Human beings are storytellers and how we describe our lives and weave the pieces and parts together is a reflection of our outlooks and becomes part of the fabric of our personalities. The personal stories we tell not only paint a picture of our past, they color the life we are living today.
“In telling the story of how you became who you are, and of who you’re on your way to becoming, the story itself becomes a part of who you are. . . . a person’s life story is not a Wikipedia biography of the facts and events of a life, but rather the way a person integrates those facts and events internally—picks them apart and weaves them back together to make meaning.” The Atlantic, Julie Beck,
Finding meaning in life’s ups and downs is one of the aspects of life that researchers believe is related to longevity. The more meaning you find along the way, the better able you are to “wobble” or bounce back after adversity, and perhaps the longer and happier life you live. (For a great story and insights about longevity, click here.)
Growing-up most, if not all of us, engage in “autobiographical reasoning”. We link circumstances and outcomes, we ascribe meaning to events, comments and the behaviors and actions of others. We then create stories about who said what and why, or how and why things happened. Some of those stories are good, but others lead us down darker roads: “Mom always liked Sharon best, no doubt she will prefer her kids over mine.”
We then tell these stories so often (to ourselves and to others) that they become part of our world view and may even begin directing our actions. I’ve learned to gently examine the stories I create, and I am much better at not predicting negative endings. There truly is no comfort or value in being right about something negative.
Sad and bad things happen, no doubt about it, but when we consistently create stories that give top-billing to blame and pain, we do a disservice to ourselves and all the folks we tell our stories to. I truly believe simply saying “I am scared.” or “I am sad.” is much better for our souls and psyche and will help us wobble our way through life.
Your perspective is truly one of the most important parts of your story, and yes, at times creating new or rewriting old stories may be scary and lonely, but the pay-off might just be a longer, healthier and happier life.