The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Every morning we each have a series of choices to make. Should I press the snooze on my alarm or get up and go to yoga? Am I going to make coffee before or after I shower? What am I going to wear? Our days are filled with these small choices.

By acknowledging that we face thousands of small choices on a daily basis, it’s important to acknowledge that we also face big choices on a daily basis. Choosing whether or not to talk to the person you sit next to in class. Going out of your way to reach out and connect with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile. Trying out the kickboxing class you see on a flyer everyday as you walk to work. These bigger choices have the possibility to significantly alter the course of our lives, but are harder to identify if you aren’t aware they exist or that you have permission to act on them.

What is it that stops us from acting on these big choices? I believe it’s fear. What if I talk to that person and they think I’m weird? What if I go to that kickboxing class and I’m the worst one there? It’s the stories we unconsciously tell ourselves that are based in fear of rejection or failure that hold us back from exploring new facets of ourselves. What would people think of me if I fail?

My sister once shared a quote with me, ‘You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. But you can’t choose both’. So in my perspective, everyday we are given a choice, first, what we’re going to wear, and second, what we’re going to do today that is going to challenge us to be a better person tomorrow.

For everyone that challenge looks different. I’ve been fortunate enough that my parents supported me financially while I was in college, so I could save money to travel through Southeast Asia this fall. I acknowledge this privilege and know this is not the same for everyone. I don’t encourage everyone to drop what they’re doing to travel, but I do encourage everyone to look for the opportunities within their current life circumstances for the big choices that challenge us to become more than we’ve been.

I believe that we all have certain mental patterns about the way we think the world works. They’ve been instilled in our minds since the moment we were born by our families, friends, communities, and society. It leads us to believe we should want a certain job, lifestyle, or way of being. But by trying new things that make us uncomfortable, I believe we break the mental patterns we’ve been trained to follow. And when we do that we have the autonomy to create a lifestyle that brings us our own personal meaning and sense of fulfillment.

So if you’re wondering if I was intimidated to move to Southeast Asia this fall, the answer is yes, absolutely. However, I wanted to challenge myself to live a different lifestyle than I’ve known for the past twenty two years and break the mental patterns of the way I think the world has to work. And I’m grateful I have the privilege to do that through traveling.

Within the first week, I’ve met dozens of people who are very different than myself. People who come from different backgrounds, life circumstances, and experiences. However, every single one is trying to create a life of their own personal meaning and sense of fulfillment. I encourage you to do the same within your own life circumstances.

I’ll leave you with a question to ponder for the day: In what choices are you choosing comfort over courage? And what would it take for you to act on the bigger choices you face on a daily basis?

If you need a sense of permission, I give it to you. You are allowed to try new things that make you uncomfortable, and if you fail, you will at least learn something new about yourself and not feel the underlying pull of ‘what if I had just tried’.

Best of luck to you and I’m cheering you on wherever you might be reading this from.

Caitlin Climes