You’re never just in the situations you’re experiencing in some straightforward way.
You’re always in some kind of story about it.
Mostly we don’t see this. We think what we experience is just the way things are. But that’s a huge misunderstanding. You’re always in a story which quite probably has you as the main protagonist, at the centre of the action, and others taking up roles in relationship to you.
Our stories tell us what’s important, what we care about, who to speak to and how to speak, who to avoid, what to do, how to understand the events that happen to us, what sense to make of the situations we find ourselves in.
Our stories shape our moods too. They shape and fuel our joy, our anger and resentment, our hope, despair, rage, love, shame, frustration and gratitude.
To be human is to be storied in this way. We can’t escape it.
Every story opens some possibilities, while closing others. So the responsibility and possibility open to each of us is to re-imagine our stories in a way that frees us, and those around us, to act on what matters.
Here’s just a small sample of the kinds of stories you might find yourself living:
An expert technician: life and work are there to be figured out. You can only act when you know the right answer.
An orphan: alone, cast out, seeking home but never finding it. Carrying a huge hidden burden which apparently can never be put down.
A small person in a land of giants: unable to move in case you get squashed.
A giant in a land of midgets: using your size to get what you want every time.
A prisoner in a jail cell: always looking for the key that will set you free.
A servant: only ok when you’re helping others (but never helping yourself).
A movie star: trying to win respect by being more famous or more beautiful than others.
A lonely oldest child: self-sufficient but also isolated, never depending upon others.
A responsible older child: stays strong, always knows what to do, sorts things out, hides difficulty from others.
A fugitive: running from everything, running from life, terrified of being caught or found.
An impresario: looking for what is magnificent and of value (in self, and in others) and showing it to the world.
A poet or bard: using language and feeling to express what seems true and open new possibilities.
A matchmaker: connecting people to one another so something can happen.
Do you recognise yourself in any of these? Is there another story that describes the way you’re living more accurately? What space for acting, relating, and imagining does it offer you?
And is there another story that you could live that would bring you closer to the contribution you long to make?