The Power of Story
Remember being at the movies and watching a film with a compelling story that really captured your emotions and your mind. Remember how that movie moved you. What thoughts did it provoke? How did it make you feel? What sensations went through your body? Did it move you to tears of sadness, laughter or joy? Would you have clenched your teeth or did your hairs stand on end? How did you relate to the characters in the story? How did the story affect you afterwards? Was your mood joyful, reflective, inspired, sad, lonely, disgusted, fearful, loving or horrified? How long did those feelings last?
Such is the power of story, and we all love to immerse ourselves in the drama of a compelling story — be it at the movies, in a book, a song, on social media, gossip or in real-life relationship dramas! Story has the power to move us!
Now, remember the stories that have played through your life or are playing now. What sensations go through your body when you connect with those stories? How do those real-life stories shift your thoughts, emotions or mood. What genres or themes consistently show up in your life movie? Are they tragedies? Love stories? Horror? Comedies? Action? Adventure? What characters do you play? Are you the heroine, the victim, the princess, the lover or the bad guy?
What about the story and cast of other characters in your life? What roles do they play? The spouse, the friend, the boss, the employee, the parent, the child, the enemy? What are the stories you tell about them? Are they lazy? Abusive? Controlling? Compassionate? Poor? Trustworthy? Racist? Caring? How do you relate to them? Is the relationship healthy and life enhancing or depleting?
Story is central to our life experience. A script was being written and our character cast from the moment we were born. Our parents or caregivers taught us our lines and told us how to be and how to behave. We all learned to play our parts well because we wanted them to love us, to be proud of us or just to survive the game. Unfortunately, most of us were not told that we could re-write that script and cast ourselves and others in new roles. Most of us didn’t even know we were acting out a script. Fortunately, we all have the power to quit the old act and become the director, scriptwriter, and leading actor in a renewed story of our own making. This new story, YOUR new story, has the power to move you and move the world. What story do you wish to write?
How do you re-write your story and step into your new act?
- Examine your stories, the character you have played and the experiences you have had. Question the thoughts, feelings, assumptions, opinions and beliefs that are part of those stories. Are they true? Be curious. Do you absolutely know that they are true or are they part of a script that you inherited? Choose which thoughts, values, beliefs and behaviors you want to keep and which no longer serve you.
- Write out the new script and the vision of what you want and who you want to be? How will you need to think, believe and act to play that part? Be clear and specific. What will you see, hear and feel when you are actually at the top of your performance? Who are your supporting cast of characters and what parts do they play? Accept your leading role in the new story.
- Let go of the old story. Gather up all the old scripts that pull you down, write them out and ceremonially burn them up in a flame. Find a pathway to forgive yourself and the other actors that played their parts in the old performance. If you hold onto these old stories they will continue to weigh you down and bind you to the old drama. It is often not easy to forgive (and sometimes it takes time), so you are having trouble letting go, get assistance.
- Step into the new role. Play. Practice. Rehearse. Adjust. Fake it until you make it! Find a coach, mentor, friend or therapist to support you, give you feedback, and teach you useful tools and tricks of the troupe.
- Surrender and accept what is. Change happens. You cannot control others or what happens in the world, but you are in charge of the story you tell about it.
- “Break a Leg” in each new act! Have fun, celebrate your successes and live your legacy now. Practice finding something to be grateful for every day.