If you want to build a better life, start building better stories.
We all tell ourselves stories. It’s how we make up for what we don’t know. We imagine the story to create a context that ends up driving an outcome. The problem with the stories we create is they are self-fabricated fiction that we treat as a fact.
Now not all fiction is bad. If we create a story that supports us, rock on! However, have you noticed we tend to make up stories that don’t serve us, hold us back, make us self-righteous or worse, a victim of our own creation?
These are the stories that prevent us from living our best lives. These are the stories we must write the final chapter and create better stories.
One of my favorite quotes from Wayne Dyer sums it up: “Change your story, change your life.” I think I would add:
Change your story, Change your quality of life.
I recently watched an episode of the SEAL Team. I’m a HUGE David Boreanaz fan. He plays the role of the team leader for an elite Navy Seal team that, over the years, suffered the loss of lives of many of his teammates. In the storyline, he carried the burden of their deaths, blamed himself and imagined they’d be disappointed in him, angry at him and blame him for their deaths.
This was the story he created which resulted in a heavy weight on his shoulders that was taking a toll on both his health and career while destroying his relationships.
The storyline took him on an hallucinogenic experience that connected him with the men he lost. Without exception, the men told him they died on their own terms. They chose to put their lives at risk for their country and they went out doing what they love, proud to serve. No one blamed him or was angry with him and he was wasting his life carrying a burden that wasn’t his to carry.
They flipped his story and gave him a better one to focus on. A healthier story. An empowered story – one that no longer had him starring in the role of victim of his own making.
This is a brilliant representation of the impact our self-created, fictional stories have on our lives, our health, our relationships, our careers, our psyche, our vision of life.
If your made up story has you playing the role of a victim or self-righteous bystander, or wronged party, or fill-in-the-blank (and be honest!), change the story so you are the champion, the victor, the avenger, the hero, the good friend, the understanding neighbor, the patient parent, the dedicated employee, the open-minded leader.
Get creative and write your new story, an empowered story, that serves your life and those around you.
Stop imagining the worst and project the best.
I mean, after all – these are stories!! Create something you’ll enjoy and stop suffering.
The next time that car cuts you off in traffic, rather than get annoyed, try imagining a parent frantically trying to get home to a sick child/parent/someone in need and send a kind-hearted thought or blessing instead.
Instead of telling yourself you are stupid and you’ll never get it right, remind yourself you are a work in progress and every effort is getting you closer to the desired outcome.
When you face a failure, replace the shame game with a victorious discovery of what didn’t work so you can excitedly try what’s next.
For bonus points, if possible, rather than jumping to a conclusion, try asking questions to get to a real answer and avoid the story altogether.
For good measure, strike a Superman/Superwoman pose in the process!!
It all comes down to being the cause of your life rather than at the effect of circumstances and poorly crafted stories.
Be intentional. Create award-winning stories that are supportive and empowering and watch your life (and its quality) follow suit.
What empowered story will you create for yourself? Share in the comments below.