In the digital space, there is an ever-increasing conversation around the power of story. It’s been our chosen form of education, communication and inspiration for thousands of years. In fact, it is one of the things that makes us, as the human race, unique, special and different.
Stories are so powerful that they seem to have the capacity to change us without us even realising it. Ever had a moment where a story comes to mind you heard once, triggered by an event that has happened in the present? At the time you heard the story you didn’t think much of it, but your subconscious grabbed a hold of it. There was a lesson in that story that you weren’t even aware you needed or had connected with and in this moment your subconscious has brought it to the surface because right now, that story has a truth you need to hear.
The power of stories lies in the sharing of them. We are changed through the giving and receiving of them and a story becomes more and more ingrained in the mind of the story teller the more it is shared. Sometimes, well let’s be honest, most of the time this leads to a story becoming inflated or embellished for dramatic or comedic affect. Rightly or wrongly, it’s just how it is. It’s probably one of the strengths and weaknesses of stories- the facts can get a little muddled, the lesson can get lost and we end up missing the truth that was at the core of the story to begin with.
When I was 10, I received a merit award for “Outstanding story telling”. It is an award I am still quietly proud of today. Partly because I wonder if my teacher was commenting on my ability to narrate the story ark of whatever tale I was retelling at the time, or if she was commenting on my outstanding ability to embellish the truth a little! (I have a hunch it was the latter)
As a creative individual, engaging in the art of storytelling has been a core part of who I am for my whole life. I love stories. I love how communal they are. I love that we all have a story. I love that we are all constantly constructing a story in every moment of our day and then sharing them so another can learn, change, grow from it. Without realising it, we’re telling stories every day.
We tell stories of our day to our partners, our kids, our friends and ourselves. Every day we are telling stories to ourselves.
This quote by Jordan Belfort has challenged me greatly:
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”
I’m challenged not only because it refers to goals and success, but because it has me wondering
What stories am I telling myself every day that are preventing me from achieving all that I want to achieve in this life?
What lessons am I communicating to myself when I am my only audience member?
There are a lot of things I want in life. Not just a fulfilling career but one that creates lasting change. I want to be married. I want kids. I want to be a leader that truly enables and empowers and rallies. I want to be the best version of myself possible. I want to release the trapped explorer within me. I want to right the wrongs I see. I want to make the world a better, safer place.
And I truly think the truth is that it’s all absolutely possible. I’m blessed (I believe) to have the ability and agency to achieve all of those things.
So why do I feel as though all of it is out of reach?
And I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way, right?
Maybe the better question we need to be asking is not “why” but “what”.
What stories am I telling myself every day?
Are they stories of triumph? Success? Possibility? Real truth?
Or are they stories of inadequacy? Unobtainable? Impossible? Lies?
And if I am the epic embellisher that my 4th Grade teacher implied, what lies am I embellishing? What lies am I starting to believe?
I’m not sure there is an absolute conclusive response to those questions. They seem more rhetorical in nature. What they do rally within me is a desire to get to truth. Because in every story there is truth.
For me this looks like getting back to the Bible and reminding myself of what God says about me, rather than focussing on what I (or others) say about me. I didn’t create me. I’m still discovering stuff about myself, so I can’t possibly know all the truth about who I am. So, I have to go somewhere, or rather to Someone who knows me completely.
When I run the stories I tell myself through the sieve that is His Word, the truth is caught and the lies or embellishments are drained away.
Does He say it’s possible?
Does He say that want is aligned with His will?
Does He say I am valued?
Does He say I have purpose?
Does He say everything works out for my good?
What is God’s story for my life?
I think I might sit awhile with Him and listen to His story, rather than my own…