What is your story?
What is the story you tell about yourself, your life, your history, your possibilities, your future?
Most of us don’t realize that on a daily basis we tell a story, and it’s a story we write.
This story is the one we tell about who we are as people, about what we are capable of, and about what the world offers or doesn’t offer us.
We take the events, circumstances, and lessons of our life up to this point and craft a story about who we are, what’s possible in our world, and about what is possible for us.
What’s important about these stories
While the events, circumstances, and things you’ve learned in life help build your story, these elements aren’t really the most important aspect of it.
Your story’s most important component is your interpretation, or perspective of those other elements.
It is your interpretation, and the way you value the events, circumstances, and lessons of life, that gives your story power. The meaning you ascribe to those things determines whether that power is positive or negative.
Before going further into the power of your story, it is helpful to really understand what your story is, and part of uncovering it is in seeing the way in which many of us tell our stories.
How to recognize these stories, by seeing how we tell them
Most of the time, we don’t narrate our story in a comprehensive, linear way. Instead, we share it with the world — or just our own subconscious — in fragments and pieces.
We tell parts of the story when circumstances relating to its chapters come up in conversation, or find their way into the circumstances of our lives.
Given the splintered manner in which the story gets told, it can be hard to get a clear picture of its whole, and even recognizing its existence often eludes many people.
Likely, snippets of other people’s stories have crossed your ears at some point though, and while the gravity behind those stories is often hidden behind the short, casual nature in which they are shared, they offer glimpses into people’s bigger stories.
Much of the time, these bits of story contain phrases like:
- “Yeah, that’s just not going to happen for me.”
- “I don’t have… _____ , so I’ll never be able to… _____”
- “_____ …happened to me, so I can’t… _____”
- “I just don’t have the luck.”
- “I won’t find… _____”
- “Because of my personality, I’ll always struggle to… _____”
- “I’ll never be able to… _____”
- “I’m the type of person who… _____”
- “That’s just not me… _____”
- “That possible for other people, not me.”
- “I’m from… _____, and people from… _____ just can’t do… _____”
- “I’m too… _____ (old/young/rich/poor/educated/uneducated/etc) _____ to ever be able to… _____”
- “People like me just don’t… _____”
- “The moment I try to… _____ something always goes wrong.”
- “Everything is always against me.”
- “Because of the way I grew up, I’ll never… _____”
- “I’ve already past the age where I can… _____”
These bits of story touch on a person’s beliefs about who they are, what their traits are, what their abilities are, what their capabilities are, what their limitations are, and what the possibilities are for them in the world and their life.
They give a glimpse into the interpretations and meaning ascribed to the events, circumstances, and lessons in that person’s life.
By seeing many of these pieces of story, a bigger picture and understanding can be formed.
Then by looking at the broader life stories of large groups of people, it becomes clear that the meaning placed on events and circumstances can have a more profound effect on the course of life than the events themselves.
The power of your story
In what sense does your interpretation of life’s circumstances have such a profound effect in life?
In short, the meaning you give to events either limits you or empowers you.
Construed in one direction, the ascribed meaning can:
- close down possibilities
- make you blind to opportunities
- fill you with a doubt that stops you from taking important steps or even start
- weigh you down as you walk your path
Interpreted in an alternate manner, it can:
- open up possibilities
- make you see and even create opportunities
- give you evidence of your inherent strength
- give you willpower to push through even the toughest obstacles
- lighten your load, and give you freedom and energy in every step you take
How can the same event have such drastically different results?
In the video embedded above, I share a retelling of the story of my father-in-law and how he overcame a tough childhood and numerous challenges to achieve the things he strived for and considered to be markers of success in his life.
His story is filled with events and circumstances that were challenging to say the least. What allowed him to reach his destination was the way he put meaning to those events, and how he wrote the story about who he was towards his own benefit.
Deep inside, he told the story that he was capable of doing what he sought, and his deep belief oriented him in a direction that focused him on finding the path to reach his goals.
This orientation is critical since, in essence, what you focus on, you move towards, and what you believe deep inside, you unconsciously work to fulfill. (more on both of these in future articles)
The out-of-control limiter story
When you see events and circumstances as happening to you, as things that have harmed you, and as things that define the boundaries of who you are, you hand control of your life and your happiness to others and the world around you.
At the same time, you inadvertently latch on to those events creating baggage and weight that holds you down, and ropes that tie you back.
When you believe that you can’t achieve something it prevents you from pursuing it whole-heartedly. Subconsciously, you look for reasons that something won’t work, and find excuses to give up since failure seems inevitable any way.
In many ways, it’s like driving on a freeway always looking for an exit to take since you don’t think the freeway will lead anywhere.
As well as driving slower since you are keeping your eyes open for exits, you often end up on the wrong road, headed in a direction you don’t really want to go since you take an exit that isn’t necessary to take.
Furthermore, as a result of getting off your path, you are likely to never reach the great destinations available to you and the journey itself is less pleasant.
The net result is you now have a self-limiting story about who you are, your life, and your world.
(This is related to other self-limiting thoughts and beliefs which will be touched on in future articles)
The control and empowerment story
Comparatively, when you see events and circumstances as happening for you, as things that offer you valuable learning and skills, and as things that give you strength to break through barriers, you take control of your life and your happiness.
Simultaneously, you let go of the negative power of events, offloading any baggage and weight that might hold you down, and cutting the ropes that tie you back.
When you know deep inside that you can achieve something, you pursue it whole-heartedly. Subconsciously, you find way to make things work, and find an exhaustless supply of fuel to power you.
In terms of the example of driving on a freeway, this is like driving in the fast lane. You know where you are going and you know you can get there, so you don’t worry about exits, or about trying to get in the slow lane of traffic in case you need to get off the freeway.
The net result is you now have an empowering story about who you are, your life, and your world. You have a story that lifts you up instead of dragging you down.
Once you understand the power your story has, learning how to uncover and recognize it becomes an important step.
How to uncover your story
Uncovering, recognizing, and understanding your story can be a bit tricky at first since it is often deeply rooted, told on an almost subconscious level, and is wide in scope.
You’ve written and camouflaged your story over the course of a lifetime, so it takes time and dedicated examination to fully unearth.
Recognizing the example phrases shared above, and ones like them will point you towards pieces of your story.
The most powerful tool for seeing your story, and for fully rewriting it, comes from skills you develop practicing mindfulness and meditation.
In terms of identifying your story, mindful awareness allows you to see many of the pieces of your story that manifest in daily life and that might otherwise pass by unnoticed.
In addition to cultivating greater mindfulness, you’ll find it beneficial to set aside dedicated time to uncover your story.
There are many ways to do this, and sometimes a simple mental revisiting of the major events in your life followed by asking yourself how those things may have impacted you is enough to open your story to your conscious awareness.
How to rewrite your story for yourself
You can’t change the events and circumstances of your life.
However, you can change the meaning you give to them and the lessons you take.
Once you know and understand your current limiting story, you can rewrite it so that it tells the story you want it to, so it tells a story that is liberating instead of limiting.
Rewriting your story begins with writing out the main parts of your old story, and examining the way your old story impacted your life up until this point.
From that understanding, the next step is to reorient yourself and your perspective.
Consider and recite to yourself this phrase:
“Life happens for you, not to you.”
Reflect on how life is a gift, and the events and circumstances of it are part of that gift.
Obviously, for very painful, tough, and difficult events and circumstances this can be a challenge. The pay off of finding the benefit and good aspects of even horrific things is worth the effort though.
Finding even the small elements of good that come from the terrible, gives you power over it, and with time it changes the dynamics of your relationship with that incident.
Once, you’ve found how those things happened for you, and how you gained something from their existence, it’s time to write your new story.
Craft it carefully and deliberately so that it reflects the unlimited and untapped power that is inside of you.
Spend time on each piece and refine it so that your new story is both powerful and easy to recall.
Write your new story out. Save it. Read through it.
Make your new story stick
Once your new, empowering story is written, it’s time to make it stick.
The first step in doing that is to throw away your old, limiting story.
Your old story is false and is only baggage at this point. You don’t need it, and don’t want it. Make a conscious effort to throw it out immediately after you craft and review your new, empowering story.
Having trouble believing your old story is false?
Check out some of these examples of well-known and successful people who overcame some incredible obstacles:
- 16 Wildly Successful People Who Overcame Huge Obstacles To Get There
- 19 Successful People Who Had A Rough Time In Their Twenties
- Did You Have A Tough Childhood?
Once you’ve glanced through those, search for additional success stories relating to some of the limiting stories you have about yourself. The evidence that those limitations are false are there, you only need to find it.
After you’ve thrown your old story away, be sure to keep it away. Use mindfulness to be aware of times when bits and pieces of your older story pop up.
Consciously acknowledge that old story, re-iterate how it is false and limiting, and how you’ve replaced it with your new story, and let it go.
Then be sure to repeat your new story to yourself.
In a sense, you’re reorganizing the neural connections in your brain overwriting your old story with your new one.
This can take time and dedicated effort. With persistence though, every small step you make in replacing your old story with your new, empowering one will add up to a big change.
Amplify the power of your new story
Rewriting your story to a new, empowering one, coupled with taking the actions that make it stick will change your life in many positive ways.
This rewriting of your story is even more powerful when you combine it with the steps and processes outlined in “How to find your way in life when you’re lost without a map and a plan”.
Taking your new story and the mindset that life happens for you, not to you, and adding in a plan for your life will have a multiplicative effect.
Each one of these tools works to reinforce the other, and in working through the full set of exercises, you can feel a strong change quickly.
Then when you follow the steps to maintain your new approach, that strong, powerful, positive change will continue to expand and compound.
In all of this, remember, you have far more control and power in life than may be currently apparent.
We all tell a story about who we are, what is possible in our world, and what is possible for us. We craft this story from the events, circumstances, and lessons of our life up to this point. The most important part of this story though, aren’t those details, it’s the interpretation, perspective, and meaning that is ascribed to them.
Learning to recognize and uncover your story is important since it wields enormous power in your life. That power can limit you greatly or empower you greatly.
Once you know your story, you have the ability to rewrite it for yourself, to craft it so it sets you free and unleashes your potential.
There are a number of steps to rewrite your story and ensure it sticks. Be sure to get the accompanying pocket guide for a straight forward approach, then amplify your new story’s power by combining it with “How to find your way in life when you’re lost without a map and a plan”.
Remember that “Life happens for you, not to you.” and you have far more control and power inside of you than you know.
Fellow Journeyer @ BigSkyRise
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