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What are your "self-stories"?

Hold them lightly, they are not who you are.

When I suffered from depression, I noticed the presence of an "I'm such a smart psychologist" story.

It sounds like a positive story and, maybeee, it might have helped me gain confidence in my work and research from time to time.

However, this same story also stopped me from getting help when I really needed it.

It was around three years ago when I started to sense the symptoms of depression again and thought of seeking help from another therapist.

However, this story came up and said this to me then:

"Wait I'm a psychologist myself, shouldn't I be able to help myself?"

Hmm, you can guess what happens next. I tried to do exactly that for the first few weeks, which then turned into many months ahead. Yet as you have it, things only got worse.

It's no surprise that this story evolved into an even harsher voice in my mind. It said:

"It's been months already, why aren't you getting better already?"

"So you can help others, but you still can't help yourself?"

"Psychologist? You sure? More like hypocrite. You've been useless so far".

You see, whether a story is positive or negative, that doesn't really matter. When we are not aware of them, we take them as the absolute truth about who we are.

And when this "truth" is shattered, it causes us a great deal of pain.

It feels like our entire identity has been shaken to the core.

Who am I, really?

So here's the thing, hold your stories lightly.

In the case of this story, am I really that smart of a psychologist? Gee maybe sometimes, but many times not at all. I say silly things to my clients all the time that makes them laugh with me about it.

It's definitely debatable, depending on who you ask. Even if you asked me, you'll find that I'll be debating this internally, depending on when you ask.

Yet, should I allow myself to be affected when I don't match up to my internal "expectations" of this story?

No. That's only going to set me back every time something bad happens.

And moreover, should I let this story define "me"?

Again, no. Because all that's doing is make my world rigid - seeing myself and my experience of things as black or white, and good or bad.

So you see, when we take such rigid stories as the "truth" of who we are, that's when we truly become trapped by them.

That's also when we will set ourselves up for failure.

So try this, give each of your beliefs a title or a name.

For me, naming this story allowed me to notice it more often, and stopped me from blaming myself when I was having a dark day and not being able to manage it.

This flexibility in re-defining who I am also allowed me to choose behaviours that were more helpful along my recovery journey, like being vulnerable and asking help from others.

I have many other stories of course, and it's the same with all of them.

Name and notice when they arise, so we can catch them before we get caught up in them.

And at this point, I suspect you'll be asking this question below:

"If I'm not my stories, then who am I?"

Well, take a moment to ponder that.

Step out of your thoughts for a second and see yourself looking out your own two eyes. Stare at your hands, feel your feet on the ground.

Look around you wherever you are.

Feel your breath pouring air in and out of your lungs.

Because when you think about it from the purest of terms, all you and I are at this point are two conscious human beings living within our own bodies connecting with each other through these words.

While floating on a gigantic ball that's flying around in a small bit of universe.

And when you touch on this perspective much more often, you'll find that these stories are so far from the "truth" in the grand scheme of things.

That the only truth and the most important thing you can do right now is do what matters to you and really live your best life.

So my friend, what's your self-story that is at play?

Name them. Notice them. And know that you are so, so much more than your stories.

Name and notice when they arise, so we can catch them before we get caught up in them.

Take care,



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