We Live the Stories We Tell

How often do you tell yourself or your friends “this is who I am“?

Who are you? What do you tell yourself and others?

At one time, one of my lines was I’m like aged wine, I taste better with time.

Okay, it may not have been the best line… but it was my line. So what did I want to live into through that story? I wanted to live into the idea that the more people got to know me, the better they would like me. I developed this line alongside my story that I didn’t right away attract people to me.

When I arrived in the US for my PhD at Virginia Tech, I had a couple of classmates who just seemed to exude charm. In comparison, I felt I couldn’t draw people to me. Of course, I failed to factor in that I was from halfway around the world and I didn’t know the rules of the game within this context. At least not initially. I could play well in India, but I had to yet learn the cultural game in the West. My lack of acknowledgment of this was revealed much later to me.

So, I started to categorize myself as a wallflower and as a person with limited financial resources. I felt my personality and clothes all lacked what it would take to create connection with people. Nevertheless, I pushed through. A few years later, I found myself having long-term friendships and wondering how did this happen? Ah-hah! It struck me….I age well with time. And so, another story was born and I lived into the next story I was telling. I was at peace and had a good line to help tell my story, until I grew and changed further. Eventually, I found this line limiting and again had to reflect on the stories I was telling.

Some stories can be liberating and some can limit us. A line that, for a time, helped me to find peace, eventually started to become a liability. It stopped me from taking notice of the people I clicked with instantly. I was failing to see that the experience of “clicking” is something that happens in the relational space between people versus something that is either present or absent in any one person. And let’s not forget that the way we act in relational spaces is also varies culturally.

How to script and perform your story?

So what is your story? Ask yourself. Stories are scripts which we perform. Some are spoken and others are fantasies we never speak out but desire deeply. Learn and engage with your stories using these three simple ideas:

  1. Observe: Notice what is your line about yourself. For instance: I’m a responsible person. I always have to be the strong one. If only people knew how little I know. I’m never going to get rid of this pain. I am a writer. I am not a good writer. I have never liked [fill in the blank] and never will.
  2. Reflect: Ask yourself by using this line what am I closing off in my story? And what am I creating?
  3. Play: Craft another story line and discover what you create or open up in your life.

For instance, let’s say you are dating and have not found yourself in the success zone and your favorite line about yourself has become I’m a woman who doesn’t do well in the dating game. Though not spoken aloud, it silently floats around in your being.

What are you closing off by saying that line? It closes off all your attributes. Instead, list them. You are you are a good storyteller; you are adaptable; you can sing well and you love to go rock climbing. You have not gone on a date that you term successful, but it doesn’t change the fact that you are a woman who tells interesting stories, or that you can sing well, or you adapt well, or love the outdoors. So, how would things be different if you started to tell yourself I want to go on a date with a person who loves rock climbing. A much simpler version and more action-oriented storyline.

Play with it.

Live with it.

Catch yourself changing your storyline and see what you create!

What is your one-line story?

Add your voice and share your story….

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