What’s your story?

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Stories fascinate me. I love to read them, watch them and listen to people tell me their stories. A little while ago, I realised that stories abound in many forms. The news broadcast, and the newspapers (for those who still buy them) contain stories of the day. Songs tell stories. When I tell a joke, my narrative involves a beginning, middle and an end. Secrets are stories. Books and movies are only ever about entertainment and a story. Sharing my day requires storytelling. Even when I am ‘on my soapbox’, protesting something, I am telling you a story.

stories are the building blocks of connection between you and the rest of the world.

I use stories to inspire laughter, tears, outrage, or any number of responses. For me, stories are the building blocks of connection between me and the rest of the world. I love stories.

But there is a sinister element to story-telling, something I learned a few years ago. I’m not talking about horror stories. In hindsight, I have told myself many horror stories. I didn’t realise I was doing that. I mean, why would I want to scare myself like that? The most obvious answer is that I don’t.

I’m referring to the stories I have been telling myself. Those are the sneakiest stories, almost like secrets, I wouldn’t share with anyone else.

I tell them over and over, until they become fact. To me.  I am talking about those times where events (major and minor) create an emotional reaction. One example comes to mind. To the rest of the world, it looked like my lover forgot our date. But to me, that event created an emotional reaction. From that event, and my reaction, I learned never to rely on another person.

So, the story I told myself perpetuated my need to be independent. I know now that story only forced people away from me. It was years before I recognised what I was telling myself. Of course, I felt disappointed with my lover. But, I could have affirmed that people are human and can be forgetful. That is a much better story for me to tell myself. Instead, I nursed that hurt until it destroyed my relationship.

The story kept repeating until I wondered why I found it so hard to trust anyone. No surprise, when I believed that I couldn’t depend on anyone other than myself. I eventually changed that story and grew to understand interdependence.

Our secret stories affirm life or use old hurts to guide our current behaviour. What stories do you tell yourself? Do you whisper stories of conquerors and adventurers to yourself? Or do you tell yourself to remain small so you can stay safe? Either works depending on what you want from your life.

Stories really do have the power to inspire or terrorise. What’s your story?