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?

One of my lines was “I’m like aged wine, I taste better with time”. Well it may not have been the best line… but it was my line. So what did I want to tell people? I was telling them that the more they get to know me, the better they will like me. I developed this line when I developed my story that I don’t right away attract people to me.

When I arrived in the US for my PhD at Virginia Tech, I had couple of class mates who just seemed to exude such charm, that I felt I couldn’t draw people to me. Of course I failed to factor in that I was from half the world over and I didn’t know the rules of this game within this context. At least not as yet. I could play well in India but I had to yet learn the game of this culture in the West. My lack of acknowledgment of this will be revealed much later to me. For then, I was starting to categorize myself as a wall flower and with limited financial resources, I felt my personality and clothes all lacked what it would take. Nevertheless, I pushed through. And few years later I found myself having long term friendships and wondering “how did this happen?”….aha! it struck me….”I age well with time”. And there a story was born. And now I was living the story I was telling. I was at peace and had a good line. Or at least so I thought. Until I found it limiting and had to reflect on the stories I was telling.

Some stories can be liberating and some can be limiting. What helped me to find peace, was now starting to become a liability. It stopped me from seeing who are the people I clicked with instantly. I didn’t see that the experience of “clicking” is something that happens in the relational space between people and is not just something that is either present or not in any one person.  (And let’s not forget that the way we act in relational spaces are also culturally different).

How to script and perform your story?

So what is your story? Ask yourself. Stories are scripts to 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 favorite line about yourself. ( For instance, I’m a responsible person. I 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 another storyline 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 becomes “I’m a woman who nobody wants to date.” Though not spoken aloud, it silently floats around in your being.

What are you closing off by saying that line? All your attributes. Say your attributes are you are a good storyteller; you are adaptable; you can sing well and you love to go rock climbing. The fact remains, 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 adjust 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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