Owning Our Stories is a Liberating Way to Live
BY Emily Madill September 7, 2015
I recently took part in a pottery workshop where we handcrafted a clay herb pot. I don’t consider myself much of an artist per say. I did however love getting my hands dirty and generally find that immersing myself in creative processes of any kind fills my cup.
During the class, the instructor reminded us that each step of forming our pots was not about perfection. He said that the slight blemishes and so-called imperfections that are bound to occur, were actually the markings that made our pots one-of-a-kind and beautiful.
Those insightful words inspired me to own my pot with its irregularities and imperfections as a thing of beauty. It also got me thinking how adopting this powerful mindset in life would serve me well.
So often in life, the experiences that leave us feeling raw and broken, or the traits we carry around that are viewed as different or strange, can be the very things that we try with all our might to hide, minimize, label or beat ourselves up for.
What if the so-called blemishes, bumps, bruises and unique parts of our life stories are what make us beautiful? What if the very things we spend our whole lives running from and trying to cover up or change are actually the experiences that have shaped who we are, and are therefore worthy of owning and loving?
I can’t help but jump on board with the theory that life is messy. Instead of pretending it’s not or becoming swallowed by the messiness, we are much better off to grant ourselves some compassion and courage to OWN all parts of our life story as being uniquely ours.
In an effort to help make this mindset stick, I have made a list of reminders as to why I would rather summon the courage to own all parts of my story, instead of trying to fit in or feel ashamed of any part of my journey. Owning our stories, the bumps and all, is a liberating way to live. Give it a try and see if this mindset may be a right fit for you.
- Instead of worrying about fitting into the image of perfection, jump into life with both feet and have FUN! Get your hands dirty, do it your own way and enjoy whichever way YOU choose to live fully.
- There is nothing wrong with admiring others for their unique traits or the ways they show up in life. Be inspired, allow it to fuel you… just remember not to be disillusioned that their way is better, or yours is somehow inferior. You (and your story) is exactly as it should be, and so is theirs. Stay true to who YOU are! When we fully accept and love ourselves, it becomes more natural to genuinely appreciate and love others for the unique ways they show up in the world too.
- Gratitude is like magic - sprinkle it on everything! Sometimes it can seem nearly impossible and unnatural to see why or how we would ever feel grateful for things that hurt us or for losses we have experienced. There is no need to fake it, or beat ourselves up for not feeling thankful for things that are hard to wrap our minds around. What we can do, to liberate ourselves, is to feel grateful for how we can weather the storms in life. We can feel grateful for our ability to care and love deeply, and therefore sometimes experience hurt and loss with that same intensity. If you can feel, you are human, and that is reason to be thankful all on its own.
- If there are things about your story that are especially hard or that you’d rather not yell from the mountaintops, reach out to someone close who is trustworthy and capable of allowing you to safely and openly share all parts of your story. There is no shame in reaching out, just be sure to share sacred parts of your journey with people who respect and honor it as that.
- Forgiveness and acceptance are gifts we have the ability to give ourselves, or not. Wishing something is a certain way when it isn’t, or spending our lives obsessing over why something shouldn’t have happened when it already did, is the surest way to rob ourselves of joy. Life is precious. When we see it as that, it makes little sense to spend our time torturing ourselves about things from the past or worries that have yet to come true. We don't have to sugar-coat, forget or approve of hurtful behavior and events; but what we can do when we forgive ourselves and others for past hurts is free ourselves of the burden of holding onto the heaviness of the pain. When we can accept life as it is in this very moment, we can open ourselves up to love where we are and better yet, love WHO we are.
- Compassion opens the gateway to owning all parts of our stories and is the key to embracing our worthiness. Much like art, life is not meant to be perfectly smooth, uniform and the same for everyone. When we can view ourselves with compassion for all roads we have traveled, all of the choices we’ve made and all the ways we show up that make us uniquely who we are, then we can open our eyes to see ourselves for the masterpieces we are. Then we will own our stories and our lives with the same pride as we would for a perfectly-imperfect clay herb pot.
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