The amazing benefits of identifying and rewriting unhelpful internal monologues.
By HeatherAsh Amara, author of Warrior Goddess Training, Become the Woman You are Meant to Be
Human beings are natural storytellers.
We are filled to the brim with stories, many of which make up who we think we are and what we think is possible for us in life. So it naturally follows that if we don’t take time to question our internal monologues, they can keep us tied to old beliefs and limit us from reaching our true potential.
For instance, do you ever feel that you are weighted down by your past and buried under layers of self-doubt, fears, and confusion?
When I first started apprenticing with don Miguel Ruiz, the author of The Four Agreements, I felt like a suitcase that was overstuffed with all the ideas of who I thought I should be. My entire inside world was crowded and heavy. I knew I wanted to lighten my load. But at first I didn’t know how to change; I just knew I wanted to. As I learned to hold myself in a container of compassionate awareness and refrain from judging, I began to notice the impact my words had on my relationship to myself.
One day, as I was sharing the story of my life with a new friend, I had an epiphany. I realized that my story was not a factual collection of words describing my life. My story was a heavy anchor I was dragging behind me while trying to catch the wind in my sails.
My story used to go like this:
I was traumatized as a child by how often my family moved. I went to eight different schools and lived in four countries—Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States, and Thailand—by the time I was sixteen. We would move every two years or so. I started off at each school feeling painfully shy, disconnected, and alone. By the second year I would have made friends and found my groove, and then we would move again and the cycle would start over. Because of the many times I moved away from friends, or they moved away because of their parents’ jobs, I have a hard time connecting with people intimately, and I’m afraid of being abandoned.
Each time I told my story I felt sorry for myself. Wouldn’t you?
And on that day with my new friend I had the awareness to lovingly release my past frame of perception and rewrite my history as an adventure rather than a disaster.
This was my new story:
I was blessed as a child with an adventurous family. We moved every two years and traveled around the world every summer. I spent most of my childhood going to great international schools in Southeast Asia, and by the time I was sixteen my family had visited or lived in twenty different countries, including Thailand, Singapore, India, Egypt, Italy, and Spain. Because of the many times we moved and traveled, I learned to be incredibly flexible and to deeply love the diversity and creativity of humans. My childhood experiences helped me relate to many different perspectives, to make friends easily, and to celebrate change.
Each time I told this new story, I felt a sense of adventure and lots of gratitude. How does it make you feel?
Now the important question: Which story is true?
Both stories are true and not true, depending on my perspective. The answer isn’t about which one is the absolute truth, but which story feels most in alignment with who I am and who I want to be. One is a story of a victim of life; the second is a claimed story of a Warrior Goddess.
The lesson here is that it takes awareness and action to create inner change. Awareness shows us where we are stuck in a heavy past; action leads us into the lightness of a consciously chosen present.
For me, choosing to be a Warrior Goddess woman means looking at myself as a palette of colors and textures, and noticing which colors and textures nourish and enliven me, and which drain or dull me. It is only when we become aware that a certain story, action, or behavior doesn’t feed us that we can change it.
Today my internal world has much more space, and what is unnecessary baggage is much more obvious. I now see internal unpacking as a sweet ongoing process of inner cleaning, like washing the dishes or brushing my teeth.
Transformation starts with how we use our words—how we speak our story to ourselves and others. Like body and mind, words are vessels. Each word we choose can hold the vibration of healing, peace, and love, or be brimming with fear, victimization, and judgment. Our words help to nourish or deplete our vessel.
Even the same sentence can increase or decrease our enthusiasm, depending on the energy behind the words. I can say to someone, “You are doing great!” and infuse these four words with enthusiasm and support. Or I can say, “You are doing great” with sarcasm and bitterness, and the message conveyed is very different, even if the words seem positive.
Awareness leads to clarity and an understanding of what is working and what is not working. Clarity leads to taking personal responsibility to transform our old patterns and habits. Responsibility leads to releasing blame, guilt, and shame. And when we release blame, guilt, and shame, we are free to choose, with gratitude, which story we want to believe.
Now it’s your turn: What’s your story?
HeatherAsh Amara is the author of the bestselling Warrior Goddess Training, the Warrior Goddess Companion Workbook, and The Warrior Goddess Way. Get two free chapters at warriorgoddesstrainingbook.com or learn more about upcoming events at heatherashamara.com