Stories. They are how we make meaning of the world. What happens in your life shapes who you are. The stories you tell about your experiences, the interpretative lens you put on the experience, shapes you more. Sometimes it is hard enough to remember that you are not your stories. It gets even more complicated when other people tell stories about you, to you and maybe to others, well intentioned or not, that they want you to believe, that may or may not reflect your own experience of who you believe or know yourself to be.
And it is, if you take a moment to think about it, surprising how many people have a need to tell a story about you or about other people. (Oh, and you do it too, just in case you thought this is all about “other” people. If you are honest with yourself, you will acknowledge you also tell stories about who other people are that you want to believe or you want them to believe – good, bad or indifferent.) It is a dynamic process of being in relationship – from intimate relationship to “I don’t even know that person but I’ve read what they’ve written or I’ve heard about them”.
Case in point, how much do we project onto celebrities without really knowing anything about them other than what the media, paparazzi and twitter feed would have us believe? Or, rich people for that matter? Lots of judgment. Lots of projection. Lots of blame, as if other people having money or success somehow directly affects whether you do or not. It’s actually not about them. The sooner you stop focusing on what’s not in your sphere of influence and start refocusing on what is, the sooner you reclaim your power, your sense of self, abundance and flow in your life.
Part of the way you learn to distinguish the stories you are telling of yourself – or the stories you own or need to own as ours – is in relationship and interaction with others. Others provide a reflection back to you of where you are in your journey. But it can be difficult to distinguish when it is a reflection of your journey and when it is a projection of someone else’s view of you. And projections abound. The less sure you are of who you are the more likely you are to be influenced by the story someone else wants to tell about you.
When you are unsure of who you are, you are more likely to seek external validation, in fact, you are more likely to invite projection. This sometimes happens when you want to please others, meet their expectations of who they want you to be in relationship to them. Sometimes it happens when you do good work, are seen to be a good leader or get magnified to some super human status (to greater and lesser extents depending on how well known you are). Then you feel good, but it is fleeting. More often you disappoint others. Sometimes you argue with them about their view of you. Often you do not feel seen or supported. The irony is, in intimate relationship in particular, the opposite is also true – the other person also does not feel seen or heard.
It is always interesting when others disagree with you about you, insisting their view of you, their story of you is the right one and that you need to do something about it. (And, again, read that you also do this to others.) That may be true. The question is, what are you responding to? Someone else’s need for you to be different so you fit into their view of who they want you to be or your own need to walk a path of personal alignment or integrity which might invite you into your own journey of growth and change? You have a choice, although you are not always aware that you do, or even happy about it.
It can get really messy. Different people have different hopes and expectations of you in the midst of all their own struggles. Even one person’s expectations of you can shift and change, sometimes over a period of time and sometimes suddenly with no warning. Or not change at all, even though you do. It gets way more complicated when there are many people you are trying to please or appease. Either way, as long as you rely on others to validate your experience or your sense of who you are, you give away your power and the ground beneath your feet is really sand that sweeps away and upends you as the tide shifts – which it does continuously.
We all have people who wish we would live into and believe the story of us they carry in their own mind, their own interpretation of their experience of us, as they seek to understand their own identity in relation to us. When others need to believe a certain story of you it is likely that they themselves might not have a very good understanding of who they are. They might be giving their power away – even trying to give it to you and then, sometimes, blaming you for it. It is easier to look at others and assign blame to them for your business not growing, your abundance not flowing, your relationships not working, for you not being happy than it is to understand how you step into your own power.
It is alluring to want to believe other’s stories of you when they are stories of success. At the same time, if you do not see or own that success for yourself then you have dissonance within yourself that will rise to the surface in some way, often in self-sabotaging kinds of ways. It is more impossible when the story others want you to live into is how you disappointed them. But, you are not that story any more than you are the story of success that you do not own.
You can step into your own power and not take power from someone else. Are you willing to put your power on and own it instead of wondering when someone is going to come and take it away from you? Or wait forever for someone to give you permission for what is yours all along? You have a choice. You have many choices. You can choose to discover who you are in your own journey to openheartedness. You can choose to live into the stories of how you want to live. You can choose to be powerful in setting the course of your own life.