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To Change your Life, tell a Better Story

If you're having trouble un-sticking old patterns despite your best attempt to not keep repeat ing them, you might be missing a crucial element: how you tell your story. Like it or not, the stories we tell define us, and often determine our futures. Read on to find out more...

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Years ago I worked a front desk position where I checked Nervous Nellies in for their imminent dental appointments. I made it a little game to try and distract people from the high-pitched hum of the dental drill by getting them talking.

It worked like a charm, but I figured out something pretty early: People didn’t have one time stories. They had whole patterns of behavior. They had themes that ran through their entire lives and right into their futures.

And I got pretty good at predicting people’s behavior. Merely through listening to their stories.

Tell me your story, and I could fairly accurately predict how you’d end up treating the staff, making your appointments and paying your bills. The themes that darkened or brightened people’s pasts, always managed to show up in their present and futures.

It taught me an important lesson: If you want to know where you’re going in life, listen carefully to the stories you’re telling. About yourself. About your past. About your future. That will tell you everything you need to know about where you’re heading.

Why? I think because as humans, we’re pattern seekers, and pattern keepers. The stories we’ve kept of our pasts, tend to repeat in our futures. This might be disheartening if it weren’t for one small but mighty truth: You can always change your story.

Change your story, change your future.

Too often though we don’t think we are telling a story. We think we’re speaking the plain and simple truth. It happened how it happened. You can’t change that.

But did it? Did it happen the way we tell it? Are we only telling the facts?

I had a friend years ago, who around this time of year would call me up to bemoan her darkest story. Christmas reminded her of what was supposed to have been. How she was supposed to be happily married with kids, a family of her own.

She wasn't supposed to be single, and divorced. Lonely and childless, all because the man who said he’d love her til death do them part had abandoned her without a second thought. Probably never even loved her, certainly not thought twice about leaving her…

This was confusing to the rest of us around her, because far from being abandoned by him, she was the one who sent him the divorce papers. She had left him. She didn’t want to be a part of a marriage that was so terribly dysfunctional and verbally/emotionally abusive.

And far from him abandoning her without a second thought, he held on. Sent messages and texts for years later, until she finally instituted a “no contact,” rule, and froze him out completely. No judgement, that was probably for the best, but these are hardly the actions of a man who had no trouble letting go, or those of woman clinging to the husband who abandoned her.

If our stories are simply the facts of our past, how did my friend get it so wrong? How are our versions of events so dramatically different?

Because facts are what happen to us. The events that unfold. But stories are what we make them mean. Stories are how we make the facts fit, for better or worse. My friend had an old story of being abandoned. So she made the facts fit the story. Without ever realizing she was telling a story, not the Truth -- not just the facts.

Imagine if she had told herself a different story.

The story of a woman who chose to leave a terrible marriage in order to find something better. A woman who believed she was worth fighting for, because *she* was fighting for her, and her future. A woman who believed in her ability to find a happier future.

The facts are still the same. She’s single. She’s divorced. That marriage is behind her. But the story is far far different. One has a woman abandoned, the other a woman empowered and emboldened.

Now which do you think is going to give her a brighter, better future? Which is going to feel better? Which is going to fuel her to take positive action right now?

We can’t take back the divorce. Or change any of the facts. And the truth is bad things do happen. Losses. Grief. Abuses, bankruptcies. Divorce. But we can tell the story of those things breaking us, of us being victims, powerless, unlucky. Or we can tell the stories of how ultimately, despite the loss, we prevailed over them.

Why? So we can hopefully map a better tomorrow. You can’t tell yourself old stories, with only bad endings, and somehow end up in a happier place. Bad maps rarely lead to good places.

And the first step is to recognize where we might have a faulty map in place — a bad story.

To find them look for the stuck places. The places where the same damn thing you keep trying to avoid keeps happening. Anywhere you aren’t getting traction, and are repeating a negative story is a good place to take a little peak at. Ask yourself, what is the story I’m telling myself here?

Is there a different way to tell the story?

If this story were a film with a good ending, how would you change the telling of it?

Could the heroine ultimately prevail or move on from these event with something better, even if it’s just a greater understanding? And in a way that doesn’t diminish the pain or loss of what happened.

We don’t have to Pollyanna or silver-lining our stories and pain, to find a way to effectively shift them. Pain happens. It just doesn’t need to define us.


Next week we'll delve into how to actually start to shift those stories, but in the meantime, lots of love, and I hope that helps.

If you happen to need someone to hold your hand, and help you work through your stories, and redefine them, that’s what I’m here for!

If you’re interested in working with me you can contact me at: or use messenger here on Facebook or Instagram! I love helping people just like you!

And with that, I’m off! I will see you all next week in the meantime here are some other articles you might enjoy:

As always, make sure to hit that like button, and sign up for blog so you never miss another post about being happy, and pursuing your dreams!



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