Riddled with resentment? Overtaken by guilt? Drowning in grief? Is there something situation you just can’t seem to get past? You may need to own your story.
This begs two questions: “What is my story?” and “How do I own it?”
Yes, your story is what happened, but it is more than that. It is your truth rather than the truth that matters. Your story includes your thoughts and feelings as well as the meaning you attached to the experience and the beliefs that were formed or reinforced as a result.
Your story also takes place in the larger context of your life. This is where it gets tricky, because here is where we tend to create or exaggerate patterns. Although these are usually negative story lines they offer our analytic brains the perceived comfort of thinking we can predict our next disappointment. It’s rarely the facts that floor us, it’s the story.
Owning your story is a transformation of grief to acceptance. None of us have a problem owning stories where nothing is lost. Where we struggle is when something, whether a person, a belief or a relationship, dies. For this reason, taking ownership of our stories follows a similar process to grieving. Like grieving it is also not a linear journey, we are likely to back-step or go through the steps more than once.
How do you own it?
- Make it a priority. Healing often requires time, most often time alone. The act of taking time alone not only provides the space for thoughts and feelings to occur, but it signals to the self that this is important.
- Detangle your story. Before we can take ownership of our stories we must detangle them. We must separate your story from the facts, while valuing both. Explore this in writing is often helpful.
- Rumble with the feelings. Then we must follow Brené Brown’s advice and “rumble” with our stories. We must ask the difficult questions. What else is there to learn? What other ways are there of looking at it? How do words like vulnerability, forgiveness, trust and shame feature in the story? What am I feeling? What stories lie beneath my feelings? What part did I play? What do I play in keeping the pain alive? What lessons did I take away? How can I keep the lesson alive without keeping the pain alive? What beliefs did I form and is it time to reconsider them?
After you ruminate with these questions, steeping yourselves in self-inquiry, you may feel more exhausted initially. This is a good time to practice self-care. Although uncomfortable, if you make the time to detangle your story and rumble with your feelings you will emerge with a sense of clarity and increased mastery over your life.