“Your life is your story. Write well. Edit often.” — Susan Statham
How are you telling the story of your life?
And no, I don’t mean what is your pitch or brand or how are you presenting yourself to others.
I mean, how are you telling your own story to yourself?
Who are you? What is your life all about? What is it’s main theme, what are the most important events and elements?
You life story is not a biography of the facts and events of your life. Instead, it is the way in which you integrate those facts and events internally, the way you make sense out of them.
How do you make choices of what “counts” as important, how do you connect these things together and make meaning out of them?
Such narrative of your life becomes a strong part of your identity. What do your choices on what to include in it and how you tell it tell about yourself?
A life story doesn’t just say what happened – it also says why it was important, what it means for you, who did you become through it, and what is next for you.
Once you tell your story to yourself (or write it), you will understand so many things about yourself…. You can explore it through many questions and perspectives:
Are you empowering yourself through your story or are you victim of the circumstances?
Is life a struggle or an adventure?
Do things happen for a reason?
Are you expecting the best or the worst to happen next?
What is the meaning and the purpose of life? What really matters in life?
What is the purpose of Your life?
Is the world a safe place and can we trust others? Do you sense trust from the words you use when telling your story, or is there anxiety and fear coming through?
How do you treat others? Are you kind, can you trust them, do you feel safe, can you be open and authentic?
How happy are you? How do you measure happiness and success?
How do you build up your happiness – what is the way towards it?
Why is life giving us challenges? How do these challenges impact our life?
What is the main tone and theme of your story?
What soundtrack would fit it? What would be the title of a movie or book made about your story?
And probably the most important question: Do you want to keep your story, or do you want to change it? Does it work for you, or perhaps rewriting it could make you happier and more empowered?
How about you – how clear is your story for you?
Do you know that “What is my story?” might be the single most important question you can ask yourself?
Rewriting your story is not about being delusional that bad things are actually good or in denial about anything – but it is about finding meaning in the events of our life, to recognise the learning, growth and how those events made you the person that you are. And to appreciate that person.
Our story is the lens through which we view life’s events, our goals, our relationships with others – it tells us what can expect of ourselves and out of the life.
We might not always be the captains of our lives – but we are fully in ownership of the story of our lives.
If there is anything about your story that you are not sure about or that remains unclear – it might be the time to clarify it – and perhaps to rewrite in.
Rewrite your story
Ready to explore and re-write your story?
Find a quiet and cozy place and let’s start.
1. Sit quietly and close your eyes. Think back to your childhood. Start from as early as you remember, and just let memories flow for a couple of minutes. Try to remember as vivid details as you can, try to make it tangible and sensory, but don’t get stuck on a single memory. Instead, keep on moving throughout your story.
2. Write down the story of your life, mentioning the most meaningful moments It could be events, relationships with a person, or something that you noticed or learned about yourself and your world. Something that shifted your beliefs and perhaps even your sense of identity. Anything that cause the course of your life to develop in a way that it is today. Do this within 15-20minutes and not more than two A4 pages.
3. Discover the theme of your story. Read your story. Notice what are the most common verbs and themes that show up in the story. Circle down main powerful words, emotions, action verbs.
4. Give it a name. If this was a book or a movie, what would be the name of this story? Don’t give it a name that you like or desire, but one that matches to the story that you just wrote and read.
5. Change your theme. What theme would you like your story to have? What movie/book title would be the desired one? What is the theme that feels inspiring and powerful to you? Write this new theme (and a title) down.
6. Rewrite your story. Take a limited time of 15-20minute and max two A4 pages of empty paper and rewrite your story from a perspective of the new theme. Don’t hide or lie about anything – just try to see it from a different perspective. For example, if your new perspective would be “life is an exciting adventure”, keep on asking yourself “if life is an exciting adventure, what did this event mean in my life?”
7. Let it rest. Then rewrite it again. Put the new story aside for couple of days. Then get back to it and read the next story again. Go through the whole process again and keep on adjusting it in ways that feel empowering yet real and honest to your own story.
Remember: enjoy the process. This is about re-inventing yourself and taking back the power over your life. It can be challenging, but it is also a beautiful process worthy enjoying.
Owning our story and creating it into a story that is meaningful, empowering yet authentic for us is probably the most powerful thing that one can do for own happiness, life satisfaction, but also sense of meaning and positive relationship with self.
How about you?
If you feel like you wish to “own” your life a little bit more, owning you story, and perhaps rewriting it, might be a great place to start!
Are you ready to rewrite your story?
What struggles are you encountering – and what amazing motivating moments did you experience through this process?
Do share in comments – but also to start a conversation in our Positive Psychology Tribe virtual community for meaningful conversations.