“Our lives and their pathways are not fixed in stone; instead they are shaped by story. The ways in which we understand and share the stories of our lives therefore make all the difference. If we tell stories that emphasize only desolation, then we become weaker. Alternatively, we can tell our stories in ways that make us stronger, in ways that soothe the losses, in ways that ease the sorrow.” - David Denborough, “Retelling the Stories of Our Lives: Everyday Narrative Therapy To Draw Inspiration and Transform Experience"
We are all suckers for a good story. It’s a defining characteristics of human beings, one that distinguishes us from all other life on this planet: we create & share stories. In fact, the science fiction author Terry Pratchett argues that “The anthropologists got it wrong when they named our species Homo sapiens (‘wise man’)… In reality, we are Pan narrans, the storytelling ape.”
Of all the stories we tell, the most powerful is the one we tell about our own lives. When we experience a major life event, whether a triumph or trauma, it becomes woven into the overarching narrative of our lives. The question is… What is that narrative? What is the story you are telling about your own life? Are you The Hero encountering challenges that will make your stronger & wiser? Or are you The Victim subjected to unjust punishments & cruel twists of fate?
Like most people, I can weave a great sob story about my life.. if I choose to. I can speak of heartbreak & betrayal… the pain of enduring two divorces (first my parent’s, then my own)… the loss of friends… the opportunities I deserved but never received… the frustration of still being single at 34… and on & on & on.
That is my Victim story. And it’s a story I’m no longer telling.
Instead, I’m starting to tell a different story. The one where I decided to move to my dream town & buy my dream house. The one where I left an unfulfilling career and started my own business. The one where I decided to leave situations & relationships where I was treated like a stranger… not the loving, compassionate, creative person I am. The one where I am a child of God, put on this earth for a divine purpose.
The one where I am The Hero of my own story.