Friday, 6 March 2015

Saying Goodbye to Your Tale of Woe: An Ode to the Magnitude of Personal Power

What was the last story you told someone about your relationship? Your job? Your childhood? What was the last story you told about yourself with passion and conviction? Was it a story about loss, pain and victimhood? Was it a story about every single thing that went wrong? Maybe it was really a story about someone else - someone whose ignorance or cruelty overshadows your joy every single time.

Jung said that evil exists in the world because people can't tell their stories. I have always agreed with this (although I don't favour the word evil but I think I know what he was getting at). Every single person needs and deserves the space to tell their stories. Sharing our experiences helps us to unravel our inner mythologies and understand ourselves at the deepest level. Sharing our experiences helps us to feel seen. Speaking our truths out loud and having them acknowledged facilitates the sweet and joyful dance back to self, even if tears are shed and even if our voices shake as we tell..

Yet I also see how sticky our stories can be, and how we hide behind them, shirking our own accountability for what happens next.

There is a place and time in which your story is raw and real and liberating. There is a moment at which the telling of your story is an absolutely essential part of your healing process. But then there is a time for you to leave that story aside and begin writing a new one. Your tale of woe has a shelf life, a time span for its usefulness. It becomes stale at the point where it is used as an excuse, a blanket, a barrier between you and the positive changes you envision in your mind but fear putting into action. It turns toxic when it takes up all your energy and attention, when it bores you even as you tell it again and again..

Everything that you have lived through is important. None of it is insignificant. You are valid. Your life is valid. But you get to choose when to choose another story to focus on. That doesn't mean that your tragedy didn't happen, that you had no right to be angry, that your childhood didn't affect you.. It simply means that you're not going to hang your whole life on that point in time. It means you're ready to take the power back.

You may need to tell your tale of woe for years before you get free. You may need to go through it piece by bloody piece with three different therapists and an armload of friends. You may need to write it out of you, paint it out of you, dance it out of you.. You may tell it until you've turned yourself inside out and upside down. You may spit it through clenched teeth.

But when it's done with, it's done with. You just know. And when the story is old and tired and you're just hanging onto it and shrouding yourself in it, you just know. And every time you tell that story and insist upon the telling of it and permit it to define your life and shape your soul and steal your time, you just know. And you feel like a sycophant because you know it's time to let the story go and stop curling up with it. You know it's time to stop letting it walk all over your stage and speak your lines and take your applause.

Is there a tired old story like that in your life right now?

It's time for a new one.