You might be thinking ‘What do you mean what’s my story, Cheryl?’. Well, everybody has one, don’t they? In fact, there are many. Let’s have a look at all the different kinds of stories you tell and why you tell them.
There are the ‘family history’ stories.
These can be amusing, important and meaningful things, sometimes sad, mostly happy, that everyone remembers and therefore become a shared memory and a bonding tool. A friend of mine is married to a Frenchman. In their household, the father-in-law often tells the tale of when his (French obviously) son pronounced the name of a French town in the English way – with a “th” sound – which doesn’t exist in France apparently, or in Yorkshire where you might get t’bus, but you would never get THE bus. lol. Well, this was met with great hilarity in the French household and has now gone down in the annals of family history. These are now told to new members of the family such as in-laws and children, and he will never be rid of it.
There are the stories you tell your children.
I don’t mean fairy stories, I mean family stories and stories of when they were little (or little’er). These are also ways of passing on family history and making sure the important things are remembered. Then there are the stories you tell them about when you were their age – and these are generally for a purpose – which might be empathy and understanding, but often also with a lesson. So, you might tell the story of when you were 5 and first went to school and how big and strange it felt, but how you soon loved it and had new friends.
Or you might tell the story of when you didn’t think you could do something and then you did it, to encourage them, or maybe the story of when you nearly got knocked over by a car to discourage them from doing something silly. These ones rarely work, but we tell them anyway – because that’s how we impart knowledge and how we make sense of the world. And when we share stories they become more than the sum of the parts.
What I mean by that is – that everyone has a different take on what happens in life and a shared story in a family, or among friends, or in a workplace, gives everyone an opportunity to impart their take on it, make the thing bigger than it was before and then it becomes ‘our’ story and creates a bond that wasn’t there before, or a deeper bond than was there before.
And there are the stories companies create
An example of this is when companies go through huge change. Change is exciting and necessary but can also be very scary for most people. The companies that come out the other side of change the best – are the ones that share the story. Companies that encourage conversation and input into their ‘change’ story – create a bond between the teams that helps them go through the tough times. If you know what you are doing something for and that is a result that is meaningful to you, then you will endure any kind of hardship to get there.
In business – there are many occasions you need to tell a story – especially if you are in sales or the business owner. There are the stories you tell at networking events. There are the stories you tell in a presentation. There are the stories you tell in a company annual conference or a team meeting. And there are the stories you tell when doing any form of public speaking. These are stories of how the company came about, the difference you make to your clients, the vision of the future.
And then there are the stories you tell yourself.
These can be positive, negative or unknown. ‘What the ‘eck are you talking about Cheryl how can you tell yourself an unknown story?” Well, bear with – let me explain. First – the positive stories. These are generally shared. And can be anything – from ‘I’m going to The Caribbean next year for my holiday’ to ‘I’m going to lose a stone before Christmas’. Why are they stories? Because they haven’t happened yet – you haven’t actually booked the holiday or lost any weight. However, in your mind you can see it all – the blue sea, the sun, the palm trees. It is all there – all the detail, and because you don’t have any concerns that it might not happen – you are happy to say it out loud, like it is already a fact.
These stories are future paced. And they will generally come true – as you are happy to put it out there (unless of course the hidden story destroys it. Be patient – we are coming to that).
There are also the positive stories based on past experience. “I have run 3 marathons before so I will definitely be able to do the London marathon this year”.
Then there are the negative stories. These are generally not shared, because if they were, they would cease to have the power over you that they do. They would be exposed as lies or myths. They are the stories like “I can’t lose weight because I have a slow metabolism”. Or “I can’t stop smoking, I have tried and I just can’t”. You may share these stories with other ‘close’ friends who also have things they ‘can’t’ do, and so you can all feel better together. You aren’t “so bad” after all because there is someone else who is as much of a “failure” as you think you are.
Of course, the best thing to do with these stories is share them with a positive friend, a counsellor, a coach or a therapist, who can help uncover what the real story is here and can help you to change that story. Because let’s face it – are there a lot of overweight people in the world? Yes. Do some of them have challenges with slower metabolisms? Absolutely. Do some of those still lose weight? Of course. So, the story is just that. The important thing is to recognise it IS a story, look back at the places in your life where that story got started and where it became established, and then rewrite the story. Because the stories you told yourself up till now, have got you to where you are, but probably won’t get you to where you need to be. Does that make sense? Good.
And then there are those unknown stories.
These are the most powerful stories of all. These are the ones that can ruin lives, and they are the hardest to deal with. These are the stories behind the stories. Let me give you an example. You may know my story about Gordon and Stella, being my two best friends….of the alcoholic variety. Well, I had a stressful job, and my story every Friday night was that I deserved to kick back and have a few drinks. My story was that I needed them to unwind because of how stressful my job was. My story was that it helped me get through the week to know I could chill out at the weekend with my two bessie’s.
That was the story I told myself.
But that wasn’t the story. The real story – the story that was playing in the background – the story I wasn’t aware of – because I didn’t want to be, was that I was not enough.
Work was stressful – because I was not enough. I ‘should’ have been able to do more, do better and then I wouldn’t have found it stressful, so it was my ‘fault’. I was not enough. I drank – that is because I clearly couldn’t cope without it – so again reinforcing – I was not enough.
There’s more to it than that but you get the point. This unknown story – which was being played by my sub conscious, which had its roots in childhood and then had been reinforced through other incidents in child and adulthood – was ruling my life. It wasn’t that I was drinking too much (or not ONLY that) – it was that I wasn’t looking at life the right way. This story I had playing “I am not enough” prevented my even thinking about what I really wanted. What was the point of doing that – since “I was not enough” so I would never be able to deserve to have anything else.
Once (with the help of my mentor) I had uncovered this unknown story, shared it, realised it was a load of bollocks and changed it – then everything changed. I stopped drinking. I stopped being in a job I hated. I began creating the life I love and live now. Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t stopping drinking that changed my life, it was changing my life that stopped me drinking. Do you see? I’m not anti drinking and not everyone who drinks has a problem with it. But if you do, then stopping drinking isn’t the answer. Stopping the unknown story running IS.
Then and only then, can you successfully stop drinking, or whatever else it is you do to self sabotage. That could be over eating / arguing and fighting / lacking confidence / not taking opportunity for lack of self belief / not travelling for fear of flying – or a myriad of other things. The answer to all of which starts with uncovering and sharing the unknown story.
If you need help with that – or with creating your work related stories – then book in here for the complimentary 20 minute call with me, and let’s start to change your story!