What’s Your Story?
While visiting of my contractor teams in Kandahar this past week, I heard an interesting comment from one member to another discussing some aspect of the work. He said, “It’s your story. Tell it how you like it.” We all laughed. But what a well-spoken truth!
This statement got me thinking about our “stories”. We all have stories. We especially love a good story and the more dramatic, the better. Often we are not consciously aware that we are always creating and telling stories about our life experience and who we are. We tell these stories to ourselves and to others in our daily lives. Yet, we are usually not aware of the impact our stories have on our current state of mind. In reality, everything is a just a story we create based on how we perceive ourselves and our experience. The stories we create for the past, present and future determine our mental, emotional, and physical states and have huge impact on our lives and relationships.
I have a friend in Atlanta who is a metal sculpturer and artist by trade. She creates magical shapes of metals, jewelry, and beautiful paintings. She recently created an artistic presentation wherein she took a significant event from her past and created a fairy tale story about it through paintings and words. This work transformed the past event into a new story featuring strength, love, overcoming obstacles and breakthroughs. It also brought new insights and perspectives that led to healing and forward movement for her. New glorious power came to her from simply changing the way she told her story!
This is what happens. An event transpires that creates a strong emotional experience. In an attempt to understand and process the event, we assign significance to its impact on us and determine the roles of others involved. We determine whether we are a victim or hero/heroine. We may create and designate other victims, heroes or heroines, princes or princesses, monsters and demons, friends, allies, and enemies. We take special care to create the moral or lesson of the story and what it means to us. We quickly start to tell ourselves this story over and over and then share it others.
The more we tell the story, the stronger and more “true” it becomes, validating every character, every role, every event, and every moral. Our Ego so strongly identifies with the story that it becomes a part of who we are. We can’t imagine not having a particular story to tell. We give the story an immense amount of power and it quickly drives reasons why we are the way we are, why we can’t do this or that, be this or that, or have this or that. After all, the story is true! We just can’t help it, we tell ourselves. We now have a story to live up to. And so the story becomes a powerful reason, justification, excuse or “truth” why things are the way they are and relieves us of any urgency to take responsibility or action to move out of the story or make things different. We feel pride in our story and love to tell it to whoever listens, even if it doesn’t make us feel good. “Oh here’s my story: My parents divorced and…. I lost my job and…. My ex left me and…. I got bullied in school and…. I really screwed up and…. I failed a test and…. I got rejected and…. I’ve suffered losses, hurts and pains and…. My parents didn’t treat me a certain way and…..”
Creating and re-telling our stories is healthy and wonderful when the emotions experienced are happy and support good feelings about ourselves, others and life events. These good feelings inspire living courageously and joyfully, encouraging us to be our true selves. When the emotions are negative, painful, shameful, or depressing, however, the stories damage our self-worth, self-love, and self-esteem. Negative stories steal our courage and inspiration, leaving us stuck in unhealthy emotional and relationship patterns that seem endless and repeat over and over again. How can we change these negative stories that seem to have a destructive power over our lives?
We have the power! We can change our stories and their meaning. The secret is that our stories are only what we decide they are. We created the original story because we needed to survive, understand, and process. In the present now moment, however, the story no longer serves us in healthy way. Now it only keeps us down, depressed, and feeling powerless. We don’t have to remain the victim in our story, unless we choose to. We can change the story and create a new one, right now, today. Changing our story does not put us in denial about hurtful or painful experiences. On the contrary, by deliberately changing our story and looking at it with fresh insight and perspective, we take our personal power back and recognize the value of the experience within the bigger picture of life. Changing the story opens the door to forgiveness, new perspectives, and healing insights that lead to peace and positive change.
Do you feel like a victim in one of your stories? Imagine for a moment viewing the hero or heroine instead. Heroes and heroines overcome, adapt, and come out on top. Can you change your story so you “slay the dragon” instead of ending up a victim? There is a gift in the moral of our story if by sharing it we move forward and encourage others in similar circumstances.
Action Step: Take charge of your life and change your stories now. You don’t have to live or tell a defeating story one moment longer. A great sense of freedom comes when your old story melts away and gives rise to a new one that uplifts, encourages, and moves you forward in a new direction you never imagined before. Listen closely when you are hearing the old stories with their reasons of why you can’t, won’t, couldn’t or shouldn’t be, do, or have something that deep down you really want and desire. Catch yourself telling yourself or someone an “old story” that creates low or negative emotional energy for you. Stop and choose not to share it anymore. Take immediate control of the story and “rewrite” it. Make it a powerful story that makes you the hero or heroine instead of a powerless victim to circumstance or the actions of others. If you need help dealing with an old story, get it. Create a fun fairy tale and add humor to shift easily and happily into a different, new story of power with a moral that teaches you a valuable lesson and gives you a gift to share with others. Create new stories about your past, present and future in every area of your life including your physical and mental health, personality characteristics, relationships, careers, hobbies, social life, financial matters, and more. Your book of stories is filled with unlimited possibilities only you can write and create.
Affirmation: I am aware of my stories. I choose to stop telling stories to myself and others that don’t feel good or serve me. I choose to recreate and rewrite events of my past in new ways that uplift, encourage, and teach me valuable lessons that bless my life and move me forward with power, encouragement, and freedom. I am led to those that can help me rewrite my stories if I need help. I am the creator of my own story, the director of my own play, and the Star of my life. It’s time I took charge of all of it and decide the kind of stories I want to create for my past, present and future.