Have you ever caught yourself saying things like:
- I had to take that job. It was my only choice.
- She hurt my feelings.
- There was nothing I could do about it.
We all tell stories about what happened and then, in the way we relate it to others – or ourselves – we make it real. Our personal history is created in our story telling. This is why it’s helpful for you to become skilled at storytelling – not only for better communication but to turn around your negative thinking and empower yourself.
Here are 3 steps to building an empowering story for your life. Take a situation from your experience that was painful to you and notice how you tell it.
1. What happened? What role did you play, and how did you see the situation, how did you feel, and what was the challenge or goal?
2. Examine the story as if this was a good friend – not you. What did the main character (you) learn from the experience? As the main character, make yourself the one who is strong and makes choices. Describe how it brought insights, lessons or helped your make different choices. Your story can both reflect and shape who you are. It says what happened, why it is important, what it means for who you are and who you’ll become. This builds your self-concept.
3. Re-tell the story a new way. Try revising your interpretation in a way that enables you to adapt better to challenges and circumstances. This is where the story can be most empowering for you. How might you change the story so it supports your desired goals?
You don’t have to keep your stories to yourself. You might choose to share one with a supportive friend who might give you another perspective. The listener may help you realize that this thing you thought was really bad is actually not a big deal. You may get a richer and fuller memory of what happened, and this can shift your self-concept in a positive direction.