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Cultural Stories

Have you ever stopped to notice just how many thoughts and choices that we make can be traced back to messages we received from our society and culture?

How often do you pause to question these messages that underlie so many of your daily moments?

During my recent vacation I noticed a number of cultural messages that were making their appearances within my thought patterns. One in particular was about rest and relaxation. Now luckily, I already knew that this cultural pattern is a sticky point for me (hello recovering overachiever and perfectionist of here)! So of course when opportunities for rest and slowing down presented themselves, as you can imagine they would on a three week vacation, these cultural messages that I’ve inherited flared up and said things like…

  • “No you don’t deserve to rest!”

  • “Not yet! You need to finish this insane list of things first before you can sit down.”

  • “Mmm it’s actually not okay for you, Briar, to rest”.

Now, I think that most of us can relate to messages like these. Most of us grew up in a society where great value was placed on achievement, financial success, and using your increasing workload like a status symbol. Most of us have some sort of story in our thoughts about laziness, rest, and work when these opportunities arise which challenge our cultural messages.

If we’re not aware of these cultural messages then we might allow these inner messages to run rampant, hijacking our opportunities for rest. BUT if we are aware of these messages and we’ve spent time working through these cultural patterns to rewrite personal thought patterns, which more truthfully align with us, then we can CHOOSE differently. We can choose to engage with these opportunities for rest. We can choose to hear the cultural messages, still make the decision to rest, and then feel our discomfort in the moment as we allow ourselves to rewrite a thought pattern. Because trust me, there usually is a feeling of discomfort when we become aware of, and grapple with, these cultural messages.

So here’s my invitation for you…today notice what cultural messages you’ve inherited. Notice how these are working for you (or working against your personal values). And start allowing yourself permission to consider the alternatives.

Here’s a head start. Some common areas where most of us have inherited cultural patterns include: body image, money, work/rest, success, and life stages.

As always, whenever you choose to begin exploring another aspect of yourself please bring your compassion and curiosity along. Feelings of anger, discomfort, and sadness are normal as we unpack these cultural stories. Reflecting upon these thought patterns is challenging a number of parts of our ego self, so gentleness is a helpful ally!


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