up to and let go of, it may help to ask yourself a few questions such as:
- Where in my life do I struggle and what causes this struggle?
- What, within me, am I willing to work on so that I can let go of the stories I have been clinging to?
- What have I changed in the past and how can I learn from that experience to help me with letting go of my current stories?
Call to Action:
Reflect on the questions above and develop a plan to create change in one area of your life. It could be as simple as considering a genre of music or as complex as your overall outlook on life. Give the plan some specific guidelines such as a date to see significant change or specific behaviour goals that will help you live intentionally along the way.
Once you develop your plan, find someone in your life who can work with you such as an accountability partner or coach and get started living intentionally!