What’s Your Story?
There is a principle of appreciative living, called “The Narrative Principle”. Telling a certain story, perpetuates that certain reality. In other words, the story perpetuates itself. Perhaps you know this as the “self-fulfilling prophecy”.
Imagine for a moment, that you meet a stranger, somewhere, perhaps a man, a woman, a child, a CEO, a student, the queen… You have 10 minutes to tell your story. The person is supportive, empowered and non-judgmental.
- What is the essence of you? What is the story you will share/pass on?
- Does your story change according to who you are speaking with?
- Does your story change depending on your mood?
What is the most natural perspective you adopt when telling your story? Is it a story of empowerment: “How I Am Making It”, full of appreciation and acknowledgement of the responsiveness of the universe? You have a choice. Do you make an impression on the stranger by telling a story of woe, of having no choices, making sacrifices and being a victim?
You can benefit from taking some time on a regular basis (even 5 minutes) to ask yourself: “What is my story?”
If you were to invest the next 5 minutes to answer this question and reflect on your answer… “What is my story?” Now write down, without pausing, “what is the story I am telling myself about my life?”
Perhaps you are doing this exercise now, and can see this moment as an opportunity to be present. Now you can take this opportunity to invest in your life, your experience and your story. Perhaps you feel too pressed to let go of whatever it is that is distracting you and choose to simply read this post. Perhaps it is not necessary to write down your answer, and you are nevertheless able to do this exercise/ practice telling a life-enhancing story in your mind. Whatever works for you is a good place to start.
Our personal stories, our narratives, the stories we tell ourselves reflect the meaning we give to circumstances, challenges and everything that is in our life. Your story has power, it has energy and it carries the essence of life. You can tell/begin to tell a story that is full of appreciation, that owns your power and your ability to find your passion, follow your passion, define your goals to embrace your passion and to notice that we are making a difference… This is the story that is appreciative and regenerative, generating more health, greater well-being and a better life.
A degenerative narrative comes from telling a story that is still stuck in the past and past misfortune. This might be part of the process of trying to resolve and turnaround such misfortune. However, when such narratives are told from the perspective of a victim, blaming others for what has happened (even if they might be responsible), seeking to convince (the listener) how one is justified in holding onto what one is holding onto.
Does your narrative reflect a Narcissistic Perspective? Your story is all about you, this is true even for appreciative narratives – but is it all about you only in terms of you being a martyr, and you needing the approval of others or based on what you own and other only material accomplishments?
Do you tell a story that disregards that you are making a difference, that you notice challenges and take the leap – that you make the most of what is but you down-size or negate your strengths? No one likes a boaster, but it is not necessary to be self-depreciative either.
The narrative you tell invites and connects with the “recipient”/listener on many levels. You may have heard the saying that “misery loves company”. While telling a miserable narrative might give sympathy and invite the other to tell a similar story, both reinforcing each others stories – this does not really create a win-win scenario.
The Appreciative Narrative
The great and encouraging news is that each moment is a new moment, in this moment you can choose whether you will tell an empowered story or not. No matter what story you have been telling, it is not the only story you tell… and you can always tell a better-feeling story. Even great stories get better when you continue building on its greatness.
Telling a disempowered story can still be the turning point when you choose to create even the slightest, smallest change – and such changes in perspective will turn your life around. A good beginning is to write down 5 values/principles that enhance your life. Now tell your story and use these values as part of your narrative. Write down a strength and let your story reflect this strength.
With practice, you will not only feel better but you will live better. Write down an affirmation, and bring this into your story. If you are more comfortable beginning with a written story, then begin by writing your story down.
Watching television, listening to others tell their story and reading, notice the life-building qualities of the stories of others. Notice where their stories reflect strength, transcending obstacles, making choices, mindfulness and taking responsibility. Play with your story and how it is different when you embrace such practices. Such narratives are all-embracing and don’t find it necessary to label things as right or wrong, good or bad, they are free of blaming and excuses and you do not need to justify your decisions.
Imagine a series of stepping stones. Place on each stepping stone insights, synchronicities, strengths, values and principles. If you stepped from stone to stone, where would that take you? Imagine the stones as being colorful, bright and firm and stable… imagine a calming sound in the background or an inspiring soundtrack (such as for Rocky or Chariots of Fire)… notice that as you step from stone to stone… word to word… sentence to sentence, you feel better and better. Savor these positive feelings as you reflect on your story.