This post is dedicated to our stories - the ones we tell, and the ones we don’t.
Stories give life meaning. They give us a lens to view the world. They connect us to ideas, to people, and to higher powers. They provide a framework to understand, share and make sense of our experiences, cultures, and histories. They invigorate us, comfort us, teach us, compel us, contain us, and give us context to create.
Stories are powerful for two reasons - first, we believe them, and secondly, because we believe them we create from them. The stories we tell shape our reality. They are the floor we stand on and the ceiling we rise to. They are the walls of the house we live in - a shelter and a prison. For better or worse, whether true or false, stories help us understand who we are, where we come from, where we belong, and where we are going. The word identity comes from the Latin word for ‘same’. Our stories, like our identities, are the container that bind the threads of ‘sameness.’ The experiences that don’t fit the container of sameness are excluded from the telling and mostly forgotten. Those forgotten experiences though, reveal a measure of truth that sameness blinds us too. When we begin to remember and speak to the forgotten moments, like for example during the #MeToo movement, we face an important decision – adapt the narrative of our story to include what’s been forgotten or ignore it.
Ignorance can be bliss, but it can also lead to death because the truth of a story lives not only in what it tells the world, but also in what it hides from the world. A story like a person or a relationship needs to evolve to survive. A stagnant story is delusional and dangerous. So we must look deeply at our stories – what they hold, and what they hide. We must dismantle and deconstruct the parts that no longer serve us. We must retell our stories in light of what’s long been hidden or misunderstood.
It’s scary to reveal what’s imperfect about our most beloved tales because we spend so much time, energy and money constructing, maintaining and protecting them. Our image and reputation are caught up in them. So how do we cope when confronted with the seeming death of the stories that we hold most dear? Stories like the American dream, college, equality, marriage, success, religion? What do we do when we begin to see the fault in the fairy tales that formed us, the dreams that gave us the means to survive?
We grieve. We mourn. We accept the loss, we thank the story for what it gave us, what it taught us, how it held us, and saved us. We grieve it, and we say good-bye. We let it go, and in the space that remains, we expand. We tell a new story, a better story, a more complete, honest and beautiful story.
I encourage you to look deeply at the stories you tell yourself. What do those stories hold and what do they hide? What do they make possible, and what do they prevent?
Discover Within, Expand Beyond,