When was the last time you told someone the story of your life? We don’t come upon these opportunities often, but when we do, it’s extremely telling not only about our perspective on life, but also about how the rest of our life will unfold! Who said crystal balls don’t exist? Just listen to yourself talk, and you’ll know all there is to know.
What Our Stories Reveal
You’ve heard and told your share of stories, chatting with moms at the kids’ swimming lessons, sitting in the middle seat on a long flight, or in the chair at the beauty salon. People tell their stories, and when they do, it’s a unique opportunity for examination. It isn’t so much what has or hasn’t happened that’s important, but their perception of what’s happened that’s key. That perception reveals core beliefs and determines how life will continue to unfold. Same goes for you!
Knowing this, it seems wise to pay attention to how we tell our own life stories. If we spot our personal sabotage in the story, we can change how we tell it and create a more positive perspective. That’s not saying we should create fiction when we talk about our lives, but just pay attention to the beliefs we hold about what’s happened and what’s possible for us.
Victim or Thriver?
I was surprised to overhear a friend summing up my history with men by saying I had a string a failed relationships and no hope of finding “the one.” Ugh! I was about to disagree with her when I realized it would be very easy to interpret my experience in that light, although I certainly saw it differently. I thought of myself as a lucky girl who had the opportunity to meet, know, and have fun with a wide variety of men and relished the fact that I wasn’t searching for “one” but rather was having fun with “lots!” Both of us spoke the truth from our personal perspective, but I like my version better!
Here’s another example of how easily perspectives can change. Paula is just re-entering the dating scene after her second divorce. As she meets new people, she retells the story of her life. It goes something like: “I was raised Mormon by a mother suffering from depression and a father who was manipulated by his wife throughout their entire marriage. The boys in the family were favored over the girls, and we girls didn’t get much love or attention from anyone. I never felt included or supported.”
Can you imagine the feelings this story creates for Paula each time she tells it? Neglect, lack of love, and resentment are natural by-products of a narrative like this. The truth is just a matter of perspective sometimes.
With a purposeful intention to focus on the positive, Paula’s story could just as easily be: “I was raised in a close-knit community with strong family values, by parents who had little to give, but never gave up doing their best for us kids. They had a houseful of us, and growing up with siblings really enriched my life. I learned a lot from mom and dad about myself and the type of parent and wife I wanted to be.”
From victim mentality to survivor and even to thriver is sometimes just a matter of what reality you present to yourself and others. There’s something good to be found in every experience – and gaining that viewpoint regularly will change the way your path unfolds!
What’s Your Story?
So what story are you telling? Is your mother-in-law interfering in your marriage? Are your genes preventing you from good health? Do you not have enough time in the day to take care of yourself? Does your employer discriminate against people like you?
What story would you rather tell? Believe it or not, it all starts with your story – with what you believe is possible. Tell the story first, or at least stop telling the one that doesn’t work, and THEN your life will reflect new possibilities. And it will be a pleasure to hear your story as a seatmate on your next transatlantic flight!
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