Rewriting Your Past
Ep. 292
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rewrite you story

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In this episode, I dive deep into the power of rewriting your life story. Many of us carry a heavy baggage from our past, defined by a story we’ve constructed, often filled with shame and self-limiting beliefs. By reframing our stories, acknowledging resilience, and understanding our trauma responses, we can break free from self-imposed limitations. I provide practical steps for you to rewrite your stories and to shape a future you desire. Join me in unraveling the layers of your narrative  to design a life you love.

Show Transcript
Hey! Welcome to Lessons from a Quitter where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time or energy you've spent getting to where you are. If ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.
Hello my friends, and welcome to another episode. I'm so excited to have you here. This is sort of a two-parter series. I mean, you can listen to them independently, but I think that if you haven't listened to last week's episode about understanding your own responses, your own reactions to things, then I would start there because I think it gives kind of the context of what we're gonna talk about today. If you have listened, great today, we're just gonna continue that conversation.
But we talk about how to change your past and what I mean by that, when I say it's like a lot of people think, well, how can you change your past? It's already done. But the reality is, is that our past, not in the sense of like the events that happened to you, but the way that your past lives with you is just a story.
You have a story about your past, and that story oftentimes is very narrowly construed. It's you, something happened, you created a story about it in very narrow terms, and then you take that story as if it's the gospel. Like, this is just the fact the sky is blue and this was what my childhood was, or this is how I was, or this is how I am. And so many of us identify with that story so deeply that we think there's nothing I can do to change. What's really fascinating is that usually the story is just half the truth. And so when you kind of zoom out or you change your attention to other parts of that story, you start realizing like, I don't even have to change the whole story. All the evidence is right there, that I'm actually not just this, you know, one dimensional person that does things this way, I also did these other things, or I also react this other way.
And so sometimes mostly it's just looking at the real story. But oftentimes it's like, how do I retell this story in a different way? How do I stop rehearsing the story that I've been telling myself for decades? Because for so many of us, the story is not usually a good one, and it's one that comes with a lot of heavy baggage, and we're just carrying this baggage around and we carry it with us throughout our lives, and we allow it to dictate what we do, what we go after, who we are, who we're allowed to be, who we're allowed to love the things we're allowed to dream of. And it's all based on this idea of who we think we are from our childhood. It's this idea of what, this is what I can do, this is what I'm capable of, this is who I am.
And honestly, I think that's one of the most dangerous and one of the most powerful sentences that you can construct is I am blank, right? Whatever you filled in after I am becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy, right? It becomes this thing that your brain then continues to look for evidence for, and then you keep solidifying, like, this is my personality. And when you start realizing how malleable it is and you start realizing how much you can change it, I can't tell you how much that opens up in your life because you realize, oh, I'm still doing it. Now, I've talked about this a couple of times in different contexts on this podcast. Like I talked about how I've gotten into this journey of reading and it's now made me like, want to stay home and just read all the time. And I was thinking about like, if I had discovered this love of reading when I was a child and I had read this much for fun, then I likely would've created my personality around that.
Like I would've decided that I'm someone that doesn't like being around people and I like being alone and I'm an introvert and all these other things that we tack on because like, this is what I find joy from. And it's interesting to do it at this stage in my life where it's like, I already had a set personality before this, and now this is just one additional aspect of it. And it's not, you know, I am XI am an introvert. I like being alone. It's like I have now found something that brings me joy. And so I, I say that to say like, so much of my personality might have been different if I was introduced to different things if I had a different childhood, right? Obviously. But it's not inherent to me like this is my personality. And so today I wanna talk about the importance of rewriting that story and how to do that, right?
Why, I mean, I've talked a little bit about what the importance of it, but I think, I think for a lot of us we don't realize how much that story holds us back, how much that story dictates the life that we create for ourselves. And so while you can also rewrite your future, you can write a different ending for your life. You can decide like, I want my life to go in this other way and I wanna change. And that's beautiful. Oftentimes it requires you to rewrite your past too, to realize, Hey, I am the person that can go after this. I am a person that is whatever, fill in the blank. You wanna put like persistent, committed, hardworking joyful, whatever you want, right? It's like I already have those traits in me. I don't have to change to become that person. And so I honestly think it could be one of the most powerful things that you can do is learning to rewrite your story. And I'm gonna tell you like a couple of examples that I've seen, just the power in this for myself and some of the my clients that I work with. I recently had a client that, you know, it opened my own eyes again to like the power of doing this. But I'll talk about myself first.
If you've followed me for any period of time, you know that I talk a lot about how my story had always been that I was lazy, that I'm a lazy person, and I had created this iron clad like story that like you could not convince me of otherwise, that I just had zero energy and I never wanted to do anything. And I was super lazy and I would always take kind of the easy way out. And I had a lot of evidence to back that up. I had evidence that I wanted to take a nap every single day, like literally from when I was a child. I don't know what children you knew that like wanted to come home and sleep after, you know, the age of five. But that was me through college. Like every day I would wanna take a nap and never, I always felt tired.
I, you know, if given the choice between going out and like doing something versus staying home, I wanted to stay home. I wanted to do nothing. I wanted to do things that were like very low lift. I'm not super adventurous. I'm not super athletic. I'm not someone that like has a, I don't wake up like jumping out of bed, you know, I was never a morning person. So I had all of these things that was like, I just wanna cuddle and be under the covers and watch a movie. And so I translated that to like, I'm a super lazy person and it wasn't just me by the way. Like I got that message from everybody in my family. My family co is a lot of high achievers, a lot of people that never sit down. And so I constantly heard the refrain of the, you're so lazy.
Why are you so lazy? Get up. Why do you always have to lay? Why do you always take a nap? You know, get up earlier, go do something, go outside, whatever. And so clearly that story stuck with me for a really, really long time. And what I started doing this exercise that I'm gonna tell you, one of the fascinating things that I started realizing was how much evidence I had to ignore in order to keep that story propped up, right? So I had to ignore the fact that I was a straight A student through college, never got a BI went, I never missed school a day. I was in school every single day. I always got all of my work done. I had jobs from when I was 14. I started tutoring and I had a job all through my life, basically after 14.
I had a job at all times. I was in various clubs. I went to, you know, college had a job. I went to top 10 law school, I, which, you know, requires a lot of work. I went and worked as a lawyer. I worked routinely 70, 80 hour weeks. I would work 24 hour days. You know, it would, and no matter what was required, I would do it. Like I had classes in law school that would be three day finals and I would be up for three days doing this final and things like that. Obviously I could do it. Obviously I had enough energy to be able to be successful in my life. And yet I had to ignore all of that. I had to ignore everything I had accomplished. I had to ignore every achievement I had in order to continuously tell myself and everybody else.
Like, no, I'm just a really real lazy person. Now, it's not to say there wasn't some truth to the fact that I like, like doing things that have less of a lift. Like I like more chill environments. I like more chill activities. But to have taken on this identity that I am a lazy human being was laughable when I looked at what I had accomplished and I never saw it. And it's funny 'cause a lot of people in my family didn't see it, even though I was like arguably one of the more successful people in my family. And I had, you know, reached a lot of really high heights and I had, was constantly accomplishing and I was, you know, constantly doing things. Yet everybody had this view of me, of like as the lazy one. And I went along with it too until I started thinking like, what if that's not the story?
What if that's not the truth? What if that's not the whole truth? What if that's not my personality? What if that's not my identity? And one of the things that I realized, and this is how you know why I talk about last week's episode and I think it goes hand in hand, is I also was like very angry all the time at myself for being so lazy. So it wasn't just that I was like, like, now I'm a little bit more like you know, of course I'm lazy and I love it and it's s quirky and like, I like that I take care of myself and I like that I rest. And I like that I don't give into hu hustle culture. Like that's all well and good. I had a lot of shame around this for most of my life. Like, I had a lot of shame that like, why can't I be as energetic as other people?
Why can't I make it through a day without taking a nap? Why can't I want to get up and kind of take the bull by the horns and jump out of bed and wanna do, it's just not my personality. And I would get really frustrated about it and I would constantly think about how, you know, woe is me have a little pity party that like, my life is so hard 'cause I don't have energy. And when I started really learning about my own trauma responses, I talked about this on last week's episode that like, I tend to go in a, into a lot of freeze states when I'm very stressed, I shut down. I completely shut down, okay? I don't fight. I'm a very non-confrontational person. I don't run away. I'm not an un like I don't have attachment issues. I am perfectly fine in relationships committing myself to people like having the, like sticking around doing all that stuff.
I don't really flee. I don't do that stuff. I just shut down. And when I started really looking back at my childhood and looking back at that story and realizing that like my body learned very early on, and I, you know, this isn't like a place to talk about all of my traumas, but when I was born into I was born during the Iran Iraq war, I was born in a war. There was obviously a lot of stress going on. There was a lot of things that happened to my family in that time. The first couple of years of my life was in you know, during bombings and things like that. So clearly it was at a time where my nervous system was being developed. There was a lot of stress happening. And then early on in my life, you know, at four or five we moved countries and you come to a new country.
And no matter whether I understood what was happening or not, it was also a very stressful time for my parents. And we moved into a like very small two bedroom apartment with my uncle's family. So it was like eight of us living in a fa in a small apartment. And it was a very stressful time for my parents. For me I was five. So I didn't really understand what was happening. But needless to say, my nervous system had to figure out a way to kind of survive this, right? Had to figure out a way to handle all of the chaos that was happening in our, in my life. And I don't know whether that's like my body was, would always be like, this would always react this way or it was because of my circumstances. Who knows, nature, nurture, don't really know. Doesn't really matter.
'Cause The reality was like that was what my body would do. And I started realizing that like when there is stressful situations, my body literally shuts down and puts me to sleep to be able to handle all of the chaos or the stress. And that's such a beautiful defense mechanism. I really look back and I'm so grateful for myself that I didn't do more destructive things or I didn't get into things that would harm me more, or I didn't create sort of dissociative states or whatever my brain could have come up with in order to protect me. And what it did was like, you know what? We, we need to shut it down. We cannot handle what's happening, so we're gonna go to sleep. And what's interesting is that as I've done a as I've gone on this like journey of healing over the last couple of years and as I've worked through my, a lot of my own traumas, lo and behold, I actually have so much more energy.
What's really fascinating is that I'm not as tired all the time. I don't ever take naps anymore. I am someone that can usually have a lot of energy throughout the day. Like I've, I, I wouldn't say I'm like a highly energetic person and I still kind of go into free states when my nervous system is under stress. But what's interesting is I realized when I was in these artificial states, like with school kind of the the, when I had my perfectionism and my need to achieve and to prove myself, and there was all of this stress from early on all through law school and then as a lawyer, my body reacted by shutting me down. Now that wasn't the most convenient reaction. Like when you're trying to build a career, it wasn't like ideal for me, but my body doesn't care that I was trying to become a successful lawyer.
My body cared about keeping me alive. And when there was so much anxiety and there was so much stress and there was so much cortisol and there was so much going on in my body, my body just shut it down. And when I started realizing that it shifted so much in how I looked at my own childhood and I looked at how I reacted to things and I look at how my body reacts now and there's so much gratitude and understanding and curiosity instead of shame and blame and anger at myself, like, why can't you just be different? I was like, huh, well this is, this makes sense. I'm actually like super grateful for my to myself that like, thank God I have these sort of natural abilities to self-soothe and this is the way that I self-soothe. And it's allowed me to not only shift that narrative to realize like I'm not just a lazy person.
Like this was how I responded to this very unnatural circumstances that I lived in. Whether it's the stress from my parents moving countries and all that stuff, and like the war or even school and the need to try to please everybody and to be, you know, to kind of take the stress off at home by being the perfect kid. And doing all these things like that also brought about a lot of stress. Those were like my defense mechanisms of like being the overachiever so that like not making waves, being the people pleaser so that I didn't add to like any other stress within the home. And realizing that like the way that my brain and my nervous system reacted was this, like, this was my kind of trauma response. And so I have shifted that story a lot because now I see myself as such a resilient person.
Like the fact that I learned how to survive that the fact that I learned how to get through my hardest times, even if I didn't do it in the best way possible, right? Even if, even if it wasn't ideal for the career I wanted to create, even if it wasn't like a plus, you know, the most healthy defense mechanism or whatnot. Like my body learned how to take care of me. I learned how to take care of me. I learned how to survive what I needed to survive. I learned how to get myself through whatever the hardest times were. And that's something to be so fricking proud of, right? That's something to be so grateful for. And I talked about this, I don't wanna skip over this. Like I, I was talking about this last week in the trauma responses. When we think about when I was talking about nature versus nurture and we think about how we respond to things, there is a there was a study done that's, that blows my mind and it makes a lot of sense, but it still blows my mind.
They did a study on mice where they sprayed like a scent and then they gave the mice a shock and they did it enough times where you, you know, like Pavlov's dogs, you start linking it. And so when that spray was sprayed, the scent was sprayed the mice would freeze, right? They would sort of go into shock or like they would freeze because they knew a shock was coming even when no shock was administered. Okay? That's obviously we know that that's gonna happen. What was mind blowing is that even like, I think it was three generations later of those mice who had never been shocked, who had never actually felt the shock when that scent was sprayed, they would freeze, right? They would go into this kind of anxiety state and freeze because they were expecting something. Now the reason obviously this is like a lot of research into like generational trauma and how things pass down to DNA and it makes a lot of sense evolutionarily, right?
Where it's like if your ancestors ate a fruit that made them six sick, it's really important for us to sort of not have to reinvent the wheel each generation, like you don't have to know because you got attacked by tiger that a tiger is dangerous. Like you sort of have to have these like six senses about like, hey, I suspect danger here. Even if you don't understand it, right? You have to start like that's how evolution works. This is how we've been able to survive. So it makes sense, but I'm gonna get to the point I promise bringing it back, I think about of this a lot because I think a lot of times we don't understand why we have certain reactions. We don't understand like, why am I so anxious? Why do I feel like this? Why is my heart beating outta my chest?
Why am I so defensive? Why do I, does my anger, you know, like shoot off the roof? Like, and I'm not saying that it's all nature or it's all nurture or that we even know. I just look at these things and I'm like, but what if we don't need to know? But what if this is just the way that your body was designed to react? Like maybe your ancestors and what they went through. Like even if you personally did not go through certain traumas, maybe your body reacts a certain way because your ancestors did in order to survive the traumas they went through, right? So I think a lot about this, like even when I shut down, when obviously like getting an A in school is not that stressful of a situation in the grand scheme of things, my body doesn't know that. My body doesn't know what the hell is happening.
And if I have developed certain traits, right? If I have in my DNA certain reactions, certain things where when I sense danger, my body goes into a certain reaction, I don't have to know where that comes from. Like the point of all this is like, you don't have to be like, well this is why I do this. And I think a lot of times within science and psychology and even coaching and all this stuff, like we wanna have an answer for things. We wanna know like, why am I getting like this? It's like, who cares why you are? And like, can you be with yourself during that time? Can you understand yourself? Can you have compassion for yourself? Can you have more empathy for why you're acting this way? Even if you don't know why you have anxiety, can you know like I'm feeling this in my body right now.
My my heart is racing, right? I'm sweating. I have a lot of adrenaline course thing through my body. What do I need? Do I wanna do a breathing exercise? Do I wanna go for a walk? What does my body need to calm down? And I swear the more you do this, like the more you start building self-trust that you can take care of yourself. And the more you do it from a place of compassion and you do it from a place of understanding, the more you can help control those reactions, the more you can talk yourself when, like, when you are in that heightened state, really understanding like, Hey, I'm safe. I'm okay. Right? So I say all this to say that for me, a really big shift I had was when I changed that story about myself being lazy. When I really started understanding what that reaction was, when I really started realizing like how beneficial that reaction was, when I started becoming grateful to myself for having that, when I started seeing all the rest of it, I started seeing like the rest of my story and how resilient I was and how strong I was and how persistent I was and how much of a hard worker I was.
And I started like not ignoring that part of it. And it changed how I looked at myself and how I looked at myself, changed what I thought I was capable of. I remember when I wanted to start a business, one of the reasons I didn't start this podcast for like two years, three years is I kept telling myself, you're too lazy to have a business.
You don't have the energy to do things on your own. You need someone else to tell you what to do. You'll never stick to this. You won't, you know, like I kept looking at people that were like, oh, I built my business. When my kid goes to sleep and I'm like, I'm too tired for that. I, I don't have to, I can't. And it wasn't until I like really, I mean I had started the business before this, but really just kind of pushing through and being like, no, I can, you know, muscle my way through. And when I realized like, that story is just not true. I'm not too lazy. What was fascinating, I was like, I work 80 hour weeks as lawyers and then as a lawyer then I'm telling myself I'm too lazy to start a business. And so I really had to rework that story.
I recently had the same thing happen with a client. I had a one one-on-one client and we were going through her life story. And so I'm gonna tell you how you can do this in a minute, but I was having her write her story and it was so fascinating 'cause we went through like four iterations versions of this. And when she first wrote, I mean I won't go through all of it, we, you go through like chapters of your life and like the first chapter was her childhood, like through high school. And she was talking a lot about, very similar to me, where she talked about how she would sleep a lot. Like she was just sleeping all the time. And so a lot of her story was that like, I'm this very similar like lazy person who just slept like she would, I remember this the phrase she said, I slept through my whole childhood.
And I was like, well, that that's not true. That can't be true. And the more we dug into it and the more we talked about her life and the more we talked about what she actually did, and it was fascinating to see that how much she actually did in her childhood and how much she did to survive. When I got her like last version, I really started crying. 'cause I was like to look at the difference in how she told the story. I remember she had, you can, you can title the chapters and the first chapter in her first version, she titled it Sleeping Beauty. And it was a short chapter and it was like, well, you know, there was a lot of problems at home and I just slept all the time and I slept through my whole childhood. And as we kind of picked at this like, well what does that really mean?
And what else were you doing? And how did you make it through school and you know, whatever. Like it became this very long and beautiful chapter about her childhood years. And in it she saw how many ways she did like, tried to survive it, what things she did to try to get out of certain situations. Like how she started creating relationships with teachers at school and joining student leadership council so that she didn't have to be at home at certain times and all of these things she was doing. And then when she was home because she couldn't leave, I mean she had to stay at home. She would sleep, she would choose to sleep so that she wasn't engaging in what was happening. And, and in the chapter she was writing about how grateful she was to our younger self for not doing more self-destructive things for not getting involved in drugs and alcohol and a lot of stuff that other people do to self-medicate.
And again, there's no judgment on that. Even that is most people just trying to run away from the pain 'cause they don't understand how else to do it. It's trying to self-medicate because your nervous system is so out of whack, right? But when she started realizing like, Hey, I was doing this stuff to maintain my sanity to, to bring down the level of stress that I had and so I don't have to be mad at myself that that's what my little brain during that time decided like this is, listen, I've tried these other routes. I tried talking, I tried getting help, I tried doing all this stuff and none of that worked. So I went to, I just sleep a lot of the time and how beautiful of my brain to do that. How grateful of my little self to like be that resilient. And when I, I remember reading it and I'm, I'm telling you I got, I started crying because I was like, it's such a different way to view yourself.
It's so different than like blaming yourself for doing the best that you could with what you had for having shame that you somehow weren't superhuman and should have figured it out at the age of 15. You know, like when your brain isn't even fully formed. And I'm telling you, every single one of you has the same exact story that you have some kind of negative story that is not the full truth and it is not the way, the way that you should be looking at it because it likely has a lot of shame and a lot of blame. And when you look at it as a, in a different way, you start seeing your own story with in such a different light. And you start seeing all of the things that you have created from that story. And that when you start noticing your reactions and you realize where they can come from and you really give yourself that grace and that gratitude, it changes how you approach your future. Like this work is so important. Be not because like the past is in the past, it's over, it's done fine, but it allows you to put down that baggage for a little while and say like, you know what? I don't need to carry this anymore. I did the best that I could with what I had and I'm proud of myself for that.
And now I'm gonna do different, right? And now I'm gonna be my own friend and now I'm going to give myself what I need and I'm gonna figure out how my nervous system reacts and I'm gonna learn how to self-soothe. And if you know now maybe I don't need the same trauma responses, maybe I don't need to get under the bed all the time and take a nap. Maybe I can learn like, hey, we're okay even if we feel tired or whatnot. But you can't do that until you've sort of rectified this belief that you have that you are just this person that does X or that you were wrong to do Y right? So what I want you to do in order to start changing this story is I want you to like write out your life story however you want. You can write it out.
What I typically encourage is like write it out in different chapters. You can, you get to decide, there's no right or wrong way to do this. You get to decide the chapters that you wanna make. You can do early, you know, you can do one that's like your early childhood and then one that's high school is a second chapter. You could do all of your childhood, you could do only three chapters in your life. You can make it however you want. Don't be perfectionist about this, but title it, title the story, title, the story that you are telling about yourself right now. How you would title it now, right? Title the chapters. What is the chapter about your childhood? What is the chapter about college? What is the chapter about your first relationship or whatever you want? And write out all your thoughts about it.
Write it out without editing. And how you think about yourself, how you think about other people. See, you know, am I playing the victim in this? Do I think it's other people's fault? Do I am I having a pity party? Am I angry at myself? Do I have a lot of shame? Like, let it come out. 'cause That's the only way we're gonna clean it up. That's the only way we're gonna like, deal with those thoughts. And then after you do it, rewrite it and rewrite it with you as the hero of the story. If you are the hero of your own story, how would you tell that story different? How would you look at those things that you think were kind of things you're not proud of or things you wish you were different or things that, and how were those ways in which you survived what you survived?
How were those ways in which you did the best that you could? How are those ways that like set you up to create the life that you wanted or the life that you thought you wanted or whatever, right? Like how do you retell that story? And you can rewrite it as many times as you want, but I promise you when you start looking at that, you start seeing how easy it is to change a story about what you thought was a fact. And you can do this about anything. You can do this about relationships that you've had. You can do this about events that have happened. You can do this about, you know, degrees you went after. It's like, what is the story I'm telling about this now? And how can I change that story? I'm not gonna change the facts of what happened, but what is the story I want to tell about it going forward?
What is the story that's empowering to me? What is a story that's gonna serve me? How do I wanna feel about myself? How do I get curious about this? Like, why was I reacting like this? Why did I do that? Where did that come from? When you start doing that, it's amazing how much baggage you can just let go of. It's amazing how much you can change that story of yourself. And if you want help with that, I want you to come get coaching in the club. This is stuff that's not really easy to do. I understand that. And sometimes we get stuck of like, am I doing this right? You know I don't really see another way of writing this story.

This is really important work and it's really important to just not listen to this concept but like actually implement it. And so I want you to get help, even if it's not for me.
Get a coach to help you work through these stories because just that can liberate so much of what you go after and what you do in your life, right? Just changing one story can help you see yourself in such a different light can help you let go of so much of the shame that you hold onto. So if you want my help, I would love to have you in the Quitter Club. You can go to and get on the wait list. I think one of the months our theme is gonna be rewriting our past and we're gonna do this together. I'm not exactly sure what month that's gonna be. I will let you guys know, but it's gonna come up in the next couple of months. So if you wanna be in on that, get on the wait list and come join us. All right, my friends, I hope you find this helpful. Go out and rewrite those stories. Make yourself the hero of your story. It's your story. Nobody else gets to be the hero. All right, I'll see you guys next week for another episode.
Hey, if you are looking for more in-depth help with your career, whether that's dealing with all of the stress, worry, and anxiety that's leading to burnout in your current career or figuring out what your dream career is and actually going after it, I want you to join me in the Quitter Club. It is where we quit what is no longer working. Like perfectionism, people pleasing imposter syndrome… and we start working on what does, and we start taking action towards the career and the life that you actually want. We will take the concepts that we talk about on the podcast and apply them to your life and you will get the coaching, tools, and support that you need to actually make some real change. So go to and get on the waitlist. Doors are closed right now, but they will be open soon.