WE all have our stories.
Stories are those events or moments in our lives which we have placed enough significance on to describe that this is how life is, or this is who we are.
These are the ideas or events that we tell ourselves, and re-tell ourselves, over and over. We often tell others.
Sometimes a story may be so important to us that we might want to pull other people in to be part of the story too.
This way, when others participate in the script of the story, it can be proved to be right.
Stories can be very powerful influences on our lives. They can become the focus through which we experience life.
I once witnessed in a restaurant a father and daughter sitting down for a meal.
The girl would have been about six years old. The girl seemed pleased to be with her father, and was happily playing.
The father was hunched and tired looking. As the girl was happily doing her thing, she accidentally knocked her potato chips on to the floor.
The father erupted in response. With raised voice, seething demeanour, and in an avalanche of expletives and life-taking language he told her how stupid and useless she was, how she was always ruining things and how she never got anything right.
The poor girl sunk down into her chair, too overwhelmed to do anything else.
Her wide eyes started to well, but she didn't burst into tears (surely the dream of every parent who has ever screamed at their child to stop crying...).
Her previous happy exuberance was replaced with a tight and small energy, her hands moving slowly and close to her body.
Her breathing was shallow and rapid. The father continued to breathe heavily, his body language intense and almost shivering with anger.
What was the impact on this moment for this girl? The intensity was so great that it seemed to be one of those moments when her life would become defined by this.
If the girl had internalised the message of being stupid and useless, always ruining things and never getting things right, even a bit, what would have been the impact on her?
This could become her story, her narrative that she tells about who she is and the way that life is.
How often do we do this to ourselves, and run with a story about ourselves, unexamined and unquestioned.
Check in with your own story, and challenge it. Sit down and write it out, and what it means, and then totally re-write the meaning.
Yes, I know that would be breaking all the rules of the story, but that is the whole point.
It is only by having the courage to challenge our own story, can life start to take on new meaning. It may even set us free.