Let go of the story of yourself (quotes)


We create stories about ourselves


As humans, we love stories and we have a need for them

  • After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world. Philip Pullman
  • Telling stories is as basic to human beings as eating. More so, in fact, for while food makes us live, stories are what make our lives worth living. Richard Kearney
  • StoriesTranscending the egoTranscendenceFreedomLetting goSelf-esteem

Most of all, we wrap ourselves in stories about ourselves …

  • A human being is nothing but a story with skin around it. Fred Allen
  • Behind every mask there is a face, and behind that a story. Marty Rubin
  • Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion. Barry Lopez
  • To be a person is to have a story to tell. Isak Dinesen
  • We are the hero of our own story. Mary McCarthy

… in our search to make meaning of it all

  • Man is eminently a storyteller. His search for a purpose, a cause, an ideal, a mission and the like is largely a search for a plot and a pattern in the development of his life story — a story that is basically without meaning or pattern. Eric Hoffer
  • Meaning

We create stories about ourselves through our perceptions, feelings, thoughts, choices and actions

  • If we wish to know about a man, we ask ‘what is his story–his real, inmost story?’–for each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, through, and in us– through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and, not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations. Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other; historically, as narratives–we are each of us unique. Oliver Sacks
  • You write your life story by the choices you make. Helen Mirren
  • EmotionEmotionsChoiceAction

We inherit stories from society, many of them superstitions and lies

  • So much of the knowledge in our minds is based on lies and superstitions that come from thousands of years ago. Humans create stories long before we are born, and we inherit those stories, we adopt them, and we live in those stories. Don Miguel Ruiz

We constantly create stories about our present and future …

  • A story may be about the past, the present, or the future; it may be about what things should be, what they could be, or why they are. Byron Katie

… and especially about the past

  • The past is just a story we tell ourselves. Spike Jonze
  • Your past is just a story. And once you realise this, it has no more power over you.
  • People are all over the world telling their one dramatic story and how their life has turned into getting over this one event. Now their lives are more about the past than their future. Chuck Palahniuk
  • Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us. Oscar Wilde
  • Every man’s memory is his private literature. Aldous Huxley
  • The past

We create stories to explain events in our lives

  • …What happens is of little significance compared with the stories we tell ourselves about what happens. Events matter little, only stories of events affect us. Rabih Alameddine
  • InterpretationPerception

We create stories about others, including those we love

  • My love is my business; it has nothing to do with you. You love me, and that isn’t personal. You tell the story that I am this, or I am that, and you fall in love with your story. What do I have to do with it? I am here for your perception, as if I had a choice. I am your story, no more and no less. You have never met me. No one has ever met anyone. Byron Katie
  • Love

We identify ourselves with our stories, mistaking our life story for who we really are

  • Who are you?’ someone asks. ‘I am the story of myself,’ comes the answer. Scott Momaday
  • We live in a world where most people believe they are their story. “I was born in this family, this is where I was raised, these are the things that happened to me, and this is what I did.” Oprah Winfrey
  • Your sense of identity, of self, is reduced to a story you keep telling yourself in your head. “Me and my story.” Eckhart Tolle
  • When we really start to take a look at who we think we are… we start to see that while we may have various thoughts, beliefs, and identities, they do not individually or collectively tell us who we are. And yet it is astounding how completely we humans define ourselves by the content of our minds, feelings, and history. Adyashanti
  • It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story. Patrick Rothfuss
  • We’re all stories, in the end. Steven Moffatintitle

Many of our stories of self are toxic


Some of our stories are positive but unfortunately many are toxic

  • As with any other great force of nature, there is both glory and danger in the stories we tell ourselves. Some are toxic and keep our problems festering. Others are tonic and bring us beyond the limitations of our previous history. To be in a life of our own definition, we must be able to discover which stories we are following and determine which ones help us grow the most interesting possibilities.  Dawna Markova

We create stories about the past that depress us

  • With depression you tend to get hooked by stories from the past: about all the things that actually have gone wrong. The thinking self then uses that history to convince you that the future is going to be just more of the same. Russ Harris
  • Depression

We create stories about the future which cause us worry and anxiety

  • With anxiety you tend to get hooked by stories about the future: about things that might go wrong and how badly you’re sure to handle them. Russ Harris
  • When you are feeling anxiety ask yourself this question: What is happening right now? Bring yourself back to what is actually happening in this moment…. the simple sights, sounds, smells, touch… Take a deep breath… Notice how often the anxiety you are feeling is based on a story you are telling yourself of what may happen in the future… and not the reality of what is actually happening in this moment.  Brian Piergrossi
  • WorryAnxiety

We create stories about what shouldn’t be happening in our lives

  • Every story is a variation on a single theme: This shouldn’t be happening. I shouldn’t have to experience this. God is unjust. Life isn’t fair. Byron Katie

We tell stories to justify our resentments

  • Everyone gets a secret pleasure from resentments, from being the martyr or the victim, and from feeling misunderstood, unappreciated, etc… To undo the ego, one must be willing to abandon this payoff game, with its grandstanding of emotions and repetitive rehashing of data and stories to justify its positions…  When the ‘inner juice’ is abandoned, it is replaced by inner peace. David R. Hawkins
  • Resentment

We create stories around our negative emotions and pain which cause us unhappiness

  • Emotion in itself is not unhappiness. Only emotion plus an unhappy story is unhappiness. Eckhart Tolle
  • Becoming mindfully aware of the stories we spin about our physical discomfort quiets and steadies the mind so that the “mud” settles and we can see the thoughts more clearly. Then we have a choice. We can continue to blindly believe them or we can calmly assess their validity. Toni Bernhard, J.D.
  • EmotionsPainUnhappiness

We tell stories about why we can’t have what we want

  • The only thing keeping you from what you want is your story about why you can’t have it. Tony Robbins

We tell stories about how we don’t have enough

  • Continuing to tell stories of shortage only continues to contradict your desire for abundance, and you cannot have it both ways: You cannot focus upon unwanted and receive wanted. Abraham-Hicks

We tell the story that we’re in control when actually we’re not

  • For people who are tired of the pain, nothing could be worse than trying to control what can’t be controlled. If you want real control, drop the illusion of control; let life have you. It does anyway. You’re just telling the story about how it doesn’t. Byron Katie

We tell the story that we are imperfect …

  • Humans are born in truth, but we grow up believing in lies. one of the biggest lies in the story of humanity is the lie of our imperfection. Don Miguel Ruiz
  • We are born perfect, and we will die perfect. The problem is that we create that character in our story that we pretend to be, or that we want to be, and we cannot hide that from ourselves. We know that we are pretending to be what we are not in the name of perfection. Don Miguel Ruiz

… and incomplete

  • Romantic love is the story of how you need another person to complete you. It’s an absolutely insane story. My experience is that I don’t need anyone to complete me. As soon as I realize that, everyone completes me. Byron Katie
  • Completeness

We tell stories about our separateness from others

  • To get the most out of the relationship you are in, it won’t be helpful to listen to the ego’s stories about it. They will only bring separation and conflict. Essence would tell a different story about your loved one. It would probably be something like: “This person is in my life for me to love to the best of my ability. Let’s see what happens if I do that.” As Essence, we are here to serve others and serve life. The ego, on the other hand, is all about serving itself. Gina Lake
  • OnenessConnectedness

We compare our lives against the stories of others and stories about how things should be

  • Ignore society’s comparisons. Constantly checking your life against one of society’s prewritten stories of how things ‘should’ be is a phony way of living.  One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Do it now.  Paulo Coelho

We tell ourselves the same sad stories over and over …

  • I don’t want it to end, and so, as every therapist knows, the ego does not want an end to its “problems” because they are part of its identity. If no one will listen to my sad story, I can tell it to myself in my head, over and over, and feel sorry for myself, and so have an identity as someone who is being treated unfairly by life or other people, fate or God. It gives definition to my self-image, makes me into someone, and that is all that matters to the ego. Eckhart Tolle

… essentially trapped in them

  • We are, each of us, our own prisoner. We are locked up in our own story. Maxine Kumin

Our stories greatly impact our lives


We see everything in life through the filter of our stories

  • The whole world is simply my story, projected back to me on the screen of my own perception. All of it. Byron Katie
  • The world is nothing but my perception of it. I see only through myself. I hear only through the filter of my story. Byron Katie

Our stories draw us away from pure experience into a mental world

  • Watch the mind as it tries, in every moment, to co-opt experience by translating it into a story. It tries to draw you away from experience into a mental world that simulates experience. If it succeeds, that story becomes your experience. Gina Lake

Our stories lead us away from ourselves

  • The Work always leaves you with less of a story. Who would you be without your story? You never know until you inquire. There is no story that is you or that leads to you. Every story leads away from you. Turn it around; undo it. You are what exists before all stories. You are what remains when the story is understood. Byron Katie

Our stories often cause us intense suffering

  • All the suffering that goes on inside our minds is not reality. It’s just a story we torture ourselves with. Byron Katie
  • Experiencing pain can often trigger unhelpful and negative thoughts… “This is never going to end,” “This is just going to get worse,” or “I can’t bear this.” In turn, these thoughts lead to anxiety, depression or anger, because we tend to believe the stories we think when we are unmindful, and this further adds to our suffering. The practice of Mindfulness includes becoming aware of our thoughts and seeing that our thoughts are indeed just thoughts and are not facts.  This can be quite a liberating discovery.  Richard Hanson
  • Hurt feelings or discomfort of any kind cannot be caused by another person. No one outside me can hurt me. That’s not a possibility. It’s only when I believe a story that I get hurt. And I’m the one who’s hurting me by believing what I think. This is very good news, because it means that I don’t have to get someone else to stop hurting me. I’m the one who can stop hurting me. It’s within my power. Byron Katie
  • Suffering

Our stories are ultimately an illusion


Most of the time, our stories are untested and uninvestigated

  • Stories are the untested, uninvestigated theories that tell us what all these things mean. We don’t even realize that they’re just theories. Byron Katie

The truth is that our stories are just a dream, an illusion

  • What is life? A madness. What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a story. And the greatest good is little enough; for all life is a dream and dreams themselves are only dreams. Pedro Calderon de la Barca
  • Your whole life is nothing but a dream. You live in a fantasy where everything you know about yourself is only true for you. Your truth is not the truth for anyone else. Don Miguel Ruiz
  • The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head. There is the illusion of aliveness. Tim O’Brien
  • DreamsIllusionLife is God’s dream

Even neuroscientists agree that our stories are notoriously unreliable …

  • Perhaps the most important revelation is precisely this: that the left cerebral hemisphere of humans is prone to fabricating verbal narratives that do not necessarily accord with the truth. Antonio Damasio
  • The left brain weaves its story in order to convince itself and you that it is in full control.… What is so adaptive about having what amounts to a spin doctor in the left brain? The interpreter is really trying to keep our personal story together. To do that, we have to learn to lie to ourselves. Michael Gazzaniga
  • A good story is always more dazzling than a broken piece of truth. Diane Setterfield

… for we constantly edit, embellish and change our stories as time goes on

  • How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves. Julian Barnes
  • We’re constantly changing facts, rewriting history to make things easier, to make them fit in with our preferred version of events. We do it automatically. We invent memories. Without thinking. If we tell ourselves something happened often enough we start to believe it, and then we can actually remember it. J. Watson

Let go of your story and become free


Identify your favourite stories; especially those that cause you pain

  • Identify your mind’s favourite stories, then give them names, such as the ‘loser!’ story, or the ‘my life sucks!’ story. Russ Harris

Ask yourself who would you be without your story?

  • Who would I be without my story? Pain-free, happy, and totally available if someone needs me. Byron Katie
  • The reality is that without a story you’re genderless-not male, not female, not even human. You’re not anything. It is not anything, it’s more than that. It’s all-inclusive; it doesn’t even question. There are no questions in the void; there is only the experience of it. And not even that.  Byron Katie
  • I ask you only to stop imagining that you were born, have parents, are a body, will die and so on. Just try, make a beginning– it is not as hard as you think. Nisargadatta Maharaj
  • You are not your mind, body, thoughts, feelings, story or past. Adyashanti

Ask yourself what this moment would be like if you experienced it without a story

  • What is THIS moment like when I experience it without a story? Without checking with mind about what anything means or doesn’t mean? Without going into past or future? Without trying to understand or get anything? What is the storyless NOW like? Only one way to find out. Michael Jeffreys

Let go of your story by becoming intensely present in the Now

  • In the moment, life is fresh and alive. The past and future lose their heaviness. I no longer identify with my story. I let go of my story. It’s secondary. Now is primary. Eckhart Tolle
  • Living is not the story of your life. Living is the process of experiencing right now. Werner Erhart
  • When you are present in this moment, you break the continuity of your story, of past & future. Then true intelligence arises, and also love. Eckhart Tolle
  • Live in the presentPresence

Let go of your story by examining it and healing it

  • I have often seen in spiritual circles that instead of a real examination of our storylines, there is a tendency to suppress the story. In that suppression, the story may seem to be removed, but there is still no peace. You cannot rest in the beauty and transcendence of yourself while suppressing the story of yourself. Gangaji
  • Healing

Let go of the story of your past …

  • Our past is a story existing only in our minds. Look, analyze, understand, and forgive. Then, as quickly as possible, chuck it. Marianne Williamson
  • Letting go

… by realising it is just words and images, nothing more

  • “When you understand,” Brandy says, “that what you’re telling is just a story. It isn’t happening anymore. When you realize the story you’re telling is just words, when you can just crumble up and throw your past in the trashcan,” Brandy says, “then we’ll figure out who you’re going to be.” Chuck Palahniuk

Let go of your stories by constantly questioning them

  • Question your stories. Question your assumptions.  Question your opinions. Question your conclusions. Question them all into utter emptiness, stillness and joy.  The keys to freedom are in your hands.  Use them.  Adyashanti

Let go of your stories by becoming the witness instead of the actor

  • Everything changes once we identify with being the witness to the story, instead of the actor in it. The next message you need is always right where you are. Ram Dass

Drop the stories around your negative emotions and let them flow through

  • Use your emotions to do self-enquiry. Don’t resist negative emotions. Don’t try to control them. Meet them fully. Be with the emotion. Be there, naked, without any thinking or justification. Let your story about it go. Under the emotion is something deeper. What is it? And under that? What secret insights are hiding under your feelings? Under it all is who you really are. Gangaji

Without your story, you are free …


… and love flows more freely in your life

  • Love is who we are without our stories. Byron Katie
  • When you are present in this moment, you break the continuity of your story, of past & future. Then true intelligence arises, and also love. Eckhart Tolle

On a lighter note