Why do so many of us feel like our lives are fictions that need revision? It's because every one of us has a specific, unique story that we tell ourselves about ourselves: This is our 'go-to story'. Our individual, internal self-narrative defines our entire world. Our stories shape the context in which we view what happens to us. Most important, they drive our behavior in any given situation.
Go-to stories can be predominately good, bad, positive, negative, strong, or weak. The quality of everyone's story is uniquely their own. All go-to stories have at least one thing in common: They are hardwired into our unconscious. Because these stories lie in the unconscious part of the brain, none of us really knows what our entire go-to story is. We might realize a sentence here or a paragraph there, but, all in all, we're basically blind to it.
Most of us have likely spent ten thousand hours (roughly two hundred days) living our go-to story. We have felt it, breathed it, thought it, believed it, and acted it out for most of our adult life. It's become a part of us and our understanding of ourselves. So much so that we can't separate it from our being. It feels solid, if only because we have told ourselves so many times that it defines us. Yet deep down, beneath the layers of story-telling, we can tell intuitively if something is very wrong.
Amanda, aged 30, is a successful social media manager. She is quirky, feisty and easily excitable. She understands the concept of 'rules' and is prone to making up a fair share of her own. She is vivacious, beautiful, and wants pretty much everything her way (and she often gets it). She is delightfully alluring and can seduce a man with just one look. Yet, when it comes to starting and sustaining a long-term relationship, Amanda is clueless. She has been slighted and spurned by nearly every man she's been attracted to. Amanda has little defense against her impulses toward lustful, self-defeating relationships, even though she truly longs for something vastly different.
When Brandon, an advertising executive she'd worked with regularly on a campaign, started to show her some attention, she took notice. He was eight years older than her, but that was not an obstacle for either of them. He started to phone her, and the attraction felt relaxed. She liked his baby-blue eyes and fine physique. Theirs was a highly complementary sexual magnetism, and the relationship they fell into was very appealing for her.
Amanda and Brandon started to see each other. They spent seven days and nights together that were pure bliss: passionate lovemaking filled with incredible warmth and desire. Sleeping and being together felt right -- so right it couldn't possibly be wrong.
But just as Amanda was beginning to relax into the affair, she discovered that Brandon was seeing someone else.
Amanda was shocked and heartbroken. She felt as if her world had just been torn out from under her. How could Brandon not feel the way she did? How could he possibly be sleeping with someone else? Amanda was no saint, but she felt so wonderful when she was with him that she couldn't imagine being with anyone else. How could he do this to her?
Brandon was highly skilled in the art of seduction. His eyes, his large baby blues, were his striking feature--the eternal lure that no woman can resist. And having more than one woman made Brandon feel powerful.
Amanda came to me with her story, and I advised her to walk away, knowing full well that we had to come up with a plan. To many other women, leaving this guy would be a no-brainer.
She knew something was wrong. Deep down, she knew it would be a mistake to stay, yet, she couldn't bring herself to leave. She thought maybe she could change him. Maybe she would be able to win him over. Amanda was in deep trouble.
I sat down with Amanda to talk about what had happened. She was emotional, even in tears. My heart sank. I asked her how they first started to date. I sat silently, waiting for her to find her center, her calm.
"So, Brandon invited me to his office. I thought, This is great because he wants to talk, he respects me . . . you know? He asked me to sit down in front of him. I talked about my dreams, my career. It felt so good. We shared some wine and then he looked at me in that way. I knew he really liked me."
Amanda took a moment to reflect. "He was sitting on the edge of his desk and started to move his hands around the inside of my thigh," she said coyly. "I knew it was wrong, but I was excited," she continued, closing her eyes, her voice dropping like a school girl's as she confessed her sins. "It was naughty. I just thought it was just harmless fun. And then one thing led to another."
I asked Amanda what she believed her go-to story was about. What did she tell herself about herself? She looked at me tearfully and said, "I've been searching for someone to love me for so long. Why am I so lonely? Why can't I find anyone?"
I took a deep breath, looked to the heavens, and decided to make a bold statement: "Your go-to story is about a woman who is attracted to promiscuous men. Your story is about a lonely woman desperately searching for love."
Amanda and I stared into each other's eyes for what seemed like an eternity. I embraced the silence and knew that, soon, these moments of realization would be the impetus to change her world.
Like Amanda, we all fall back on our self-dictated story when things don't seem to go our way or when we're frustrated. In doing so, we perpetuate it, give it strength, and keep it alive ("I can't keep a date. At first everything's fine - he's sexy, and tells me things no guy has ever told me, and then he dumps me.") Our go-to story is fueled by exploding noises in our minds. but most of us don't realize how much our go-to story influences what happens to us. Our story has an energy, and this energy is what we show up with every day at home, at work, and in the bedroom.
Even if our go-to story is generally positive, we project an energy that is far less radiant than the divine energy with which we were created: the energy of the soul. Our stories don't diminish the soul but form dark clouds around it, so that it remains hidden. When we replace our go-to story with a new bold one, which we must co-create in concert with our soul -- then, we shine like never before.
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Suzannah Galland is an internationally acclaimed life advisor and influencer for mindful living. Suzannah contributes invaluable Quick Insights to the Huffington Post blog, and writes regularly for Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop.com and Spread the Light for KORA Organics by Miranda Kerr. She has been featured on Harper's Bazaar, USA Today, Vogue, Los Angeles Magazine, Glamour, and Marie Claire U.K. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more Insights to Keep You in The Know.
Suzannah's work work is about giving individuals (like you!) dynamic insight into what agonizes them most and offering breakthrough solutions. She offers instant, real-time solutions to what troubles her clients -- all delivered with a large shot of compassion. Schedule an Appointment Today.