The other day I was having a conversation with a friend. We were sharing stories from days gone by about each of our lives. We hopped from one story to the next — based on what each of us were sharing. It was really an incredible discussion as we were each learning from the other through the power of the stories we were telling.
Over the last few years I’ve been much more aware of the way I share my own personal stories with others. Of what it is that I’m putting out into the world. And of how the stories I tell impact others as well as myself. It’s become somewhat of an acquired skill — being truly aware of exactly what my stories are and how I share them. Of what they mean to me. I suppose you could say I have a new level of self awareness when it comes to the stories I tell myself and others.
Anyway, there my friend and I were sharing stories. Funny stories, sad stories and stories that make you think — that cause you to question your perspective on things. We reached a point in the discussion, where it seemed like the right moment for me to share a story that I often tell. One from my past that has always brought to mind a series of mixed thoughts and emotions. I told the story just as I always have. And the response was the same as it often is — one of interest and engagement. Yet, as I was telling the story I realized something. I wasn’t feeling the same way I usually did about this particular story. In fact, the further I got into the story the more I realized that I might just have outgrown the story. That perhaps it was actually no longer as relevant to my life or the person I am today. By the time I was finished the story, it was as though I knew the story wouldn’t be sitting on the same bookshelf of stories in my life any longer. It truly was a story from my past — and it no longer represented who I am today.
It’s important to remember that we decide the stories that decide our lives. And that sometimes we outgrow our stories — because we change, move on or let go of things that once held onto us. Learning to recognize when it’s time to retire a story so you can move on to write new stories in your life is essential. It’s the difference between building your future vs living in the past.
Put Your Mind to It
The next time you find yourself sharing stories about who you are, your life and you past — take a moment to reflect. Are they really the stories you want to tell about yourself? Do they align with the person you are today?
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Jane Boyd is a Partner in GeniusShared. She is also the CEO of 45 Conversations Media & Education Ltd, a Canadian education and training company based just outside of Vancouver Canada. She works with educators, business, community and government in the areas of early learning, work-life, community development and employee engagement.