Get Real: 10 Signs That You're Trying Too Hard to Be

All these -- and more -- are symptoms that you are living according to stories created so early in your life that you have no knowledge of them. You don't know they're calling the shots in your life and making you ill, dissatisfied or prone to magical thinking. These fictions came out of a deep need that everyone has to stay attached to people they love even when those people hurt us, or disappointed us, put us down or abandoned us.

These stories are the most human and natural things in the world. As children, we made them up to explain why the people we loved acted in ways that seemed painful to us. The stories made us feel safe even when the grown-ups in our lives didn't. They provided order; they kept us sane. They stopped us from being utterly overwhelmed by emotions and events in our lives. And the stories stay with us if they aren't exposed and updated. They don't change; they don't update. Sometimes they keep us feeling safe and loved, but more often, they start to break down in adulthood and cause us to act in the ways listed above. That's the one big problem with stories -- they aren't real.

From Becoming Real: Overcoming the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back by Gail Saltz, M.D. Copyright © 2004 by Gail Saltz Klein. Excerpted by permission of Riverhead Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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