As I was strolling through a neighborhood book shop, I came across The Journals of Spalding Gray.
Remembering his presence in a former neighborhood, when I looked at his face on the book jacket, I realized that we all have a story to tell. Our stories define us even more so than our biographies, which are factual. However, our stories sometimes mingle between actual and what we choose to remember.
It is how we remember and retell our stories that shapes our personality and impacts our relationships. What determines our destiny is oftentimes the way we fashion our stories. While it is always best to err on the side of truth, sometimes we are driven to reshape unhappy experiences. To find a smidgeon of the positive in such experiences as trauma from childhood, the pain of infidelity, the sadness of loss – can be life preserving.
And keep in mind that even what appears to be the perfect life hits bumps in the road that may need a bit of reflection.
Stop the blame, change the attitude
John Sanford, in his book “Healing and Wholeness,” essentially says: “Our life must have a story in order for us to be whole. This means we must come up against something; otherwise a story cannot take place.”
We cannot change our past. But if we stop blaming mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, ex-spouses or former lovers, we can design our future. Fear and anger keep us entrapped depriving us of the good life.
The family drama
Recently I came across a book by Maggie Scarf , a former colleague: Intimate Worlds: How Families Thrive and Why They Fail - Amazon. She captures the reality of families in a way that makes us squirm. Families can be a judgmental group.
She says: “I was finding each family’s tales of the past, as well as the dilemmas they are struggling with currently, intensely dramatic and compelling. And how could they not be considering that the dramas of families – which have to do with loving, losing, power, intimacy, conflict, and the pressure of the past to reassert itself in the present?”
It seems there is no ideal particularly in families in which one member has a hidden agenda even if she or he is unaware of their need to ignore problems in their own lives by obsessing on the needs of another. It makes them feel self-righteous and can make us very angry. How do we handle it?
3 secrets to rewriting your story
Change is difficult. But in reality it is a matter of a change in attitude that recasts “I’ll never forgive” or “I’m stuck with who I am,” into a new mold. The secret is to avoid the red flags of negativism.
Review your actual growing up story or stories of past loves — no embellishments. Then express gratitude even for the tough times because you made it through.
Retell your story to yourself as victim. You can’t find love because of your father. You are stingy with affection because of your mother. You always look for the wrong type of man because of your first boyfriend. Or you have a man who seems to be right, but he never listens to you.
If you retell the story without blaming someone else for your behavior, will you still have a story to tell?
Rewrite your story from a different perspective. We always remember a story a little differently than the way it originally happened. Why not remember your story in a way that empowers you?
Put a new twist on words attributed to Mark Twain: “The older I get the more clearly I remember things that never happened.”
Perhaps, the older I get the more I am able to put a positive spin on negative events and embrace happiness. Does it work? Try it and see for yourself.
Copyright 2012 Rita Watson / All Rights Reserved
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