I recently spoke on a FemCity* Global panel on the topic of closing out old narratives. We had a lively discussion about how to move past the narratives that hold us back.
During the panel, we focused on the narratives that hold us back in business, but the tools we discussed work for any area of life. Since many of you are not members of FemCity*, I’ve decided to share it here as well.
Old narratives are beliefs, behaviors, and the stories we tell ourselves that hold us back from thriving. When we adopted them, they were necessary for our survival. But over the years, as we’ve grown into adulthood and learned new ways of being in the world, they tend to limit us so we stop short of thriving.
Here’s an example from my own life. I grew up in a working-class, immigrant family. My great-grandparents and some of my grandparent’s siblings immigrated from Italy.
My grandparents were hard workers – postal workers, maintenance and groundskeepers, jewelry factory workers, and restaurant owners. My parents were the first in their families to enroll and graduate from college in working-class professions – my mom was a teacher all her life.
My grandparents’ generation didn’t trust bankers or lawyers; they kept cash hidden around the house – wrapped in aluminum foil in the freezer, in hidden boxes under the floor, etc. In other words, they protected their resources carefully and kept them close.
These values were passed down to my mother and then to me. While I don’t hide money around the house, I have noticed that I am afraid of losing the financial resources I have. While I have invested a lot in myself (education, therapy, training), I feel anxious investing in the stock market (even in a rather safe way) or putting myself in situations where I could lose or waste money.
My husband, on the other hand, came from a more affluent family whose lineage migrated to the US many many generations ago. His grandparents and his mother and father’s generation were stockbrokers, accountants, psychoanalysts, scientists, and the like. The family invested in education and the stock market:-)
Turning the page
My point: My husband and I have resources, but I have been afraid of losing (and using) them in particular ways. While some part of me knows that in order to be a successful business owner, I have to invest resources (especially money) in the business, I still get anxious and afraid. The stories I inherited don’t support this kind of risk-taking; they support working for others and getting a steady paycheck with benefits.
Living and loving someone with a different, more privileged, experience of money opened my eyes to this old narrative. The more I am aware of the fear and anxiety, the more I can hold myself with care, get support, and make decisions that are based on my present circumstances rather than my old stories. I can release the old narratives and replace them with narratives that serve my life now.
I have simplified my experience in order to keep this example relatively brief, but I think it’s enough to get the point across – old narratives are complicated and embedded in our lineage and our own personal experiences. And, we can, with patience, persistence and practice release and replace them.
Four steps to closing out old narratives and moving forward:
- Identify where you’re stuck and suffering.
- Identify the underlying beliefs, behaviors or stories you tell yourself that keep you there.
Get curious. What does this situation remind you of? Something from your childhood or family of origin? Is it a part of your lineage or your own experience? Talk with your trusted friends and family about it. Can they shed some light?
- Release the old narratives.
There are many ways to release old narratives – most involve practice over time! Remind yourself of the old narrative when you find yourself stuck in it, breathe it out, acknowledge how it has kept you safe, but is no longer serving. Forms of energy medicine like homeopathy, flower essences, Reiki, Energy Body Alignment, and crystals can help clear your system. Journaling, therapy, coaching, group work, mentors, massage, and the like can also help. One of my favorites is to write it down and burn it!
- Replace the old with a new narrative that supports you now and in the future.
The Universe abhors a vacuum, so write a new narrative or affirmation that supports you now. Use yoga, meditation, a vision board process, or a good ole walk in the woods to connect to the part of you that knows your potential and listen. Anchor the new narrative with action steps or physical practices that support you ability to stay in the present.
And remember – clearing out old narratives is a lifelong process. It’s evolution at work. And while I haven’t talked about the faith needed, let’s just say it IS needed – in bucketfuls!