What’s your story?
I know you have one. Everyone does.
Here’s something else I know: Your story is based on the past.
How do I know that? Most people base their stories on something negative that happened to them previously. They carry that story forward—telling it over and over again to others or to themselves—and it become their identity.
That’s why you need a new story.
Your Story = Your Identity
Your story becomes your identity.
For instance, if you were bullied as a child, you may think of yourself as a person who is weak and gets picked on—and may even exhibit this in your behavior.
If you were abused as a child, you might think of yourself as a victim. This could make it difficult for you to take responsibility for your actions, which miht cause you to blame others when misfortune hits.
Many years ago, I went out to New Mexico for a week-long course taught by the late Stuart Wilde called “Warrior’s Wisdom.” The attendees—including me—completed a rope courses that included repelling, a fire walk, trust exercises, and sitting alone at night in the woods for hours.
At the end of the course, I asked Stuart if he would let me buy him a beer and interview him. He agreed, and I remember to this day, something he said:
Imagine that you fell out of a tree when you were five and broke your leg. Now you limp. Your story—your identity—is, “I’m the person who limps. I’m the gimp. I’m the limper. I’m the person who is handicapped. There’s something wrong with me. And it’s all because I fell out of that tree when I was a child.”
What does that have to do with today, and who you are today? What difference does that experience—that story—make in your life today?
Great question! Let’s explore the answer.
Your Past Defines You Today
Indeed, your past made you who you are today, but not in a way you think.
We think our negative past experiences make us who we are, and they do. They make us better.
Let me explain.
Instead of focusing on how past events affected you in negative ways, focus on how they made you a better person.
You are who you are not because of your past but in spite of your past.
Put your attention on the part of your story that made you a better person. Change the angle of your personal tale.
In Stuart’s example, if you do this you’re not the person who limps or the gimp or who struggles to walk. You are the person who:
- goes where they want to go by the strength of your will and body.
- has gotten over the self-image issues that go with limping.
- does not see yourself as handicapped.
- says, “I don’t care what anyone thinks. I get around just fine.”
- says, “That leg has nothing to do with my abilities or my skills.”
- affirms, “I am not my body. I am not my limp.”
You are that person. That is your story—or can be.
Let’s look at another example. If you were abused as a child or in a marriage or relationship, “victim” does not have to become your story. Yes, that happened to you—it’s undeniable. But because of that experience you are a person who:
- stands up for yourself
- takes responsibility for your action
- speaks your truth
- is an advocate for women’s rights
- calls men out on behavior that does not respect women
That’s your story—your new story.
Why? Because your past made you who you are today—in a good way.
Choose a New Story
My father died when I was seven…a huge loss. I can tell a story of loss, and I have done so many times. Here it is:
My father died when I was seven, and now men leave me. My seven-year-old mind didn’t quite get that my dad died. And there must have been something wrong with me because he chose to leave. And now men leave me, people leave me, my friends leave me.
Every time I told that story, it defined me. I’m that girl that people leave.
Today, I tell a different story. It a new story with a new angle.
My father’s death taught me to be okay on my own—alone. It taught me to be there for my friends and my family–not to leave them, to stick it out in a relationship, and to try to make it work. It taught me to pick up the pieces when things go wrong, there’s an emergency, or everything falls apart, and put it back together again—and make it stronger in the process. And it taught me that leaving is hard—but okay—and it’s best to complete relationships before you end them.
That’s my story now…and I’m sticking to it. It’s a better story.
I choose what story to tell about who I am now. I choose how my past defines me.
And you can, too.
What’s Your Story?
What’s your story? Can you tell a better one? Can you choose the story that defines you?
Of course, you can.
Tell a new story that says, “This was my past, but it made me who I am today. And who I am today is pretty damn great. If it hadn’t been for those experiences in my past, I would not be the person I am today.”
Feel grateful for your past experiences. Choose how they define you. Choose your story.
Think about the story you’ve told in the past and the story you want to tell going forward. Doing so will change your view of yourself and the way others see you as well.
Additionally, your new story will change your results.
The story you choose to tell can rock your world—or devastate it.
To create inspired results, choose a s powerful story that inspires you and gives you strength. That’s how you’ll achieve the inspired results you desire.