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The Stories You Cling To

You cling to a story that says you can’t accomplish something. A story that says you can’t write a book, or go back to school, or can’t start a podcast, or can’t paint, or can’t start a new hobby when you’re so darn old.

You cling to a story that says you’re selfish if you go to an exercise class after work, take a weekend trip, need time by yourself, go out for lunch, have regular date nights with your husband, because some time ago, at some place, someone said that moms are supposed to sacrifice themselves for their children.

You cling to a story that says you’re supposed to weigh __ number of pounds before you can wear what you’d like, stand up for yourself, buy nice things, go to the beach, make a dream come true.

You cling to a story that says you don’t have any time for what you really want to do.

You cling to a story that says you’re unlovable, because you make stupid mistakes, because you have many regrets, because sometimes you don’t keep your promises.

You cling to a story that says you can’t feel what you’re actually feeling. You shouldn’t feel angry because that’s not nice. You shouldn’t feel sad because that’s being ungrateful. You shouldn’t feel anxious because that’s being weak. You shouldn’t feel happy because something awful will happen.

You cling to a story that says it’s best to keep going and doing and going and doing.

You cling to a story that says you don’t matter very much.

You cling to a story that says you need to criticize yourself in order to get anything done. You need to be a drill sergeant who believes in rigid rules, and punishing consequences.

You cling to a story that says you’re the only one who’s struggling, the only one with this level of anxiety, with this level of fatigue, with this level of heartache.

You cling to a story that says you’re hopeless and helpless, maybe in not so many words. But any time you think about doing something that’ll make you feel fulfilled, you instantly shut down the idea.

Write down a story, or a few stories, that you’re currently clinging to.

Then take a deep breath, close your eyes, and consider for a moment if it’s a story that supports you. Is it a story that’s contributing to your well-being? Is it a story you’d want your son or daughter to tell themselves? Is it a story that energizes and inspires you, or a story that shrinks and weighs you down?

Because if it’s the latter, why not change it?

You don’t need to do anything big and bold to revise a story. You can simply start by saying, I don’t believe this anymore. Because I don’t have to. 

Sure, yes, revising these kinds of stories, these stubborn kinds of stories, these stories that feel as though they’ve been coursing through our veins since the very beginning, is not easy. Sure, yes, it can take time. Sure, yes, it can feel complicated and hard.

But a revision starts with making the decision to stop believing—and to then start acting as though the new story is true. As though it’s 100 percent accurate. And you get to make that choice.

Don’t take that power away from yourself.

Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash.

The Stories You Cling To

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2019). The Stories You Cling To. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 2 Jun 2019
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