Changing Our Stories
By Dr Peggy
Last month your assignment was to explore the stories you tell in the areas of health, happiness, work, family and relationships. We focused on these five areas because we sometimes have the most creative and revealing stories in these areas of our lives. As you reflect on the stories you wrote begin to deconstruct them by identifying the hero or heroine, the victims, the circumstances, who has power and who doesn’t, and the general feeling you have about the story. Did you like you stories or did you find that some parts of your stories need changing?
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. How do my stories reflect my values and what is truly important to me?
2. Do my stories give life to my dreams or do they snuff out energy for my dreams?
3. Do my stories position me in a powerful way or do they confine me to being a victim of my circumstances?
4. Do my stories bring me joy, laughter, love and excitement for life or do they sentence me to a life of drudgery, sadness and complacency?
Along with Jim Loehr in “The Power of Story”, Byron Katie author of “Loving What Is” challenges us about the truth of our stories. Byron Katie provides a guide of four questions: “Is it true; is it absolutely true; how do you react, what happens when you believe that thought; and who would you be without that thought?”. While Byron Katie uses this process to examine our thoughts, which are the foundations of our stories, I believe that this four question guide can be useful when applied to our stories. For example what happens to us when we believe our stories and who would we become without them? These questions are very powerful tools when we want to examine our stories for alignment with our dreams, mission/purpose, and goals.
There is good news….because they are our stories we have permission to change them. Let’s start with stories about your health as they are sometimes the easiest to change. Are you engaged in an exercise routine, feeding your body nutritious and well balanced foods or giving your body time to recover from the hectic pace of life? If you believe that you just don’t have time for these things that becomes your guiding story. For example, if I believe that I cannot take better care of my health because of all of the time demands placed upon me, I am living that story that takes me away from living a fully engaged life.
What would happen to me if I stopped believing my story that my job is just too demanding to allow for 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times a week? Who might I be without this story? From the perspective of Full Engagement, which is what this series is about, without this story a consistent exercise program will lead me to a more engaged with my family, my friends, and even my co-workers. This engagement might even allow me to be productive enough to create even more rituals that increase my energy rather than draining it. (We are going to focus on a number of rituals that increase energy next month just in time for New Year’s resolutions.)
So this month as the pace of life’s demands naturally pick up, the assignment is to examine your stories for areas that both lead you towards a more fully engaged life and those which take you away from full engagement. A you begin to you allow yourself to truly “live into” life enhancing stories you will find this momentum takes you into an even deeper and more fulfilling life!