What’s your story? You will have one, we all do.
I’ve heard many stories; sometimes I’m the listener to an individual sharing their ‘story’ for the very first time.
And some have been horrendous in content: full encyclopedias of fear, loneliness, addictions, pain, vulnerabilities, sadness, lack, hopelessness, and worthlessness.
And some stories, I can’t help with, I’m not experienced or the best person to help with the re-write.
For some it could be the 100th time they have ‘told’ their story, but the first time it has been listened to, believed, acknowledged and understood.
When coaching, it’s my role to listen first, and then help a person to unravel the structure, the content and the plot so that, should they want to, they could close the pages on that particular story and begin another, safely knowing that those chapters are purely there for reference only.
At other times, I can hear the same story repeated over and over again, just in case I didn’t get the ‘plot’ the first time.
You see, some people are extremely attached to their personal stories, they have the telling of it so well crafted, they hold onto so tightly because to give it up, they may be frightened they may have nothing else to write.
It’s because of this chapter I am who I am today.
It’s because of these characters I can no longer (fill in the blank).
It’s because of this ‘baddie’ or that ‘ogre’ that I’m unable to move forward.
It’s because of this ‘speech’ someone once gave me, I lack confidence.
It’s because of this plot, I couldn’t possible attempt what I need to do.
Stories are extremely powerful, including personal stories: when shared they can inspire, influence, persuade, make meaning where there was once confusion, and inform.
They can create order out of chaos, can challenge your way of thinking, your beliefs and your assumptions of your world and how you ‘see’ it.
Our brains can’t remember every detail of our life, so it makes sense that we can chunk our lives up into various chapters, doesn’t it?
Sadly for some, they come to rely on their stories so much, they can’t move their ‘work of creative genius’ (their life) forward – their story has become a ‘Dictionary of Excuses’.
And for some they can’t complete the story because the pain is so great. There are blanks.
There is nothing wrong with having a great (life) story, the more hurdles overcome and barriers broken down the better.
Do you have the need to repeat, share and divulge your story in the hope that someone will understand you a little better?
“Please hear my story, when you hear it, you’ll understand why I am the way that I am? I have deep secrets, that in order to really know me, I have to tell you them. I know you won’t accept me, unless you can hear where I’ve been, know what I’ve seen, and I’ve shared what I’ve felt.”
Do you consistently refer to your past story?
Some of the repeated stories I’ve hear often are: the ‘Blame Story’, ‘Failures of the Past Story’ or the ‘Fear of Action Story’ is popular, quite eye opening is the ‘All Men are Bastards Story’ or the sequel ‘My Girlfriend is Two Timing Cheat Story’, ‘No Education Story’, ‘No Good Enough Story’ or ‘Bad Relationships Story’ , I could go on forever.
They were all fabulous stories. But that is all they are, just stories. They matter, of course they do. The great stories are the ‘fear’, ‘victim’ and ‘sabotaging’ stories: our brains love a great survival story, but their impact doesn’t last. Eventually these stories, after being heard once have no relevance or impact.
As a trainer and teller of stories, the most remembered stories are those that offer hope, solutions, alternatives, a hero’s ending or the opportunity for personal growth.
Have you heard a story that has touched you? You can still recall it’s telling, the meaning, the moral and how it made you feel? Perhaps at difficult times in your life you can instantly remember it, and it offers you calm and clarity? Maybe you share it with others? It can be a story someone tells you, a quote, a film, a poem.
Okay, what about you? Is there a story or chapter in your life that needs to move to the out of print section? Is there a story that you are keeping alive, that no longer needs to be told? Are you using past stories as excuses today?
Are you holding onto a plot that is obsolete? That no one reads any more apart from you? Do you want to let go of a story that no longer needs to be part of your identity? Do you need to rework your story now?
Have you ever written your story down?
Isn’t funny when the ‘s**t is hitting the fan’ many of us say ‘oh, one day I’ll write a book about this’.
So write it, even if it is just a chapter in length. I can hear you, ‘I’m not a writer!‘ This isn’t an exercise in penning the next Booker Prize winner or writing your 800 page memoir, it’s just a little exercise in reframing:
To coach and empower yourself, are you able to write it this way…
Are you able to write it from a ‘hero’s’ perspective?
Are you able to take all the characters, the plot and turn it into a story of hope? Smaller stories, that if you shared them, yours would be the story that another remembers, for years after you shared it?
To get started here’s the writing secret:
Here’s your opening line ‘Once upon a time…’ (Why start with that? Because it starts to reframe the time, your story becomes past tense)
“Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.” Salman Rushdie
Photo Credits: Paul
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