Rethinking Your Personal Narrative
Have you ever noticed how two people can come from nearly identical situations, but tell completely different stories about their lives? Maybe they both survived a tragedy, but one is a victim and the other is a survivor. Maybe one is wise and uses her experience to help others, while the other hides away in fear. Same situation, different stories.
Maybe there’s no tragedy at all, but the same ordinary day is described very differently. One person’s day is ruined when she sits in heavy traffic. Another person sits in the same traffic, but hardly notices– her mood is so high she doesn’t let it get to her.
The facts of the story don’t matter all that much. They don’t define us. The way we tell our story does. If you don’t like the story you’re telling, change it. You’re allowed to. You don’t need permission. If you feel like you need permission, I’m giving it to you.
Changing your story may not be as easy as changing your shoes, but you can begin to shift your story by changing where you focus your attention. If you don’t like your story, stop telling it. Stop repeating it day after day, giving it new life. Quit feeding the bad stories, for crying out loud.
Changing your story isn’t about lying or ignoring reality. It’s about reframing. It’s about viewing your reality through a different lens and maybe giving it a new spin.
Let’s get started…
If you want to rewrite the story of YOU, here are some questions to kick things off:
- What’s your theme? See if you can boil down all that you value, all that you want, into a single word or phrase. This is the essence of your story. To put it more bluntly, what’s your point? Maybe it’s “adventure” or “love conquers all.” Don’t worry if your theme sounds like a cliche. That just means you’re tapping into something universal.
- What are your central events? The central event is what makes a story a story. It’s the pivotal event that changes everything. What are the moments or events that define you? Remember, we’re telling a different story– the story you want to be telling.
- What are your major dramatic questions? What are the key questions that propel you forward? What answers are you seeking?
- Who are the main characters? Your life is populated with a cast of characters, some playing small roles, others playing big roles. Do you like these characters? Do they help you to be your best self? Do they help create the story you want to tell?
At the end of the day, only you can tell your story and only you can change it.
Two people have suggested to me recently that I should include a photo of myself on the blog. This is a little outside of my comfort zone, but I’m working on shifting my own story. This backyard iphone photo is a far cry from a professional portrait, but, hey, it’s a start. So hi there. This is me.