Our lives are essentially our stories

No matter what you do in your life, what you create, what career you have…your greatest creation is always going to be your life’s story. Jonathan Harris

All human beings instinctively tell stories – stories help us to understand ourselves, each other and the experiences we have in our lives. We also share stories to entertain and inform.

Everyone we encounter can recount stories of love, loss, laughter, heartache, courage… As C.S. Lewis said: ‘We meet no ordinary people in our lives.’

We tell stories to define ourselves. When we want others to know who we are, we share anecdotes about our backgrounds and families, about our accomplishments in life. We can do this to help others, or to promote ourselves in the best light possible.

Our stories intertwine with those of our families, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Each smaller story weaves into the larger narrative that makes up our world. I believe that by attending to our individual stories we can impact the world in a positive way.

But how much attention do we give to creating our own stories? Or are they dictated by others’ expectations of how we should be living our lives?

Carol Pearson, in What Story Are You Living? says, ‘Your life story is the tale that you repeatedly tell yourself about who you are, what you want, what you can and cannot do.’

Are the stories you tell about yourself tales that allow you to see the potential in your life, or do they limit you? Were you, when growing up, encouraged to be all that you can be, or were you told that life is a certain way and that you have to fit in?

If it’s the latter, I’m guessing you might sometimes feel trapped in a repetitive cycle of drama, disappointment and disillusion. Do you find yourself pointing the finger of blame, constantly complaining that ‘Things would be different if only…’? Or do you distract yourself by getting caught up in other people’s stories, thinking that you know what’s good for your mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter?

If you were the main character in a book, play or film, how do you think your reader or audience would feel about the way your life is going? Would they describe you as inspirational, living a meaningful life – or would they feel disheartened by what they behold?

Brene Brown, in The Gifts of Imperfection, suggests that ‘Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it’. She points out that if we take charge of our story then we decide how it ends.

To put it another way: Freedom begins the moment you realise someone else has been writing your story… it’s time you took the pen from his hand and started writing it yourself (Bill Moyes).

For the first half of my life I wasn’t the one writing my script. Because of that I ended up like Persephone, dragged into a murky, oppressive underworld. I lived through a terrifying psychological thriller that I was lucky to escape. My life story could so easily have been that of the perpetual victim, but I determined not to let that happen.

So if you ever find yourself saying, ‘That’s the story of my life…’ stick with me. I can help you digest your life experiences so that history doesn’t keep repeating itself. I can show you how to be the main character in your own, revolutionised, story, rather than a minor character in someone else’s.

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