I love a good story.
When I was a little kid I would build a barricade of books around the perimeter of my bed and hide underneath while my parents argued.
My favorite book was “The Big Book of Fairytales.” It was torn and tattered and I read the same stories over and over again.
For me, other people’s stories were a way to escape.
Now, as a coach, I realize our own personal stories are a way to keep us trapped.
And we all do it in some way or another.
Because as humans we are meaning-making machines. We have an objective experience – like being in a relationship that ends. And then we take that experience and create meaning about it, a story we can tell ourselves.
And because of our propensity to lean towards the negative, (psychologists call this our negativity bias) we make up a story that usually affirms previous stories we’ve been telling ourselves.
“He broke up with me because I’m not loveable.”
“He broke up with me, there are no more good men out there.”
“He broke up me because all men are jerks.”
Take a look at those stories, that create our beliefs. What’s the likelihood that with a set of beliefs like these the person is going to be open to a loving, kind, and compassionate relationship even if it was presented on a silver platter in the future.
Our stories create our world. We often feel trapped, stuck, insecure, angry, and resentful based on our interpretation of events, not the events themselves.
[insert record scratch sound]
What the hell?
I can just hear you out there reading that and thinking, “Deanna, I’m not angry because of some story I made up, I’m angry because of what happened to me.”
Please hear me out. Your emotions are valid, anger is real, you are allowed to feel all of your feelings. And…
Over time, does holding on to your anger serve you?
Do you continue your suffering because of the story you’re telling?
Looking back is there a new way to talk about that experience that puts you in a place of the victor, rather than the victim?
How are you better because of that experience? What did you learn about yourself that you didn’t know before?
You are the author of your stories. Once you realize you have full editorial control you can practice new creative ways to view the experiences of your life.
You can’t change your objective experience, but you can change your interpretation of it – the meaning you give it.
We write these stories so quickly, they become the first draft that we never go back to edit. I know that’s true every time I hear a client say something like, “I never finish projects”, or “I am not a good writer”, or “I’m not good with money”.
They’re dragging these stories from their past, packing them into their metaphorical life back-pack and carrying them into their future; then wondering why they’re struggling with creating the life they want.
These stories which are often given to us by someone else (parents, teachers, friends, media, churches, etc) OR created from limited experiences become our truth.
But we have to become better editors and storytellers of our life because more often than not, our stories need a fact check and a rewrite.
This is so much easier said than done. These stories have been on repeat, they have become part of your identity. You believe them to be true. So, letting go of these stories can make you feel untethered for a bit.
Because who are you without these stories?
And who will you become with a better story?