Our Narratives

I’m sure you’ve all heard that question asking what you would tell your younger self if you could go back in time. The assumption being that you are older and wiser and able to give that younger self advice.

The thing is, even if something like that was possible, that younger self probably wouldn’t believe you. Think about it. Whatever was going on in that younger life was real and true and certain at that point in time. I doubt your older self would have been able to convince the younger self that the narrative they held was false.

But for the sake of discussion, what if you did listen? What is the one thing that you have never been able to let go? The one thing that you have always been hard on yourself about, that, even now, you still listen to, and believe, those old refrains? And what is the one thing someone could have told you, that you would have made you listen? Is there anything that could have been said, or done, that would have allowed you to let go?

More importantly, if you can think of one thing that might have made a difference, that you might have listened to back then, why don’t you listen to it now? After all, you’re older and wiser, right?

If my older self went back in time and told my younger self that cruel and unkind words were simply someone else’s insecurities and not my truth, I certainly wouldn’t believe that. Those spoken words were my truth and in many ways still are.

Which makes me wonder why we hang on to false narratives, so strongly that they are true narratives. What do they give us that make us cling to them? What would we have to change or give up, if the narratives were proven false? Conversely, what would it change if we found out those narratives were actually true? Would we still be able to let go of them?

So many questions.

What would I tell my younger self, you ask?

That fear was the underlying cause of all those words, and my god, just go out and life your life in spite of them.

Would I have believed that advice, you ask?

Oh heck, of course not.

8 thoughts on “Our Narratives

  1. I think that I always felt not enough and I would tell myself that I am enough just the way I am and that I can not save the world. I think that I have always been very self aware and I did figure out that I do not have to be cool. I did not need to hang out with with smoking friends just to not be alone. It really was okay to spend my recess alone, away from the smokers. I think I could have done well with just a little reassurance that I am doing a good job just the way I am and how I do things and just to keep going and to enjoy the time with people and not sweat the little things. Obviously those things are huge when you are young and I think even being made aware of how relationships with people are just more important then “going to the mall” would have not change my annoyance of needing to help out my mom in the kitchen so many times. Maybe if I had known that she would die so young, I would have rather spent those times in the kitchen with her more happily.
    I know that she tried to tell me how to deal with my dad and at my age now I can see how she was right and I would say the same thing to my younger self about my dad. But yeah, back then I was just hurt and the words did nothing to me.
    I think in general I would just hug myself a lot, just to make me feel more loved. 🙂
    Oh, and I would really stress to not wait around for people but just do stuff by myself!! Time is short, enjoy it while its there and enjoy it!


    • Those last sentences sound like you have learned to listen to that inner advice. Being kind to yourself and not stressing about others. Your younger self might not have listened but your older self has.


  2. I think that it may be the season for philosophical pondering. I am engaging in similar behavior. But what of it, right? I mean it’s the days of longest darkness, what else are we supposed to do? This behavior is encoded in our genetic history.
    But I digress.
    I was a stubborn young thing, not sure I could have ignored my inner voice then either Lisa.
    Now I try to listen though, to step back and see if I am seeing a situation as it truly is or through the lens of my expectation.
    I try not to limit my own possibilities maybe in part because I limited myself much more as a younger person.
    Thanks for the interesting ponder.


    • I’ve been doing that recently as well, working to step back. Some things going on are triggering emotions for me that have hit harder than I expected. I’m working to separate the emotional triggers from the reality. So I guess that’s a form of learning to listen finally.


  3. So true, about understanding that the unkindness of other people is prompted by their insecurities. But how can a child understand that? A child has not seen how insecurities can shape a person’s character and behaviour, she only feels the injustice of their unkindness.


  4. You mean besides, “Don’t marry him — or him!” 🙂 Oh, heck, I don’t know. I own my mistakes and poor choices. If I hadn’t made certain decisions would I be happier where I ended up? Would I be better off than I am now? It’s hard to say, isn’t it. There is much I cherish in my life and many people I love. Who is to say that if I had altered something in my past that I would still have those things and people. Certainly, we need to take risks, maybe ones that we cringe about when they’re in the rearview mirror, but they help us learn and grow. Then there’s the bad stuff … the stuff we wish never happened. I truly wish no one ever had to deal with those kinds of things. But there they are, and although they shape us, too, we have to remember that we are more than the bad things that happen — more than a sum of our experiences. For all, at this reflective time of year, I wish that your life has gifted you compassion, kindness, and self acceptance.


    • How did I miss this reply? Sorry about that, Susan. But yes, we are more than the bad things that happen, more than the sum of our experiences, and more than the sum of what others believe us to be.


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