Recently I was having a conversation with someone about joining The Change Lab. I know this person more than most people who are in my tribe, she has been a student on multiple occasions across multiple products. There’s some history. “Have you thought about joining The Change Lab?” And then it came flying out of her mouth: her old story.
Her mouth said no and gave me logical reasons why she wasn’t going to… The answer was not her. It was not the person that I have come to know.
It was her old story.
Before I ever learned about old story… Before I ever learned about how lasting, permanent, identity-level change happens… Before I ever learned about how the story I tell to myself about myself is so powerful and dictates everything… I had an unfortunate conversation with my old story.
My husband and I were living in a small 600 square foot apartment with three boys, three cats, me trying to teach cake, everything and everyone on top of themselves and each other, cramped, and utterly unhappy. And something had to change. But before something had to change, we hit rock bottom.
And then we hit rock bottom again.
And then we hit rock bottom again…
The problem was that we always came back up from the depths of that craggy rock.
I remember standing in my kitchen over top of my then orange Dell laptop, having just gotten off the phone with another creditor – one of three creditors that were threatening me this time. I had to talk to all of them and try to juggle what I could do to get to settlement agreements with all of them.
I needed to get the calls to stop. I needed to get them to stop dinging my credit. I desperately needed to see how much money I could somehow maneuver between these people with our tax return to try to make it all stop this time around and end the constant anxiety.
The problem was that I knew that as soon as we did that, and as soon as our credit recovered just a little bit, that we would have to be living on credit again, and that would start the cycle all over again.
After I hung up from that call it happened. I had the worst conversation with myself, out loud, that I’ve ever had.
I bargained with my old story and gave up.
I said to myself: “Maybe this is just how I’m meant to live. Maybe I just need to accept this. Maybe this is just how things are and how they’re always going to be for us, and at the very least I know how to navigate this place. At least I know what to do, and at least I know that we’ll get out of it because we always do. It’s not fun. But maybe this is just what life is for us.”
And I gave up.
I very clearly remember that devastating feeling of bargaining with my old story, being willing to accept it so long as it just didn’t get worse. I’d stop expecting more, BETTER, stop fighting it, so long as I could have the comfort of this place repeating exactly as it is. I took comfort in knowing what the pain was and that I could weather it time and again.
I remember what I was wearing. I remember standing at the bar-height table, holding my hands cupped inside each other facing upwards, saying these words out loud.
I was looking up, searching the ceiling as if there would be an answer there. As if something, the Universe, would acknowledge my white flag of surrender and agree to not make things worse if I just gave up.
Fast forward to today, and I’m no longer in that position and I’m no longer that person.
Now as I recount that story, I’m looking at her – old me – from outside.
I don’t ever want to forget that – I don’t ever want to forget how it felt to have that conversation, bargaining out loud with my old story.
Every time I revisit this place it makes my chest feel like collapsing in on itself, even today.
To remember that that conversation I had with my old story wasn’t a conversation I was having with myself. I realize now that I was bargaining with my old story to not hurt me any more than I was already hurting. Begging it for mercy.
Now, I’m a coach and old story is the heart of my (scientific) methodology. I can hear old story when it comes out of someone like you can smell a dog’s fart right next to your chair at the dinner table. Dude, that’s unmistakable!
When I hear that come out of someone’s mouth, I have to go get that person. That person can’t have my conversation, they CAN’T bargain with their old story the way I did. It’s not okay for anyone to bargain with their old story, not if I can help it.
I’ve felt that broken spirit.
I’ve felt demoralized.
There’s nothing worse in life than feeling those things in your soul.
Some people say, “No, losing a loved one is more difficult.”
Death is expected (not including death of a child, that’s a completely different category that is all it’s own).
Giving up on your life, giving up on the rest of your days being anything more than where you’re currently stuck – I don’t know that there’s anything more sad and devastating than that.
So when I see somebody on the verge of doing that like my student, I run at them because my purpose here on this planet is to heal and set free – I’m a wild human rescuer.
That’s not said in a funny way. That truly is my purpose. It took me 18 months to figure that out.
It’s also the most perfect description of what I am here to do and if I don’t run to those wild humans that are stuck in their own trap or about to walk into a trap or that are hurt and damaged and wounded, who else will see them? Maybe someone will, but I couldn’t live with myself if I ignored their need.
Who will help rescue them when they don’t know how to reach out for help?
Wild animals don’t come to humans and say, “Hey, I’m hurt. Can you help me?” they just keep going and they live lesser lives and shorter lives, not oddly that’s the same thing that happens to humans.
So when I see someone willing to say, “Okay, old story. I give in. I’m not gonna fight you. Just please don’t get any worse.” I’m sorry, but you better bet that I’m gonna run at it and you full force, and I’m gonna keep you from having that conversation and spending years trying to fix the fact that you even had that conversation. (run-on sentence required for emphasis. just imagine me getting out of breath by the end of it because of the passion and energy that just HAD to come out.)
That’s why I want everyone in my coaching program – The Change Lab.
If you are 100% in your own head and your old story has determined that you are not joining The Change Lab, yet still a little part of you somewhere goes, “Hey, what about me? What about what I wanted?” please listen to it and stick around my blog.
You were meant to live a bigger life on your terms.
And if living on your terms is living a small life, a lesser life, 1/2 life and you’re not really living on your own terms… then that old story needs to be kicked to the curb.
No – it needs to die a quick and really painful death.
If you don’t challenge old story it will win. Old story is strong. But I’m a pretty fierce competitor – and I’ve got you.