Are you a reader? I am. I LOVE reading. I love when the author sets up a really good character – one that you can just fall into their world and live simultaneously with them, guessing what they’d do in each circumstance.
Did you know you’re an author too? I am too. So is everyone you meet. My clients tell me stories all the time. They don’t realize they’re doing it but they are.
For example: Think about your day. Are you happy? Would you label it a good day? A bad day? WHY? Why is it good or not good?
See, we interpret the world around us through the stories we tell ourselves. Then those stories we tell directly effect on how we feel and how we show up in our lives.
Just this morning I was reading an article about a 30 year old man that had spent the last 12-13 years living in what could have been land. When he was in high school he was amazing at football. So good in fact, that he received a full college scholarship for it. But tragically he was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down before he even graduated high school.
He lost his scholarship and the future he thought he’d have. Then he spent the next decade (and more) telling himself the story of what SHOULD have been. That this wasn’t fair. He should have been the star football player in college and gone on to the NFL. If only he hadn’t been in that car. If only he ___________ then he’d be happy. He was miserable and unhappy and spending the precious time he has now wallowing.
How different would his life have been had he just told himself a different story? A story of a tragedy but where he rose to greatness BECAUSE of his accident instead of being destroyed by it. What possibilities could he have encountered and taken advantage of had he decided to tell himself a different story?
I’m not judging his choices. We’re all doing the best we can. But I know that if he wanted to – whenever he’s ready he can change his story. Nate Burkus tells us to “Be a ruthless editor of what you allow in your home.” But I want to change that to, Be a ruthless editor of what you allow into your HEAD.
What story are you telling yourself? What story are you telling yourself about the dishes you’re having to wash? Your screaming toddler that just won’t stop today? The constant messy house? The ridiculously long to do list that doesn’t ever seem to end?
What story are you telling yourself
In the story are you the victim or the hero? Did you rise above the circumstances or do you complain and wallow in them?
This is so crucial because your thoughts create how you feel. How you feel is going to result in HOW YOU ACT. How you act is going give you your RESULTS.*
If you’re telling yourself that this isn’t fair, that life should have been different – you’re going to feel wronged, resentful. You’re going to feel like a victim. You’re going to feel negative and unhappy. These feelings are going to motivate you to do what? What do you do when you feel negative, resentful, frustrated, unhappy??? Then based on your actions – what results do you think you’re going to get?
I don’t say this to so you’ll feel guilty – We’ve all done it – we’ve all written less than desirable stories from day to day – I say this because knowing that YOU are the author of your story means that YOU get to decide how you WANT to feel, how you choose to act, and best of all what results you’re going to get.
A couple of years ago I had this Victim to Hero experience. I had to drive my daughter to her dance rehearsal at this theater right next to the capital building. The drive down was a mess of cars, traffic, and holiday events. Parking anywhere near the theater was non-existant because the city was preparing for a marathon the following day and we were running late already. I decided that in order for my daughter to get there as quickly as possible I’d just have to suck it up and pay the ridiculous fee at the garage next to the theater which was something like $5.00 a quarter of an hour parking and I wasn’t sure just how long she’d be there. But it was crucial that she got there so I splurged and drove in. When I got in the parking attendant asked me if I knew I had a flat tire. I didn’t. They gave me a spot near their booth that had a little more room so that I could get roadside assistance to help me out.
I left the car, ran my daughter over to the theater – it was a closed rehearsal so I’d have to wait outside in the cold…at night…Did I mention it was also raining? Not the best evening. I called for roadside assistance and the employee was rather rude and told me that it was rush hour traffic (like I did’nt know that already) and that it’d be at least an hour before he could get over to me.
Frustrated I sat on the only thing I could outside – this tiny cement bench that was wet from the rain. I was feeling overwhelmed by the course of the evening and at the prospect of having to wait in the cold until my car could get fixed.
Then I had this interesting thing happen. I noticed the story I was telling myself. That this shouldn’t have happened. That it was dark and rainy and I had to sit outside. That I’d have to wait an hour at least until my car could get fixed. That I was going to have to pay a small fortune at that parking garage. You get the gist.
I recognized that I was creating this sad tale and I didn’t like the way it felt. So, I decided to change it. The only change I made was this, a question: How could this evening be not so bad? My brain went immediately to work and started looking for evidence that this evening wasn’t that bad after all. So I noticed that even though it was rainy – it wasn’t really cold. In fact, I was sitting on my coat so my hiney didn’t get wet and I still wasn’t cold (and I’m always cold). That even it was rainy I wasn’t wet. The bench was partially covered by an awning so I was able to stay dry. That even though it’d be an hour until the serviceman could come – I had to wait that long (and maybe more) anyway until my daughter was done.
I noticed how beautiful it was outside. The leaves were all the gorgeous autumn colors and hadn’t all fallen yet so it was lovely to look at. Yes, I’d have to pay for parking but in the grand scheme of things paying $20 bucks was a small price to pay especially since we didn’t have to miles to the theater. I remembered that my other kiddos were safe, warm, and being loved by their grandmother so I didn’t have to take them with me.
Rewriting my story like this was incredible. I wasn’t fuming anymore so I pulled out a book and had an hour to myself, with all the autumn sites and smells.
It went from being a “bad day” to a really good one! One I still remember with fondness. Also, when the repairman did come – he fixed my tire in less than 10 minutes and the parking attendants didn’t charge me a cent.
I wonder how different things might have been if I’d stewed about all the inconvient things and then gone in there huffing and puffing. But I didn’t. I went in there feeling happy and refreshed after getting an hour of reading time in a beautiful and unexpected place.
I went from a victim in my story with all these “bad” things happening to me – to a hero in my own story. That I can sit outside and wait. That I can brave these inconveniences with a smile and with courage that it’s all gonna be fine.
This week think about the story you tell yourself – in all things. Even when you’re washing your dishes or cleaning up seemingly endless kid messes. Are you the victim? Do these things happen to you and you’re stuck to deal with them? Or are you the hero and can whisk in there are help and serve and save your family? – no, this doesn’t mean they never have to clean again and you’ll get stuck with it forever -all while putting on a happy face. This means that you get to feel at peace and empowered and in a better place to TEACH your kids than your would be if you were feeling angry and resentful.
Totally up to you, my friends. You are the author of your story. Write a good one!
Sources: The Life Coach School