Have you ever been so involved in a story that you just couldn’t wait to hear what happens next? Years ago, when my wife and I first joined Netflix, we got absorbed in the storytelling of the television show Lost. We had never watched the show while it aired and we became hooked from the start by the characters, the events, the surprises, and the mysteries. We would watch several episodes at a time on-demand and even stay up late to see what came next in the story.
It was so compelling. So irresistible. We just couldn’t get enough. Why? Because our lives are all telling stories just like the characters in the stories we enjoy.
So, what story is your life telling? And is that story helping you create a compelling future or holding your greatness hostage? If you want to change your life for the better, then keep reading to discover the power of your personal story!
What story are you telling yourself?
I’m often fascinated when I meet someone new. I love to ask them about their life and how they’ve ended up where they are. If you listen carefully, you’ll notice something very important – how we choose to start the story shapes and determines what story it is that we’re telling.
If I ask someone how they’re doing and they begin by telling me how their day didn’t start well and how their kids never listen to them and how they don’t really like their job…what kind of story am I hearing? The compelling tale of an underdog who overcame adversity or the sad tale of a victim who never challenged their circumstances?
The fact is, we’re all telling ourselves stories every single day that are running our lives. How do you wake up in the morning? Are you a “morning person”? Or are you a “slumbering bear” in the morning who would rather sleep until it’s absolutely necessary to get out of bed? That’s a story you’re living. Are you an “entrepreneur” or a “stay-at-home-mom”? A “business owner” or a an “employee”? A “believer” or a “skeptic”? These labels help to identify the characters we’re playing in our stories.
The actions of a “skinny” person are a whole different than a “fat” one. Why is that? Because stories are tools we use to make ourselves feel something.
How does that make you feel?
Stories keep us in touch with our emotions. Inspiration. Awe. Horror. Love. Bewilderment. Happiness. Liveliness. Courage. Fear. The list could go on…but here’s the point. Our emotions drive our actions. Or, as one of my mentors used to say, “Emotion creates motion.” The emotions we feel on a daily basis are the primary drivers of the things we choose to do.
When we tell ourselves a story that we are an “achiever” then we’ll begin to become that person. We’ll make sure we produce something regularly. We’ll look to go beyond the status quo. We’ll make our performance a high priority. We’ll feel like we’ve been accomplishing things and getting things done. But when we don’t live up to that definition of ourselves, what happens to our emotional state? It goes down…hard. When an “achiever” doesn’t meet a deadline or doesn’t have their list checked off at the end of the day or doesn’t meet their ridiculously high standard of quality on a project, how do they feel? What actions might they take in this emotional state? Do you see how our story shapes our future?
The actions of a person who “never gets sick” are much different from a person who “doesn’t want to get sick”. One character’s actions are fueled by the desire to live free from physical hindrance and the other’s actions are fueled by the fear that something might happen to them at any time that they really don’t want.
So what do we do if we recognize that the story we’re telling ourselves is not helping us get where we want to go and is instead holding us back from our fulfilling future? We change it.
Change your story, change your life
Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and thought, “Man, I wish that character would have changed the way they were behaving. They really could’ve rescued the story from that unhappy ending”? Well, I never want that to be said about you!
So, if you don’t like the story your life is telling – change it!
I’m not asking you to rewrite your history, I’m asking you to change the direction of your future. Embrace your struggle. Honor the people and places that made you who you are. Then decide if the story you’ve been telling is ready for some character development. Where do you want this character to go? What do you want them to do, see, and experience? Who do you want them to meet? How do you want them to be remembered when their story ends?
It’s time to take charge of your destiny by writing your next chapter. It’s going to take courage to overcome the fear of letting go of the certainty you have right now – after all, you know exactly how this feels and how it looks. But if you can summon the bravery to turn the page and begin writing the next chapter, then you’ll see your life change in ways that you’ve never even thought of before!
Today, decide that your story is changing. Decide that your life will read more like a triumph than a tragedy. Begin to tell yourself a story of empowerment, wisdom, and victory. When you change your story you’ll change your emotional state. And when you change your emotional state you’ll alter the strategies you’ve been using to take action.
So, do you want to keep living a story that goes nowhere? Or do you want to start living a story that compels you to keep turning the pages, anticipating what’s next? One decision changes your life for the better and the other never will. It’s your choice.
Declare your intention today by using the comments section below to tell the world you’re ready for change!
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