What Story Are You Telling?
We all have stories that we tell about ourselves; stories that fill others in on what we consider to be the most important details about us, depending upon the situation that we are in. A job interview is the story of our work life; a medical history is the story of our health. We all have specific stories for various situations; we also have THE story. The story is the one that we tell as we are getting to know someone we feel a strong connection with; the one that is about our life as we have lived it to this point in time. This is the story that gives people a road map as to who we experience ourselves to be and how we expect to be treated.
What story are you telling? Is your story one of triumph or tragedy? Do you tell a story that puts you in the role of victim or victor? When you tell your story what response do you most often receive? The thing we need to remember about our stories is that they are exactly that, stories. Things happen to us and we choose to interpret them in one way or another; and that makes all the difference.
You've probably met someone whose life looks to be charmed and yet they are unhappy with the life that they are living. They have taken the events of their life and put them through a filter of dissatisfaction and all the objective facts of luck and privilege matter not at all. Certainly there is the flip side, the person whose life looks like it's been a really hard slog yet who experiences their life as joyful and fulfilling. The difference between the two is the story that each chooses to tell about their life.
Of course we don't tell a story to someone else until we have told it to ourselves. First we have to decide that this event in our life meant this or that thing. What we forget is that things don't, inherently, mean anything. Events have no meaning other than the meaning we assign to them. We decide that something is good, bad, or indifferent based on our circumstances. The same event, happening to someone else, could be experienced very differently to our interpretation. Once we really get that this is so we have enormous freedom to rewrite the story that we tell to ourselves and to the world.
Once we really get this we can look at our lives and separate out fact (what happened) from fiction (our story about what happened). The freedom that comes from doing this is immense. Instead of feeling as though we are at the affect of events we recognize that we can choose how we wish to interpret anything that has and will happen to us. We can take our story and make it one that uplifts and inspires us rather than one that makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning. When I see an interview on TV with someone who has survived some truly difficult event and has come through with his or her spirit intact I marvel at the ability that we humans have to decide how to experience the events of our lives.
So, what story are you telling? Is there an aspect of your life where a rewrite might be a good idea? If so try this technique: tell someone the event that is at the center of your story, just the actual facts; the "This happened, then I said this and he said that" facts of the story. Once you have the facts out there look at them and see what other interpretations of this event are possible.
Trust me, there are as many possible interpretations as there are people on the planet. Once you have come up with a more empowering interpretation, try it on for size. Tell your story from that perspective and notice the change that makes in you, same event but a different story.
Then you get to consciously decide what story you choose to tell about yourself from now on.