As my family walked beside the ledges, carried and dumped by glaciers eons ago, we noticed that the trees were growing in and amongst the rock. As I inspected the twisted roots and awkward trunk angles, I marveled at the idea that these trees must have worked SO hard to be there. Certainly harder than their nearby neighbors who loomed beyond the ledges, tucked gently into their nutrient rich soil. The ledge trees seemed to be saying "No matter how hard I try it's just not good enough!"
Wait, was that the trees, or was that me?! Actually, I know the answer to that question.
That thought, like a shadow, has followed me my entire life. It started early when, as the youngest child, I couldn't seem to do things as well as the adults, try as I might. It continued on into my school years when I would spend hours on a paper thinking it was my best yet only to find red scribbles pointing at more things I needed to learn. And as a musician, talk about living in futility. Given all the hours spent in a practice room, I'm not sure I could count on 1 finger the number of times I ever had a "perfect" performance.
Back to the ledge trees, in all their glory, gnarled and twisted and beautiful in their own way. Obviously, there were enough nutrients for them to grow. And even though they had to work hard to grow over and through rock, they seemed stronger for it. Their roots found their way somehow and seemed to merge beautifully with the rock.
That made me reflect on the fact that every time I've been pushed to work harder, I end up feeling a bit stronger too. I've had to twist and contort at times in order to accomplish whatever was my heart's desire. It certainly wasn't always comfortable or easy as I competed for jobs, navigated burnout, and made difficult decisions about the direction of my life and career.
Looking back on it all, I can appreciate that I engaged everything I had within me and around me to manifest my goals, much like the ledge trees' ability to find nutrients in less-than-ideal soil. And although it really felt like I was working harder than many around me, chances are really good, they were working hard in ways I couldn't see on the surface.
Our stories can color your present experience of past events. When I was telling myself that "no matter how hard I tried, it wasn't good enough," what I was really saying is "I am not enough." If I truly embodied that story, I might not totally engage with my life. I might stop trying altogether. I might play the victim.
But I'd rather be the hero!
The hero often has to hear the monologuing of the villain right before the action takes place. If the hero believed the villain's monologue (that "nothing they do will save the day," for instance), the hero would simply give up. Instead, the hero chooses to reframe the monologue to reflect their values and beliefs.
In my world, when I hear my inner villain monologuing about "nothing you ever do is good enough no matter how nard you try," I pause and choose to challenge it. It's true that when I was a kid, I couldn't do things the way the adults could. But I could do them in a way that was unique to me. Sure there was a lot of red on my school papers, but I learned a lot and probably wouldn't be writing this blog post had I not engaged with that process. And as for the imperfections of being a musician, the story I like to reframe for myself there is that what some might call "mistakes," I see as opportunities for more growth and learning.
By challenging those stories and monologues, I feel empowered to continue growing, even if it feels uncomfortable or difficult. At the end of the day, I feel stronger and can see that everything I need to thrive is already present. I am enough.
This leads me to some questions for you:
• What does YOUR inner villain monologue sound like?
• What are the stories you are telling yourself right now about that monologue?
• How could you reframe that story?
• How do you feel when listen to your inner hero?
May your inner hero prevail and lead you to personal victories this month and beyond!