What in your life do you think has most accurately defined and shaped you? Think of it this way: if you were asked to tell a true story about your life to someone you just met, what narrative would you choose to introduce yourself if your intention was to have the other person know and understand you?
We all have stories about significant events, adventures, happenings, and accomplishments that we tell about our lives. And the person we most often tell them to is ourself. By dwelling on certain stories and not on others, we shape our beliefs about our reality and who we are in that reality. The stories that we choose to focus on from the past then become the foundation of our identity in the present and the future.
How we interpret the events in our lives determines how we feel. When someone doesn't show up for a lunch date, if you believe that they just don't care about you, you are likely to feel hurt or sad or angry. Or if you think that perhaps they had an accident on their way to the restaurant, you would probably experience fear or worry. The event itself does not create the emotion; it is what we tell ourselves about the event. How we interpret and therefore feel about certain events tends to shape future responses to similar situations and a repetitive experience often creates a belief system that perpetuates itself. For example, if you have a history of being punished or shamed for your mistakes, the punishment or shame becomes linked with mistakes. Instead of being stepping stones to learning, mistakes in your story are experienced as something to avoid at any cost, or if thats not possible, something you need to explain away or cover up. What if you were to consciously choose to think about mistakes as valuable opportunities to increase your understanding and perspective? How would that new story change the way you feel about yourself and how would it affect your interactions with other people?
Talking about his painful childhood, Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in the movie 'Saving Mr. Banks' says: I'm tired of remembering it that way. Aren't you tired too, Mrs. Travers? Now we all have our sad tales, but don't you want to finish the story? Let it all go and have a life that isn't dictated by the past?" Walt Disney and Albert Einstein were in agreement about the remarkable power of the imagination to change the experience of our 'reality'.
"The past is just a bunch of stories you've decided to tell yourself. You can always tell different ones if you want. It takes some work, but it's possible.... go back find some stories you've forgotten. Things that are just as true as the ones you've been holding on to. Tell the new ones to yourself for a while. Slant it a different way.... No reason to get stuck with just one..." author James W. Hall
There are a lot of stories that have shaped your life. You get to decide which ones you want to focus on and carry forward.