By Suvi Honkanen
Until two years ago, I was very unaware of how much power thoughts have over our lives. Back then, I was a dancer at Finnish National Ballet and struggling with a hip injury and an eating disorder that had lasted a decade. The narrative I kept telling myself was the following:
“You are so weak. You failed. You were given a chance and messed it all up. Everyone is laughing at you. You will never get better. You will forever struggle with eating. You will never feel enough.”
This story kept me stuck.
Not in a physical cage, but a mental one that I had built inside my head. I felt completely trapped and imprisoned by my past and I didn’t take responsibility for my own actions.
After my hip surgery, I was able to take some distance to my normal patterns of behaviour.
I began to wonder if there was a way for to start writing a new story for myself.
I slowly realized that I had the ability to change the way I saw myself. How could I let go of the one version I had been telling myself and just tell another one?
Letting go of things is always difficult.
Letting go means freedom.
Freedom means responsibility.
Responsibility for our own role in our stories means we might have to change.
Nothing is as scary as change.
Even positive change involves loss: loss of what we know. To write a new story is to venture into the dark woods without a map. I certainly found some kind of comfort in the story I had created for myself because, despite how negative and self-harming it was, at least I knew what it was.
Stories are powerful; they are how we make sense of the world. But sometimes, these stories keep us stuck instead of providing us with freedom and clarity. They can become so prevalent that they start to shape our lives and how we see ourselves.
I’ve noticed that we are all rather unreliable narrators of our own lives. We tell ourselves these stories about who we are, what we’ve done, and how we’ve failed
and often leave out all the parts where we
recognize our victories and strength
When we try to make sense of ourselves and our lives we often fail to give ourselves the empathy and compassion we would give a friend or a family member.
Have you ever felt limited by the version of yourself that you think you are? Take a pen, turn the page, and see if you can see your story from another point of view. You might be surprised!
Suvi Honkanen is journalist and former professional ballet dancer.
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