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Are You Sabotaging Yourself Like This? (Writer’s Workshop #3)

I see it all the time… not just because I unconsciously do this at least a few times everyday, but also because I’ve noticed it in the people who I have coached. Most people on this planet do this one thing over and over. In fact, they do it so much that few people are aware they are even doing it.

Nevertheless, this single idea amounts to one thing: limiting your personal growth…

We adopt ideas from our childhood, our families, and our friends about what kind of person we are. When other people tell us we are a “bad child” over and over, we often grow up believing that. The same is true when people say we are “smart” “difficult” “pretty” “good at sports” or even “successful.”

We then believe that these labels define us, and we limit our true potential because we close off to the infinite other possibilities that might bring us joy.

Now allow me to explain using a more personal example. For almost my entire life I grew up believing that I was not a “story writer.” Believe it or not, I actually flunked story writing assignments in school!

So when I saw my former wife Laura began writing stories, I falsely believed that SHE was the story writer… not me. Based on my past, I didn’t think I was “good enough” at story writing to actually be a writer.

Can you imagine how limiting this way of thinking is?

If I had continued to believe that my past failures at story writing actually defined me, then I would not be writing this to you today. Now think about how this applies in your own life. If somebody were to ask, “Who are you?” What would you answer?

Would you answer, “I’m a story writer?”

If you’re even the slightest bit like I was, then that’s probably the last label you’d use to identify yourself! :) Make no mistake about it though, the more you identify with any labels, the more you are limiting your personal growth.

It doesn’t matter if the label is “good” or “bad,” identifying with labels means that you are constantly missing opportunities to experience your greatest joy, happiness, and abundance that you deserve.

The contrast couldn’t be more vivid. On one hand you have the very few people who “get it.” They seem to be happy all the time even when things don’t appear to be going well… and then there’s other people who seem to always be unhappy no matter how many good things happen in their life. Identifying with labels has the power to impact us that deeply.

Which one do you want to be?

Today I’d like to share with you an excerpt from my Inscribe Your Life® program. Although it is brief, I think this really gets to the heart of the matter and shows why anybody, including you, can write stories and experience significant personal transformation.

After you finish reading, remember to leave a comment!

We often choose the story format because it’s both easier for many people to relate to and because the short format allows us to keep a reader’s attention long enough to communicate the messages we are trying to convey.

For those of us drawn to a spiritual path, the question “Why?” is likely to be very prevalent in our lives. Sometimes we may be questioning why we engage in a specific behavior, maybe we are asking why certain patterns emerge in our lives or why specific things happened, perhaps we are wondering why certain things haven’t happened, or just why we exist.

Regardless of what we are inquiring about, the question of “Why?” also applies to stories. Alan Dolit sums it up best when he says to ask yourself these two questions:

What is it for?

Why do I want to do this instead of doing something else?

Different motives for writing can produce entirely different stories. The primary motive for most writers I have interviewed is to share wisdom with others in hope of shortening their spiritual evolutionary path. Sometimes, we write in hopes of inspiring other people. However, contrary to popular belief, not all stories are meant to be read. Yes, you read that correctly, and it is important enough to write again:

Not all stories are meant to be read.

How can that be, you ask? Sometimes a story is like a journal. We might write it as our own internal monologue to help us work through issues we may have, or we might write to help explore other facets of our personality… or even our experience of reality as we see it.

More often than not, writing stories is about a little bit (or a lot) of all of the above. Rarely is it one or the other, but rather, it is an expression of our holistic self connecting both with ourself and others. It allows those of us who have never considered ourselves to be “writers” to find great enjoyment and meaning in writing our own stories.

Understanding the more personal elements of writing enables us to get past some of the fears and roadblocks we might have about being a “good” writer or a “bad” one, or whether our audience will enjoy the story or not.

Evolution Ezine Writer’s Workshop: Assignment #3 

  1. Think of 3 or 4 labels you currently identify with (Some examples: mother, father, child, sibling, friend, teacher, spouse, mployee, student, etc)
  2. Pick 1 of those labels and recall the earliest memory you have of omebody giving you that label
  3. Write a story sharing how you believe you got that label, why you elieve it was given to you, and how that label has affected your life etween then and now.
  4. Then write about one or more ways you could possibly let go of hat label so that you no longer identify with it
  5. Lastly, write down how you imagine you might feel, and what your ife might be like, when you successfully let go of that label completely


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5 Responses to “Are You Sabotaging Yourself Like This? (Writer’s Workshop #3)”

  1. Annie Stith says:

    Hey, Chris!

    Actually, I wrote this story some… 15? 20?… years ago, under some special circumstances. I’ll share here (most) of what I went through at the time.

    I was abused in different ways by different people the first 30 years or so of my life. As a result, I developed Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which used to be called “having multiple personalities.”

    Believe me — it’s nothing like it’s presented in novels, or movies, or TV shows. I had no alternate personalities who developed lives of their own, and only one can boot me so far out of my consciousness that I “lose time” without knowing what transpired.

    What I experienced was a splitting of my psyche into several parts, each of which played their own role in order to protect me in one way or another. I had a part of me that would come out and be in my body, taking on the actual physical and emotional experience of abuse. She, because she was so vulnerable, developed a protector who both filtered access to her and protected any other woman being threatened. Then there was a part that preserved my childlike qualities so that I wouldn’t lose them to the abuse.

    Those are some examples of what I eventually learned were 10 splits in my psyche. Each of them had a name, or what could be called a label. As I healed, coming to terms with them growing to trust me and sharing their memories, experiences and purposes with me, I felt a desire to be known as the whole of us.

    I had been referred to all my life as Ann. And that was how my parts saw me: “Ann the Adult” or “Ann the Host.” It became obvious that when someone called me Ann, they were accessing only a small part of who I am. So, we all discussed it.

    “Healing” from DID is often thought of as “integration” of all the parts into a whole. That didn’t feel at all like that was appropriate for me. I love, respect and appreciate all my parts and don’t want to lose them in some conglomerate “me” at the end of the day.

    So, we decided that from that point forward we would collectively be called Annie. We even developed a ritual of a “baby shower” announcing the birth of the “new” me that I shared with about 20 friends. (They loved it!)

    Since then, I’ve corrected anyone who calls me Ann (unless it’s a situation where being just an adult is in our best interest). I looked into a legal name change, but was advised chances were slim for just the first name, and I’d have to justify the request. My lawyer felt there was a good chance any judge my case was assigned to would “pooh pooh” (that’s a technical legal term ;) ) my reasoning.

    Now, the only labels I accept are those I place on myself due to both my successes and aspirations. Those are: Nonconformist Spiritual Freak Blogger, Mentor, Writer, and Will-Be Wanderer. And I doubt I’m done adding to them. :D

    Annie <—(see?)

    P.S. (Cyndi: Don't worry about my being so "out" for my own sake. I've been "out" about both the abuse and DID for literally decades.)

    P.P.S. (I SO appreciate the new mobile option of your site!)

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  2. Kelley says:

    This is great, chris. I’ve been doing some work super recently around exactly this topic! Lots of interesting substance in this article – thank you for sharing with us.

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  3. Linda Back says:

    Is it possible to get in touch with Annie. I’ve been looking for someone like her, to talk to because we have the same thing. Finding Women close to my age who are self-aware, and who have times of struggle with this disorder are hard to find. They should be fairly easy to find because psychology has no real plan on therapy, psychology, or even meds to truly help. What works for one probably won’t work on another, and even when successful there are many relapses. There are also those times when attempting to counsel a Multiple, it backfires and hurts more than helps. Anyway if you could give her my information, perhaps she feels the same. Feel free to give her whatever information you have.
    Like Annie I was molested starting since before I had memories. One of my earliest memories was standing on my grandfathers belt and still not being tall enough to look him straight in the eye.
    My female babysitter took to molesting me in a very insidious way. She said we were actors in a play and had to do certain things. I suspect she too was molested and didn’t know any better.
    My mother abused me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. My father was a great alcoholic. He was abusive, but not around most of the time.
    As our abuser grooms us to accept abuse, we are easily spotted by other perpetrators. I really don’t know how many times I’ve been raped. I can only remember parts of one time when I almost lost my life. He was extremely violent, and he is still free. As abusers tend to accelerate in their violent actions, I would imagine I was probably the last one in his list of victims who have survived. He was going to kill me, he made me pass out by strangulation many times during the rape. He asked me how I wanted to die. Suffice it to say there was an intervention, and I survived.
    I will never report a rape again. It was like being abused all over, and it was obvious the cops considered it a lark. One even said, “If I had a woman in my house like you, I would probably rape you myself.” I swear that is the exact wording. It’s not like a sentence that could be easily forgotten. It’s not even the worst thing they said! I was only 15 and I accepted the nasty things they said as gospel, then. After all, they WERE the Cops you know. I no longer trust anyone with authority, unless they prove me wrong. I can really get twisted listening to their opinion of me. I am working on it. The same is true for me accepting the blame and guilt of all the abuse. No longer will I accept that in my mind. It’s changing my heart that’s difficult.
    The abuse went on and on until I started living alone. I discovered how being abused, regardless of the intensity, FELT. That was my ticket to stop, or at least majorly reduce the abuse in my life. One by one, I kicked even slightly abusive folks out of my life.
    Eventually I became agoraphobic on top of all the other disorders I have. Reportedly I have as many as 12 alters. I thought about integrating, but decided that because I have always been a Multiple I might not be able to function integrated.
    I’ve been labeled so many things that I didn’t deserve, I broke off from people who did the labeling. I’ve been working on recovery now for at least 25 years.
    I’ve just run into the fact that labels were a big problem for me and am working hard to change that. I super sensitive to what people say, I can’t seem to protect myself from the labels.
    I began positive affirmations. Every time it occurs to me I have a positive saying about me that I repeat. I say, “cancel, cancel”, when I hear an echo regarding myself that isn’t positive, and repeat the latest affirmation. I have affirmations written on index cards and posted. When I get used to it being there and it is no longer helping, make new ones to put in new places. I am learning how to break the ties of my negative past.
    I am a spiritual, loving, beautiful child of God, and I claim my place in God’s love.
    I hope this is relevant and not too long.

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  4. Anna says:

    When I went to search for labels to attach to myself, I found that I no longer can “label” myself. I am a retired teacher, so I can no longer use the label of “teacher”. I am divorced, so I am no longer a “wife”. I am a mother of a grown son, and even though he is still living, I lost him to drugs a few years ago, and when there is contact, he is abusive. So I don’t feel in sync with the label “mother”, as we have no relationship even though that is not my wish. I aspire to paint with water colors, but as of yet have not done so, so I don’t feel that I can label myself as a visual artist. I feel that I have an ability for creative writing, but as I haven’t done much of that either, I feel uncomfortable labeling myself as a writer.
    I also come from an abusive background, and have just recently eliminated those from my life who are abusive, primarily my family. i have also cut out the people in my life who were mildly abusive. For the first time in my life, I feel alone but somehow feel relieved at the same time. At the age of 63, my future seems very “blank”, and I am somewhat floundering, not knowing where to begin. I’m somewhat frozen so to speak. Could you give me some feedback?
    Thank you!

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  5. Chris Cade says:

    Hi Anna,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! You’re clearly at a very important and pivotal time in your life.

    I noticed that you wrote out many labels that are not you. It may be helpful for you to explore the prompt from a different direction:

    “If I am not these things I once was, who am I?”

    In other words, you may not be a “Wife” anymore. But are you now a “Divorced Woman”? A “Single Woman”? Even though your son is grown, are you still a “mother” when there is contact?

    If you are not a painter, then what or who are you?

    It sounds like you’re making some very important shifts in your life. Not tolerating abuse is a BIG one, and it will prove to be even more empowering for you as time goes on.

    With a blank future, the best thing you can do is ask more questions. Be curious. Instead of trying to “know” where to go or where to begin, be curious about WHAT IS HERE RIGHT NOW.

    When you know where you are and you are Present with that, then the next steps will naturally reveal themselves to you.

    I wish you well in your upcoming adventures, Anna!

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