This is who I am.

I’ve been thinking about the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves. The ‘I am a…’ stories or ‘I have a…’

Or ‘because of this happening I can/can’t/will/won’t’

Those stories.

Or how we often think about them, our identity. This is who I am.

Calling them ‘stories’ makes them sound innocuous, which in truth they are. And yet, they are given so much attention and energy, they become guiding forces of our lives. Can literally make or break someone’s life.

I’ve been challenging my stories for years. It’s still a work in progress as I haven’t yet seen the true illusion I believe they are. Currently I am challenging the story of ‘I am not a runner’.

I didn’t care for sports at school. Having been through puberty early, I was bigger than my peers. My arms and legs were also covered in eczema. Kids, well they have a habit of highlighting differences in not so kind ways, so the gym and sports field were not friendly places for me.

The story was then created that I didn’t run. Couldn’t run. This body was not built for running. Thou shalt not run, was carved into the mind stories. Or at least that’s what I believed, until I didn’t.

I, like thousands of others, have started the couch to 5k. I’m certainly not speedy or a marathon runner, but this body can, is and does run. ‘I am not a runner’ was a lie, falsehood, made up story. And it’s not the only one I have.

I have challenged many over the years. There is great power in changing, distancing, even separating ourselves from these stories. Seeing them for the illusion they are. This is not yet something that I have 100% seen, but I believe it.

I see it for myself and with clients, that these stories are often very fragile with little substance to them. It doesn’t take too much of a challenge for their structure to collapse.

Derren Brown is a master at showing how these stories can be manipulated and changed. I wasn’t a great fan of his early work, but the latter years where he challenges people to see beyond their stories have fascinated me. Whether it’s someone who is taking life for granted, and is in the show Apocalypse, who is shown another view of life, and their story changes. Or someone cruising along not making decisions about life, who then steps up to land a plane in the show Hero at 30,000 feet. What I see him doing is helping them challenge their stories. See themselves, their capabilities in a different way. No longer believing the internal BS!

And we all need to do this.

Notice how our internal stories are guiding our lives. Maybe keeping us in our comfort zone? Playing it safe or small? Or maybe they stop us from saying yes to opportunities or taking the challenge we’d really love to. We need to listen to them and ask ourselves, is this true…really? How do I know it’s true, and what happens when I push at all the edges of that story? Will it stay firm or does it move?

The big question is who would you be without these stories? Who are you without them?

I haven’t finished the couch to 5k plan yet, and actually it’s not about whether I do or not now, as I know that I can run. I can run… when I want to and need to. The old story can do a runner!