Tuesday, December 29, 2015

3 Lessons From The Stories That Fuel My Life

As we wind down 2015, it occurs to me that our stories are really all that matter.

The story we believe is the story we live.

When was the last time you stopped to look at the story playing in your own mind?

2015 has been a year of transforming stories in my life so I've spent a great part of this year really looking closely at all the story lines in my life.

My personal story.

My marriage story.

My family story - the family of origin and the family I've built.

My business story.

My "place in the world" story.

All these stories intersect and lay out my actions and behaviors that align with what I believe about each of them. When I've stopped and really examined a story, I've learned something new. This year in particular, I've needed stories to propel me forward through some tough times and it was in this place that I got some new revelations about the stories fueling my life. Here are the three things I learned about my stories this year.

Every Story Needs Air

More than any other time in my life, I realized the unintended consequences of not facing a story that lies beneath the surface. As a communicator and storyteller by trade, I was sure I was adept at mining out and telling "the story." Immediately upon seeking help to manage my oversized life this year, I learned that a few stories I told myself and consequently lived were false narratives. It was only in the light of day and actually verbalizing them was I able to snuff them out and live authentically in what I truly believed. When we suppress a story, it does not die. I'd argue that depending on the content of the story, it may actually grow and grow in ways that are harmful to its owner if not properly attended. Give your stories air so you can weed out the ones you want and need versus that ones you need to let go. Further, you never know who needs your story - sometimes stories need air, not for us but for others.

Stories Change As You Do

Three weeks ago, while telling one of my longest held stories to a friend, he debunked it in one text sentence. I just paused this post to look at the text again and seeing it written in black and white still stops me in my tracks. He was right and that revelation has completely changed my view of myself  - with one 8 word text. My story changed. Perhaps years ago but I never noticed or bothered to change the narrative in my head. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that deep down, I knew the story had changed but I never seized on the change to bring it to action. I am a different person from when that story was created. Even as I grew over time and repeated it, I often did it with a tone of disdain or sarcasm yet I held on to the story in its original form. Until I let it go.

Some Stories Need Releasing To Make Space For New Ones

And let go I did. I have not repeated that story again in it's original form since that day. I can already feel a new story around that topic forming. Stories occupy space and energy. Think about it. If we keep stories that have expired or lost their usefulness, we don't have room for new stories to build us and serve us now. This is a hard but necessary lesson I am learning now in earnest. As I close one chapter of my life and start to build a new one, I am releasing stories daily. It is not fun. It is quite painful and there are lots of tears in my eyes these days. But with each story released, I can see a new story forming. The energy we spend holding on to stories that no longer serve us snuff out the opportunities that await us on the other side of them. Release a long held story today and watch a new one form.

So what stories do you need to give air to this day? How will your allow your story to change as you have? What stories need releasing to make space for new ones?

There is no better time than the beginning of a new year to take a good inventory of the stories you believe and live by. Stop and do that today.

Your stories fuel your life. Decide today what life you want.

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