My story is myself:
and I am my story.
This is all you will know of me:
it is all I will know of you. Christina Baldwin
This quote hits the nail on the head don’t you think? Your life is a story and what you tell is what we know. And perhaps more importantly, the more you deny your story and your life the more it defines you.
Stories are the fabric of life, we thrive on them; they sustained our childhood and are the way we communicate with each other and with ourselves.
Stories have tremendous power to move us and to connect or disconnect us. And who doesn’t love a story with a happy ending? I know I do.
Telling and sharing stories heals us
Telling and sharing stories in a comfortable environment is one of the oldest ways we learn and bond, and when the opportunity arose to tell a story at the 21st century equivalent of this; The Story Party I said yes before I had time to really think about what I was letting myself in for.
So a couple of weeks ago I stood in front of a room full of (mostly) strangers and told a 10 minute story on the theme of dreams, without notes.
I’ve done plenty of presentations and run workshops, I’ve told my story over and over on the web, and all of them were a piece of cake compared to this. Because it was a deeply personal story I felt like I was baring my soul and some of my innermost secrets to people I didn’t know.
And no notes, that was my biggest challenge. I know: it’s my story so I should know it, right? Of course it was my story, but it wasn’t just any old story, it was carefully crafted with crucial points and dramatic pauses.
Of course my gremlins were out in force too, wondering if I’d be ‘good enough’ (whatever that meant) and whether I’d compare favourably to others. Luckily most of the other seven story tellers were as inexperienced and nervous as I was.
What happened when I told my story
The story I told was of finding my light from the dark that I went into by virtue of being childless. I don’t know the ending yet, but for now let’s call it happy.
Telling it was an amazing experience. I remembered everything, the pauses came in the right places and most of all I connected deeply with the audience (there were a few ‘leaky eyes’).
As a result I feel more self-confident, grounded and comfortable in my own skin, and I have a baseline on which to improve my presentation skills.
Several people told me that they recognised my story, they were moved by it or now they understand what it’s like to go through unsuccessful IVF.
If that’s the gift I gave to the audience then I’m very happy.
This wasn’t the story I used to tell
I spent ten years hiding from my story and the truth of my life, denying parts of it, hoping that some way or other it would go away. And surprise, surprise it didn’t!
For all those years I told myself that the sadness would pass and life would get back to normal again sometime (whatever ‘normal’ was), and all that happened was the years passed. This was just a story I was telling myself over and over.
And the more I denied it, the more it defined me. I allowed others to make assumptions about my life and assign meaning to them. Does that sound familiar?
Now I’ve changed the story
Now I’ve changed the story I tell myself and the world. As this quote says ‘I am the only one who can tell the story of my life and say what it means’ and if I can own my story and my life you can too.
Five things I’ve learned from owning my story and my life
I’ve recently been digging into my story with Beverley Glick the ‘Story Archaeologist’ (who knew such people existed, but they do and she’s amazing). This work and my experience over the last two years has taught me that:
- Owning your story puts you in the driving seat of your life,
- When you dig into it you make discoveries more that enable you to reframe what happened,
- Then you can make a new and positive meaning out of what you’ve been through,
- When you tell it you get connection and empathy in return,
- And most of all you get to make a new happy ending
So ask yourself, ‘what’s stopping you from owning your story and your life so that you can write your own happy ending?’
What will you do next?
How did this help you? Please leave a comment (you can use a different name) if it did or if you have any questions.
And if you want to read how others have done this there’s plenty of inspiration in the Inspirational Stories