In childhood most of us heard stories that enchanted and enhanced our lives. They often taught us values and morals, offered images of heroism and adventure, and sometimes even scared us. As adults we continue to tell ourselves, and others, stories. Instead of fiction, they are based in facts and events that once traumatized us and, in the retelling, traumatize us again.
If we are to be respected leaders for our own life and in the lives of others, we have a responsibility to jettison time-worn stories on which we depend to garner sympathy, justify reactions, and explain behaviors. Such stories may be entertaining at first, but they get old really quickly, especially when repeated. We may cloak self-criticism in self-deprecating humor which is laughable to many, but it also can be a way we tell others that we ’re to be pitied.
When we tell our victim-stories several things happen:
First, we stress out our bodies, minds, and spirits. Victim stories that get repeated call in to the present events of the past. Our bodies remember these traumas and react by dumping stress hormones into our systems. These chemicals may be great in actual fight or flight mode. But when we’re not fearing for our lives, they can cut off rational thought and stress out our organ systems if they are not really needed.
Second, we deepen our resentments. Stories wherein we were wronged, hurt, ignored, or passed-over sometimes get magnified and deepen our resentment and anger toward those who “wronged” us. We use this resentment to protect us from future harm, but instead it usually just grieves our spirits and keeps us from taking positive action on our own behalf.
Third, we justify ourselves. Old stories are meant to tell others why our lives have turned out a certain way. We forget that we’re still a work in progress and the final outcome has yet to be determined. Yet we use our dysfunctional families, abuses, economics, and lack of educational or employment opportunities to short circuit our lives as if we had no choice as to actions that will brighten our future.
Our pasts are not meant to be opportunities for an adrenaline rush, for feeling self-righteous, or as walls to protect our tender spirits. Stories of our past are guaranteed to do just one thing: make our lives go around in an endless loop of misery.
How about reframing our pasts as lessons learned about ourselves and the responsibility we ought to take for however we contributed to the past? What would it be like to create new stories about who we are today, what our gifts are and how they manifest themselves to others? Imagine the kind of respected leader we can be if we focus on the present moment?
Try this on for size: Believe that you are a wise, intuitive sage, someone with great experience and knowledge, a person with insight into human behavior, and a spiritual being with deep connections to the universe. Might this be the real you whom others see, but that you cannot, because your old stories are clouding your vision?
© Copyright Michael Parise 2017
Portions excerpted from Michael’s book: Life Interrupted, Taking Charge After Everything Has Changed
Since 1979 Michael has worked with individuals and groups to take full advantage interruptions and changes to balance responsibilities, simplify their lives, and find greater productivity and peace.
Want Michael to speak for your next event? Or hire him as your personal executive Life Coach to improve your relationships at home and at work? Call 813-444-9641 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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