Are You Holding Onto Your Story?


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Psychology, Thought | Posted on 11-08-2017

Tags: , ,

[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version. There’s also a corresponding video to this post.]

We all have our stories. Lots of them. But most of the time we have no idea that they’re stories. We think they are who we are, so they become our identity. But what we often don’t realize, is that identity itself is just a belief system. And beliefs are simply a whole bunch of thoughts we keep on thinking. (Until we don’t.)

I’ve certainly had my stories over the years, and like everyone, I still do. I just don’t hold onto them as tightly as I used to.

Here’s the Cliff Notes version of my old story: was a pioneer in the SEO industry who liked getting a little buzzed in the evenings. I’m an introvert who was happy to sit at my computer all day. I was “allergic” to exercise and vegetables. I’ve been married for a long time, and have three children. Sweating, was not for me! I don’t particularly like change, and am very set in my ways.

Also, I was a damn good writer who could boil difficult subjects down to their essence in a way that was easily understandable and digestible. I loved public speaking and was a good teacher, but wasn’t necessarily a “natural speaker.”

As far as I was concerned, my preferences, ideas and beliefs were what was true and right. Anyone who disagreed with me was dumb. (Obviously!)

There was plenty more, but you get the point.

Fast forward to today…

Some of my story is the same or similar to the old one. I’m still married. I still have 3 children. I’m still a damn good writer who can make tricky stuff more understandable.

Other parts are different. Some are even the opposite.

How can that be?

You see…

Our stories are constantly changing.

Sometimes they shift slowly. And other times they change rapidly.

Obviously, life events such as switching professions, getting divorced, or having a death in the family can create a new story for us, whether we like it or not.

There are also times when we might be “in between” stories and have no particular identity around one or more areas of our life. For instance, when I first retired from my SEO business, my work story was up for grabs. I didn’t know what to say when people asked me what I did. I found it weirdly uncomfortable not to have a particular profession.

Four years later and I still sometimes stumble with this story. I can see how my mind wants to latch onto something. “Who am I, if I don’t have a work identity?” (A question my ego sometimes likes to ask.)

However, it can also be fun to keep the story open. Having no work identity allows me to make something up on the spot based on what I did that day, or week or month. (I am an author! I’m a blogger! I am a teacher! I’m a transformational coach!)

When we lose our tight grip on our story, it opens us up for unlimited opportunities and possibilities.

Of course, the opposite is also true.

When we hold onto our stories, it keeps us shut-down, stubborn and stuck.

If only we knew that our stories were not true. They’re not who we are, nor have they ever been. We just believe that they are.

They are merely fictional fairy tales we’ve told ourselves since we were kids.

The key is in recognizing the made-up nature of our stories.

The more we can see how fluid our belief system really is, the freer we become.

What stories, beliefs and identity are you holding onto?

And more than that, what stories have you made up that you don’t even know are stories?

Here are some common beliefs we tell ourselves, which keep our stories alive and seeming real:

  • I’ve always been this way.
  • I was born to do X, Y or Z.
  • I’ve got a certain personality type.
  • I can’t imagine doing it any other way.
  • Something happened to me when I was little (or big) which caused me to be the way I am now.
  • I have a diagnosed psychological condition that causes me to be this way.
  • I am who I am, and that’s that.

What if none of these were true. (Because they aren’t.)

Here’s something that IS true:

No matter what traits you were born with, no matter what horrible things happened to you, and no matter how long you’ve been the way you are, it’s not now nor ever fixed in stone.

Please know that I’m not saying that stuff didn’t happen to you, or that you weren’t born with certain traits. I’m only saying that the stories you tell yourself about all of that are completely made up.

Which means, my friend, that YOU are an open book.

YOU can be and do anything you want to be and do.

Regardless of your past.

So what are you waiting for? You’ve got some new stories to create!


See this video as well:

Prefer listening? Click the green arrow below!

(Visited 1,268 time, 1 visit today)

CONTACT JILL WHALEN to learn how she may help you be the best you can be.

Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety

Prefer videos? Subscribe to my YouTube Channel now!

For the past 20 years, Jill has consulted with companies big and small, and spoken at conferences all over the world. She is currently a transformational speaker and mentor to businesses, individuals, coaches, leaders, groups and organizations. She helps them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind and take their lives and businesses to a higher level.

Jill's blog, What Did You Do With Jill? is a personal account of what she's learned throughout her transformational journey. Jill has many "viral" articles on LinkedIn and is a contributing writer for P.S. I Love You.

Stay abreast of Jill's latest musings and offerings by subscribing to her newsletter here.

Want More Inspiration?

Leave Your Thoughts Below(10)

Jill, you are talented writer and couch. Your book turned me upside down. With this “new story” you talking about here, how can I write my new story if my spouse’s sister has been boolying me for the last 50 years, and she has no intention to slow down. She is real physical irritant for me, she is the cause of my fears, this is not made up story, I cannot go around this problem. My husband cannot erase her, she is his blood relative. This is his choice, and he has his right for it. After listening to webinar on relationship and going to relationship seminar I understand that I cannot change people. So it should be my choice now, either accept boolying, or cut myself off this booly. Don’t people do it? Don’t people have the right to erase poisonus person from their life? At least that’s what I learned from DBT training.

Hi Valentina,

Glad you liked the book and the seminar. I can’t really answer your question here, as it went undetected take a back and forth conversation. However, you and I are scheduled to talk later. We can see how it goes then and I might be able to provide more here after our chat.


Thanks for sharing your stories with us. Really you are a talented writer.

You’re welcome and thank you for the kind words.

Great article Jill.

Thanks, stranger! 😉

Good one Jill. I miss ya so it’s good to listen to your voice.

Thank, miss you too! Let’s set up a time to chat next week!

Great insights Jill. I have seen people suffering because they refuse to let go of their stories. Sometimes it is comfortable to remain in your stories because then you can avoid taking responsibility of your life and pass on the blame.

Yes, very true.