There are two types of stories that keep people alive. The first type – is the type people tell themselves when in life threatening situations.
I was reading an article the other day and it was about a guy who survived in the sea for 29 hours after collapsing and falling off a boat. He battled sharks, jelly fish and dive bombing seagulls, and was rescued literally as he was going under. Well, that’s an amazing story in itself, and someone will turn it into a film someday I am sure. But the point of this story is – it was the stories he was telling himself that actually kept him alive.
Of course, thoughts of his family kept him going for the first 18 hours or so, but as he started to physically fail, it was the stories his MIND told him that kept him alive.
Every time he started going under and felt he could not last another minute – his mind would create a hallucination. The first one was 2 Indonesian kids in a boat that he swam towards and as he reached out for the boat it disappeared. There were other boats that came and went, including a 1634 Dutch East India Company sailing ship (like the model he made when he was a kid) complete with weathered old sailors reaching for him and the last time – a boat with all his mates on (the ones he was with when he fell overboard), encouraging him to keep going.
Each one was a hallucination. Each one was a story his brain was telling him in an attempt to get him to not give up, to keep fighting. And without these hallucinations it is likely he would have drowned before the real rescue boat got to him.
I am sure there are many such stories, the mind is your strongest weapon in these situations, or any situation for that matter. It might not be life and death but often in life and business, the person who wins is not the one who is fittest, or strongest, or most intelligent. It is the one who believes they can – and that can be the conscious or subconscious mind. With the latter having the most influence in many cases.
Those self-told stories – by the conscious of unconscious mind – are very powerful and complex. How do we create them? What is the meaning we give them? How can they help or hinder? – All subjects for another time. Suffice it to say, our stories are powerful, for us and for others.
Which brings me to the second way our stories can keep people alive.
These are the stories we tell of the people who are no longer in our lives, who are separated from us by time or distance.
My friends father, Mike, was brought up in India and joined the navy as a 17 year old. After 8 years in the Navy, he met his future wife in East Africa, and settled there, eventually returning (with my friend who was then a toddler) to the UK. All his 4 brothers went to Australia. He kept them alive for himself and his children (who they had never met) through his stories. In those pre-internet and pre ‘phone in every home’ days, it was easy to lose touch with people, sometimes forever.
Fortunately in this case they all re-connected and eventually when Mike’s daughter (my mate Carole) travelled to Australia, she told me it was like coming home. She KNEW these people – she knew their personalities, their shared history with her father – and even their old jokes. They bonded straight away.
Stories keep people alive in your heart. We all have people who have been separated from us by circumstance (leaving school or university) or by distance (relocation, or emigration), or by death. The way we keep those people alive for ever is to talk about them – to tell THEIR stories, and our shared stories.
So, without being depressing – what is it you would like people to say about you when you have gone. Which stories would you like them to tell. What do you want to be remembered for? Because if you want to BE remembered and you want that to be for some good stuff, then you need to make sure you are living the life you want to be remembered for.
I am pretty sure no-one wants to be remembered as ‘the bloke who always worked so hard’ or ‘that woman down the road’. What difference do you want to make in the world? Do you know? If so – are you living that life right now? If not, what is stopping you. It may be the first kind of story again. The ones you tell yourself. The ones that start with ‘I could never’ or ‘I wish I was able to’ or ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to…’.
If you need some help with changing your story to the one you would be proud to be remembered for – book yourself in for a 20 minutes discovery call with me and let’s uncover your story together.