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Who Are You Without Your Story?

Posted in Becoming Conscious, Guest post, Spotlight on Intuitive Friends | 18 comments

Today I am sharing a guest post by the wonderfully creative Patti Foy.  You can find her at LightspiritedBeing where she shares her many talents, writing foremost among them!


Do you have a story?

Something tells me you do. We all do. Oh boy, do we have stories!

And I’m not talking about just the ones we tell, those that amuse, or elucidate.

I’m also talking about those we drag around with us like a ball and chain.

Have you ever wondered who you would be without your story? Would you be anything at all? Or would you just be like the hole in a doughnut?

You would be free, that’s what.

Let me tell you a story about stories. ;-)

Culture Shock

About 15 years ago my husband and I packed up and moved from the bustling San Francisco Bay Area where we were software engineers to a laid-back remote area in the high desert of NM.

We bought a mobile home to live in while we planned our straw-bale dream house and moved onto our property.

We were ready for something different but were totally unprepared for just how different it was. Sometimes we walked around in a daze wondering what we’d done.

Identity Crisis

In many ways, though, different was good. I had the luxury of not having to work right away, and enjoyed volunteering for lots of different venues.

One of the most rewarding was that I helped found an animal rescue organization in our rural area.

But it wasn’t long before I noticed something. My fellow volunteers treated me different than I was used to. They kind of talked down to me, didn’t really listen to me, ignored my great ideas.

One day it hit me why: No one knew “who I was”. Or what I had accomplished. Or what I could do. Those laurels I’d been resting on were gone.

To these people, I was just some unemployed female who lived in a trailer over in a less developed area that people in “The Village” kind of looked down on.

That was my first revelation.

It was soon after that when I realized I wouldn’t return to software engineering. We didn’t have much room so I was sorting through books to donate, and came across all my programming books and lots of college math books.

I loved math (yes, I was a little nerd), but I would never use these again. Still, I’ll never forget how hard I cried while I packed them up to give away. All I was really letting go of was my self-image as a smarty-pants. But it was tough, and I was surprised how much it hurt. It was like a part of me was being torn out. Really.

I did some serious soul-searching with that one.

Letting Go Of The Old Story

Soon after that, it dawned on me that I was trying to be a character in my old story. I decided to let go of it. I didn’t want to have to feel the need to validate myself like that any more.

At first I thought I had to start a new story, a new character, and maybe I did, in a way. But at the same time, I knew I didn’t want to trade one story or identity in for another.

To some extent, we all live a story automatically, by definition. But oddly, my new story included wanting to learn to live without a story.

I wanted to lose the need for a story and I wanted to be free of the context.

What the heck does that mean?

The Freedom of Life Without A Story

My first introduction to this idea was the experience of moving and not being able to carry who/what I thought I was with me very easily.

And then the resulting epiphany that it’s best not to.

Although our stories have some benefits, for the most part they’re a handicap because they shape our idea of who we think we are. This might not sound so bad, but we are sooooo cheating ourselves if we live that way.

Especially because usually we aren’t aware how much identity we have tied up in them.

You might be a wife. A mother. A savvy businesswoman or man. A kind person. A smart person. Reliable. Strong. Weak. Struggling. A screw-up. Whatever.

But all of these things, although roles or characteristics, really are not who/what you are. Not at your core.

At the core you just are. You are in this moment, fresh and new. Imagine yourself in this moment, without a past … without a future. Just now, who you are.

Got it?

Isn’t that different? Doesn’t that feel kind of great?

All that other stuff is just conceptual. Even the so-called “good” stuff becomes a noose around your neck if that’s who you think you are. It defines you at some level.

When you let go of that and allow yourself to just be in the moment, you are so much more responsive to life. You can literally feel it moving through you, as you move through it. Life becomes a fascinating, spontaneous dance.

As you become more and more present, you are more in touch with your surroundings. More aware of what is really happening instead of just seeing what you expect to see. And you become much more intuitive.

Glowing Recommendations

I recommend you play with this idea, with trying it out.

You can also learn a lot from those who’ve mastered it. Here are some of the best teachers on the planet right now, IMHO:

1) Eckhart Tolle speaks and writes much about presence. If you’re not familiar with him, I highly recommend his books The Power of Now and A New Earth. They can be life-changing.

2) Byron Katie is quite radical, and I especially love her book A Thousand Names for Joy. But she has a lot of free information on her website too, most of it about “The Work”, a simple yet powerful technique that’s amazing for getting you past your stories.

3) John Sherman’s teaching is the most radical and powerful of all. It’s the ultimate how-to for getting to that space where Eckhart and Katie live. He has a book called Look at Yourself (including a free download of it on his website), and enough videos and audios to keep you busy. All of his offerings are free.

And with that, I’ll bid you adieu! Thanks for reading this far, and thanks so much to you, Lisa, for inviting me into your lovely space. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Do any of you have some stories about stories? Or recommendations for “being” without a story? Or do you disagree and love your story? I’d love to hear!

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  1. Lisa


    Thanks so much for this!  I remember a summer when I was between jobs and when I was out and about in the middle of the day I almost (ALMOST!) wanted to wear a sign that said "I am just between jobs. I really do work!" as if I had to validate myself to strangers! My persona of "someone who works in an office during the day" was really a life-line to me.  I really didn't know who the "hang out at home Lisa" was.  

    Good points for us as we all try to figure out what our story is and who we are should we leave all that behind.


    • Patti Foy

      Oh, Lisa, thank YOU! And what a sweet introduction you wrote — thanks for that, too.

      You know, I really love the "feel" of your blog and your readers, and am priveleged to be able to post here. It's funny how much I feel like I'm in your space, even though I'm sitting at my same old desk right now.

      And like I mentioned, I love the stories you tell here, and I think it's so funny I found myself writing a story about letting go of stories. Ah, isn't life goofy sometimes?

      As to what you just said, you really captured the idea of how we crave that validation from someone else — anyone else — everyone else! Sounds like you were able to be aware of it, though, which can make all the difference.


  2. josephinecarr

    I thought this was a superb post, and I'm not easy to please, I regret to say.  In many ways, divorce created an opportunity for me to do as you've suggested:  I left behind the powerful persona of "novelist" and "wife of CEO" for, well, nothing.  I even stopped publishing for awhile, although that looks to be taking off again.  I love the freedom of being Josephine Carr, who remains unidentified and simply herself.  Sometimes I miss the money, and the way money can definitely alleviate fears, but so be it.  Now I look at the fears and say, Trust.  It's working.


    • Patti Foy

      Hi Josephine,

      First, thank you! I'm glad you liked the post.

      And second… I think what you did sounds even more tricky than what I did, what with a divorce. A whole layer deeper, I would think. (Not always the case, but in yours it sounds like it.)

      I love where you say "I love the freedom of being Josephine Carr, who remains unidentified and simply herself." And also, where you say "Trust". That's it, isn't it? All very inspiring, and thanks for sharing it!


  3. Patricia

    I so enjoyed reading your words today Patti and thank you Lisa for the introduction. When I had to stop working to get my youngest child through school and launched and then care for my Mother while she died, I experience a sensation of being no one – just these hands, and legs and care giver/ problem-solver 24/7 for 10years There was no time for reflection of even relaxation – I was always on guard. Then when my mum died there was this sensation of freedom and release that was nearly overwhelming and was curbed in as my liver became inflamed and adrenal glands would not regulate and I spent 2 years sitting in a chair trying to breath and survive…..I was allowed to let go of my career, damn I nearly scared their socks off and they didn't want to be with me….
    now I feel as though I am emerging and working on staying in the present moment – in this space….other than the horrendous lack of funds – I really like it here and now
    If I stay here my husband will have to work another 12 years until he is 76 to just pay off our child's medical bills and we have no funds now for retirement after 2008 – I am sometimes just in the depths of despair about our financial situation – but I like it right here and now…


    • Patti Foy | Lightspirited Being

      Hi Patricia,

      Seems you’ve really had some challenges this time around. Thanks for sharing that, as well as your road back to recovery which it sounds like you are still traveling.

      I’ve been through something perhaps similar to you with regard to funds… And again, it’s not so much the story of me that I had to let go of but the story of how things work, how they’re supposed to work, etc. It’s all so temporary. But you/me are real, and safe, and immortal. I’m coming to know that first hand at long last.

      Thanks so much for your input and I wish you lots of blessings.


    • Patti Foy

      Hi Patricia,

      (Agh! I typed in a reply to you already but when I pressed submit it got lost. One more time… and if you get two replies, that's why.)

      Sounds like you've had some major challenges this time around. I appreciate your sharing them as well as your journey of recovery, which it sounds like you are still traveling.

      I had a similar situation with funds. Kind of like you, I had to let go not so much the story of me, but the story of how I thought things work — even more, how I thought they were supposed to work. Allowing myself to have no ground has been the saving grace. Have you read Pema Chodron's book "When Things Fall Apart"? I don't know if it's your style but I loved it. It gave me several new perspectives and much comfort.

      Thank you very much for your comments and I wish you lots of blessings!


  4. Kara

    Hi Patti, Lovely post! I experienced losing my own "office authority persona" when I was at home for a year on maternity leave, after each of my children were born. It was a huge shock both times. Going back to work, was an equally big shock. These experiences were a valuable reminder though, that everything really is impermanent and just an illusion – our personas aren't who we really are. Both experiences showed me that while I was both roles, I wasn't only a worker or only a mother. I am a complicated mixture of these things and more. Having kids is helpful in reminding me of who I am, since they love "the real me". They don't really care what I do as a job, just how I live in the moment with them. I will refer to this post again, as I transition into more part-time work. Kara


    • Patti Foy

      Awww, Kara, thanks!

      You say it perfectly: "Everything really is impermanent and just an illusion – our personas aren't who we really are." Ha, I could have saved some time on this post and just written that, not kidding! ;-)

      My son is grown and I don't have kids at home now but my doggies love me just how I am, so I know the feeling! Good luck as you transition, I hope you enjoy every bit of the journey.


  5. Julie

    I completely relate to what you've written here, as well as some of the commenters. When I lost my full-time job, with fantastic salary and benefits, last year I cringed when walking into the gym at 8am instead of 5:30am. Suddenly I was with a whole new group of people. The ones without day jobs. And I felt like I had a sign on my forehead that said,"Lost job. People hated me. No idea how I will support my children." It lasted for about two weeks until I forced myself to recognize that (1) no one cares (2) not everyone is boxed into an office from 8-5 (3) I had better figure out who I am and why I identified so closely with that business world that I actually lost interest in a long time ago. It's been an interesting year! Thanks for the post.


    • Lisa

      Julie, isn't that the truth?  It really does feel like we are walking around with those big signs on us for a while, especially if our identity has been tied into "a day job" for so long.  But boy, you are right on your realizations.  No one cares at all (it's a projection of our own mind) and yep, people work all kinds of shifts.

      Great comment and I thank you so much for visiting!


  6. Patti Foy

    Hi Julie,

    Thanks for sharing this. I love your no-nonsense approach once you saw what was happening, and also your realization that no one cares! That one has helped get me through quite a few important issues. And the biggest is that you saw you had lost interest in it anyway. (I hope you're moving into or doing something you truly love now.)

    I think it's interesting how many of us get so much of our identity not just from what we do but that we do at all, i.e. that we have a job. I got laid off once and although it was all logically explainable (the whole department got laid off in a restructure, they even hired me back as a consultant for twice the hourly rate), I had nightmares about it for months. We are so conditioned! It's such a big step just being aware of it all.


  7. brideofcadavra

    I loved this so much. Thank you, and thank you for the links… I already consider Tolle my guru, but had never heard of the others! I'll be looking them up.


    • Lisa

      Hi there!

      Thanks for popping over.  Patti is a great writer and comes up with ideas that really connect with others. I see she has done it again!  Tolle IS awesome, isn't he?

      Hope to see you again soon.


    • Patti Foy

      Hello there fellow Tolle enthusiast!
      Yes, if you like Tolle, you will surely like Byron Katie. And as for John Sherman, he's a different animal altogether. I'd love to hear what you think of his message once you get familiar with it.
      Thanks for coming by and glad you like the links!


  8. Pamela

    Great post. I really resonated with this line about "our stories" – " Especially because usually we aren’t aware how much identity we have tied up in them" and "Even the so-called “good” stuff becomes a noose around your neck if that’s who you think you are. It defines you at some level." I've been in the process of writing about coming to terms with losing "my old identity" and what that means. You articulated this much better than I've been able to at this point. I think this post is so relevant to where we are energetically as a planet and our move to oneness. I think our individual identities and stories are really losing importance. At least I know mine is. I look forward to checking out John Shearman's work too.

    Lisa- thanks for sharing Patti's beautiful work with us.


    • Patti Foy

      Hi Pamela,

      Just on the chance you're checking back after all this time… I replied right after you posted but Lisa kindly confirmed for me this morn that it must have gotten lost. Oh well!

      I loved your observation "I think this post is so relevant to where we are energetically as a planet and our move to oneness. I think our individual identities and stories are really losing importance." Yes, I agree things are shifting and many of us try to hang on for dear life. But seems we've got to open to the new. It's got to be something better and if we can flow with the change it will be much less painful!

      I look forward to reading what you said you are writing about your own process. Will it be on your blog? Hope so!

      Thank you for your great comment.


  9. pamela

    Hi Patti- Yes, "it's got to be something better." I'm holding that vision too. The more of us who do, the better the outcome. I do hope to have it on my blog soon.


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