When Our Story Conflicts With Reality, Reality Wins

by Michael Simmons on May 7, 2013

Two weeks ago, Sheena, the kids, and I moved from a larger home to a smaller one.

The bottom line is that after two years of a lease-to-own, we did not have enough money to purchase the home.

This process was humbling for me. It had been a big goal. I had told a lot of people that we were going to purchase it.

Near the end of the move, the mover picked up a copy of my book, The Student Success Manifesto, with my face on the cover from one of the moving boxes and asked, “Are you a motivational speaker?”

When he asked me, an unconscious part of me felt like a fraud.

How could I be a motivational speaker and be moving backwards in life?

This situation symbolizes my transformation over the past few months.

The transition is from, “I, and therefore everyone else, is successful when things go well and a failure when they don’t.” to “Life has ebbs & flows, and I appreciate each part as it happens.”

When reality conflicts with our story, the pain generally comes from our attachment to our old story.

We resist reality because we want our story to remain true. We resist reality because it threatens our core identity.

The silver lining is that the death of our identity frees us to accept life as it happens.

We strive for so many goals because of the perceived freedom they will provide. Ironically, ultimate freedom comes from being able to appreciate life as it happens without building our identity on its ebbs & flows.


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I'm the co-founder of Empact, one of the leading entrepreneurship education organizations in the world. I'm obsessed with understanding how we all can lead meaningful lives that have a positive social impact. I love probing into the truth of how we experience life. I believe that challenges are what make us grow the most, and I openly share my experiences. Continue reading…