When I listen to conversations, I find that our stories take two distinct roads. The first, expressed with such intimate detail, involves when something happened to us. Our car didn’t start and we had to walk two blocks in the snow (because our cell phone was dead) to get help.
The second type of story, less obvious to us but more profound, are the stories that we share as to why something did not happen. These stories are just as rich in detail but they describe everything about everything else that prevented us from succeeding. Our stories sound exciting (having us participate) even though their ending was poor.
They are so believable. We are always the victim. And we never describe ourselves in these endings as having failed or sharing what we learned that we would do differently the next time. We simply end up as the victim.
What we fail to realize is that these stories damage us for life. Possibility is reduced to empty dreams. Personal growth is traded for hollow routines. These stories, slowly over time, take away our unique ability to engage in truly living our lives.
What I find so frustrating is that, through these stories, we easily convince ourselves that our thinking was good and it’s only the circumstances that don’t allow us to do what we really want to accomplish.
I’ve done this a million times only to find, that in the end, my thinking was flawed. At one time they seemed so dramatic. I was so engaged and involved as the stories described. Yet my stories always had me ending up in the same place. Frustrated. Disappointed. Tired.
I was so blind to the fact that I could always convince myself of anything. No matter how wrong. No matter if my thinking or behavior would take me no where. I was so flawed in believing that “circumstances” always determined my future.
The true story was, that I did not understand the situation well enough to choose differently. My experiences were too narrow so I did not even know of other possibilities. So I always ended up in the “same place”.
Being a great storyteller is admirable. Listening to one can be truly enjoyable. But always being a victim is not.
Never believe all of your stories. The conclusions you reach (about how circumstances stopped you) are less true than you think (even when you feel good telling them). Your stories, just maybe, could have had a different ending.
Remember to never be your own audience and always be your toughest critic wondering what could I have done differently to change your story’s ending. Living your life fully depends on this.