The Great Storyteller

Want to hear a great story? Consider that all youhave to do is start talking. As human beings, storytelling is what we do and we’ve actually become pretty darn good at it. Something happens and we automatically create a story to represent our interpretation of the situation. It’s a story we become vested in by repeatedly telling it to ourselves and sharing it with others. And then we unconsciously look for evidence to support our story as being “the truth.” In fact, we live our lives as though the story we created is the truth.

Imagine you’re eight years old and you bring home a report card with A’s and B’s. You’re so proud that you can hardly wait to show your parents. Your dad takes one look and says, “Not good enough. I want to see straight A’s. Go to your room and think about it.” Your story? I have to be perfect in order to be loved. The truth? Your father said what he said –- no more, no less. But you continue to live your life from that moment on with perfection front-and-center. And you carry that weight around with you your entire life.

So, why have we become such great storytellers? To gain three parts sympathy, two parts excitement, and one part (heaping) drama, perhaps? If we’re being honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we do love the drama. But here’s the thing: if we don’t step out of the drama and scale back our stories, we’ll have little chance of considering other possibilities.  

What are some of the stories you’ve created to explain the situations and events in your life? How have they affected your relationships with your colleagues and peers, your family and friends? And how have they affected you? Our interpretations are self-destructive barriers we create to keep us from achieving the things in life we want to achieve. And they keep us rather constrained, don't they? How can someone who believes they need to be perfect ever be fully self-expressed in the world? It’s simply not going to happen.

Challenge your interpretations. Consider another way to look at things. What would another person’s perspective of the situation be (your partner or spouse, your peers, your best friend)? And what would someone who had the complete opposite point of view from yours say about the situation? It’s not about agreeing with a differing or opposing view; it’s to really know that other ways of seeing a situation exist.

Next time you find the urge to indulge in a great story, consider a trip to the local bookstore instead of creating one of your own. (Guaranteed, it will cost you a whole lot less!)