Have you ever heard the saying “everyone has a story”? Have you ever felt shy about telling your story?
I’ve been doing a great deal of reflecting on these questions in response to sharing my story in a recent anthology: When Women Talk: Empowering Each Other One Story at a Time. I had to think long and hard about whether I wanted to contribute to this book because I knew that saying “yes” would mean that I would need to open up and be vulnerable. And, I don’t know about you, but feeling vulnerable is not easy and it’s not comfortable.
Have you seen the reality TV show “Naked and Afraid?” I knew that sharing my personal story would leave me feeling naked and afraid. In view of that, the reason to say “yes” needed to be compelling enough for me to go for it.
In the end, I decided to say “yes.”
Why would I open myself up to be naked and afraid?
Because I realized that it’s not about the story.
Have you seen the YouTube Clip: It’s Not About the Nail? I’ve attached it and I think you’ll find that it’s pretty funny. Just like it’s not about the nail in this clip, telling our stories is not about the actual story. Sure some stories are more interesting than others and there are more drama and trauma being shared, but regardless of the content of the story, it’s really not about the actual story.
If it’s not about the story itself, then what is it about?
It’s about the learning and wisdom and transformation that we gain through our stories and because of having lived our stories. It’s not our stories that matter as much as what we do with them.
What does that really mean?
Have you heard the quote by Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living?” That sounds pretty dramatic to me and almost threatening. And yet, that’s exactly what the purpose of our stories is.
So what happens when you’re not willing or able to examine and grow from the stories of your life? Our stories begin to show up in our lives in the way of health issues, relationship issues, abundance issues, lack of meaning and purpose and any other “issue” that you can imagine.
Our untold and unexamined stories feel and look like anger and resentment, lack of self-love, inner stress, emotional issues, difficulty sleeping, and countless health issues and the list goes on.
Our stories are either working for us or against us.
Many people chose to turn away from their stories rather than turn towards them. They decide that their stories aren’t worthy of attention or telling so they stifle them or numb them or keep themselves so busy they won’t have to face them.
The thing is that stories don’t go away just because we pretend they don’t exist.
If we’re not meant to turn away from the stories of our lives, what are we supposed to do with our stories?
We’re meant to own them, share them, examine them, learn from them and then share what we’ve learned with others.
As I said earlier, it’s not about the story. It’s about using your story to learn how to become more deeply connected in your relationships, how to be healthier and more at peace with yourself and your life.
It’s about using your story to transform your life and heal what needs to be healed in order to stop the cycle of trauma and drama that resides within each of us, regardless of how big or small our stories are.
As Brené Brown said in Rising Strong, “We own our stories so we don’t spend our lives being defined by them or denying them. And while the journey is long and difficult at times, it is the path to living a more whole-hearted life.”
In the end, while it’s not about the actual story, our stories do matter as they create a catalyst for change, healing, and growth. They matter because they form the fabric of who we are and most importantly create the hope for who we’re meant to become. And as each of us owns, embraces and transcends our stories we shine a little brighter in this world.
So as you reflect on the stories in your life: Have you examined your story and grown from them in order to be healthier and happier? What tools worked for you in your transformation? If you haven’t and your story is keeping you from thriving in your life, what is holding you back?