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We hear the warning: Don’t get into the swamp – the mud of your story - or you’ll never get out. But what keeps us stuck in the mud is not the original story – it is when we add another layer of story on top of it – a story of victimhood, not good enough, there’s something wrong with me – endless renditions of how we’re unworthy and unlovable.

We each have our own collection – stories that have brought us to our knees in despair, stories that have made us want to hide out from life, and stories that have made us cry with joy. They have shaped who are and how we show up in the world. They give us our voice. And they have the power to teach or define us – to diminish or expand us, to love or hate.

Once upon a time, the story goes that I was a brand-new English teacher attending my first teacher/parent meeting. The room was packed with parents, teachers, and senior students, and then out of the blue, the principal called on me (his new prodigy teacher that he’d just hired!) to say a few words about the benefits of teaching students Shakespeare. And at that moment, I froze. I couldn’t think of anything to say. I mumbled something. I was caught off guard and swept up in a tsunami of self-consciousness that I wished would have devoured me on the spot.

But the one thing I do remember was the shame and embarrassment I felt at that moment. I returned to my empty classroom that day shocked and numbed out with humiliation and left wondering how could I have ever let that happen? I wanted to disappear forever.

It would take me months to get over that incident (actually, years!). I avoided the teacher’s lunchroom and hid in my classroom. I was convinced that everyone was having a good laugh at me - the true Linda - the Linda that was an imposter, unqualified, and unworthy. I believed that my reputation was forever ruined.

As horrible and humiliating as my story was, something big emerged out of it – and it was the realization that I never wanted to feel so insecure ever again. I wanted to not be me. I wanted to become someone else. But as much as I was clear about what I didn’t want, I would go on to have many more insecure and self-doubting moments over the years.

Defining moments have a way of seducing and branding us. And so, in the same way, that a piece of gum defiantly and stubbornly sticks to the sole of your shoe, my insecurity wouldn’t let go of me.

When we experience an unwanted story, and we’re pestered and stalked in life by a negative feeling like insecurity, we can innocently take on that identity. But, just consider that maybe, just maybe, that story is trying to wake us up to the truth about who we really are. Consider that your story is just a bunch of thoughts that convince us into believing we are insecure, not good enough, or defective. And as real as your story feels to you, could it be a catalyst for our own expansion?

Indigenous cultures have an agreement that says: I will listen to your painful story three times, If you come to my door a fourth time with your story, I will turn away. This stance shows that compassionate listening - towards yourself and from others - is essential, but only up to a point. We have to eventually not let the story become part of our identity. We have to take what we can from it, and then tell a new story.

Our stories hold gems of truth – they are the soul’s way of talking to us through our experience. And as much as they are all made up, I have come to see them as life’s way of trying to get our attention about who we really are.

I invite you to embrace your stories. Dive into them in the same way you dive into a good book. Savor the richness of each character you encounter, the divine drama that unfolds, and the exquisite arc of emotions you experience.

What point of view do you take and hold on to? What is the message your story is trying to tell you? How are they trying to define you? What are your stories wanting you to wake up to?

All you need is one new story to see through the illusion of YOU.

Here are some insights from an interview I did with Michael Neill about confidence, insecurity, and how to take the handbrake off. If you'd like to watch the entire interview, please click this link and enjoy!



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