While I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, I like the idea of resolving, this year, to change the story we tell ourselves about ourselves.
One of the most relaxing parts of my winter break were the hours I spent curled up with The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss, the most-recommended fantasy fiction book by all of you.
At the end of the book, I found a pearl of wisdom spoken by a minor character named Bast:
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.
Bast then goes on to illustrate about how the story we tell ourselves can change (I choose to read this excerpt with the implied broad sense of “beauty,” and even so wish the example were a different one):
If you tell [a shy girl you love] she’s beautiful, she’ll think you’re sweet, but she won’t believe you. She knows that beauty lies in your beholding…But [you can] show her she is beautiful. You make mirrors of your eyes, prayers of your hands…It is hard, very hard, but when she truly believes you…Suddenly the story she tells herself in her own head changes. She transforms. She isn’t seen as beautiful. She is beautiful, seen.
So often we cling fiercely to limitations that are far past their expiration date.
We can resolve this year to start to believe the stories that the people who love us most tell us about ourselves.
Stories about being worthy of love.
Stories about being truly, deeply beautiful.
Stories about what we can accomplish: the book we can write, the new role we’re ready for, the strengths we have that come so easily to us that we ignore them.
The biggest leaps I took in 2018 were possible because I believed, even if just for a moment, the kindest, most generous stories that people who love me told me. These stories were sometimes spoken out loud and sometimes reflected powerfully in actions.
All of them helped me see myself in the kinder light reflected in the mirror of their eyes, rather than the harsh glow of self-criticism. And I’d think, “Maybe they’re right. Maybe that is in me. Maybe.” That was enough to imagine bravery. That was enough to begin.
As we look to 2019, let us remember to believe those who see in us more capability, bravery, and potential than we see in ourselves. And let’s remember that one of the greatest, easiest gifts we can give is to be positive mirrors, by reminding others of the beauty that lies within them.
Happy 2019. Here’s to a great year ahead.