Our life is a story… Actually our life is a storyline.
Our storyline is comprised of the memories (ours and others) we have of experiences and people we have encountered along our journey. Out of this memory we have assembled, and continue to assemble, a personal “Mythos” or believed story about ourselves and our walk in life. It’s a story, and like all good storylines it has to have a protagonist an antagonist, a hero or heroine, and an epic adventure.
We love our story. We are attached to it at a very primal level, giving it up would be like giving up our very existence. How we tell our story and what story we tell to ourselves again and again becomes the essence of who we are, and for nearly all of us either lifts us to a life with meaning, or as Thoreau stated, lead us to a life of quiet desperation, going to our grave with our song still in us.
We move on through life with the standard plot line and, as we move on, we end up type-cast in the particular role we have chosen for ourselves. We hone our story telling, ever keeping the protagonist in the vital role, (hero, victim, prosecutor, enabler, peacemaker, rescuer…) with the antagonists getting larger and more overwhelming with each telling. To increase the drama, life is sure to throw in some plot twists along the way like, being cast out or abused, misunderstood, abandoned, prejudiced and the story begins to really take on a life of its own…in fact it does take on a life of its own. The story and the continuation thereof, become the life, and instead of us being the author of the next chapter, we simply keep replaying and reliving the story that was last season’s hit. Re-read, re-play, click-whir, and just like a washed up Vegas club singer, we get older and less interesting with each performance.
This is not to discount the terrible things that happen to people. Almost all people, at some point in life, run up against a terrible wrong in the form of abuse, abandonment, prejudice, death, dismemberment, the list of bad stuff goes on and on. I’m certainly not devaluing the impact these events have on our lives and our psyche. My experience does show me however, that those who get past those wrongs, or simply decide to create a better live for themselves, have an incredible ability to write and tell and live a very different story. They simply do not allow their past or the “plot-twists” to be the defining factor in their story.
Here are five steps to help you rewrite your story:
- They don’t “just get over it” they re-evaluate, re-focus and re-write.
Ok, I’m a guy, and this is “go to” guy advice (yes ladies, y’all are empowered to use this too). We’ve all been there, we are sick of hearing the story, “just get over it and move on!” we want to scream. The problem with “just getting over it” is our brains are not quite wired to work that way. Those who write another story understand the importance of the journey. They understand that set-backs, no matter how drastic or painful, are only part of the story and like all events in their story, very temporary. They take the time to review what the experience has brought them and consciously work with intention to a future that is not dictated by their past.
- They don’t go it alone.
Successful story writers understand they are not the solo writer of their story. Trusted friends, mentors coaches and therapists all play an important part in working out the journey and moving on in a healthy hopeful progression. Going it alone rarely produces high level results, whether you are writing an exciting chapter of your life like starting a business, planning an education, or if you are recovering from a traumatic set back. As humans we are tribal creatures and relying on others does not make you or your story weak. Trusted human connection produces synaptic connections that simply do not happen when flying solo.
- They don’t continue to tell the “blame” story.
Wrongs, setback, failure, abuse, prejudice all of these things come with plenty of people and circumstanced to lay blame on. Short term, this helps us identify actual or probable causes of said trauma, however, as a long term strategy for our story…it sucks! Blame is a one sided story that type-casts us in the role of victim. Even if there is something to blame, those who move on to another chapter of their story, ultimately seek to understand what was learned and what benefit was brought to their life as a result of the experience.
- Although they certainly remember the past, they don’t stay connected to it.
Presence is the key to your forward moving story. Your mom may have abandoned the family when you were 14 years old, it was painful and terrible to go through put it’s a past scene in your story! Our story is being created NOW in this moment, when we stay connected to events, years gone by, we are choosing to stop writing, stop crating and instead be stuck in an old story.
It’s important to remember, but memories are seen only from our perspective, faulty at best and dim with time. The human brain is designed to either, clear real estate for new thoughts and patterns, or it will try to fill in the gaps of fading memories, often creating a remembered story that has less and less to do with the actual happenings as time passes.
- They dream, visualize and plan their future story.
The future, and the story we associate with it, is influenced deeply by what we create it to be. Science is clear on this today, planning and visualizing an outcome, or our future story, greatly increases the probability of it actually manifesting.
We have two choices, write our story, or let it write us. Do yourself a favor take a pen in hand, (or keyboard as is the modern preference), ask yourself, “what is my personal mythos?” Is the majority of the story based on the past and what others have done to you? Are you living the same old patterns of a past story? Keep writing. Write forward, write the life and the events you wish to create, tell yourself that new story every day, and when that crazy roommate that lives in your head, tries to drag you back, tell em we’re watching a new movie.