“Making meaning of our life stories” – that’s my tag line, and it occurred to me that I’ve not spoken to it.
Our lives are made up of memories, which are in effect stories, narratives which were told and remembered. These narratives, created by us and others, in turn have created our life, in how we think of or remember our lives thus far. They give meaning. And these narratives or stories also in some ways shape our perception of how our life stories are unfolding and how the future stories will be told.
Ever had the weird experience of being told two very different stories only to realize it derives from the same event? Then you’ll pretty much figure out that these two story-tellers would attach different meanings to this event, and interpret them into their lives in different ways.
The stories we, and others, tell of our lives (and thus us) impact significantly on how we perceive, behave, interpret; and how we live. It is not just the negative stories I am referring to, even the apparently positive ones have their sway.
I grew up being praised for my academic prowess. I worked hard, put in lots of effort, and was relentless in my pursuit of excellence. They were, I was led to believe, the reasons for my success. I somehow did not quite believe I was intelligent, no matter what my successes. Without hard work and effort, I would certainly fail. Let me clarify – when I say hard work and effort I meant HARD WORK AND EFFORT, all the time. No idleness, I was told! I recall references to being ‘not really intelligent’ but ‘she works hard’. So this was one of my stories – which led me to a life of busy-ness, too afraid to relax, always vigilant, just in case I missed life’s ‘opportunities’. Don’t misunderstand, I do enjoy mental and intellectual stimulation, and I appreciate the work ethic my parents have instilled in me and the importance of having a goal in life.
But (there is always a ‘but’) I have now realised I am indeed intelligent and creative (now, that’s a story for another time!) – that I can ‘wing it’ if I choose to do so, and brilliantly if I may add. It’s such comfort to have less of the stress and anxiety surrounding a fear for not putting enough effort, for not having worked hard enough and fail. I am far from being a sloth, however I am less hooked on this story of ‘hard work and effort’, and instead realising and/or acknowledging other stories that I fancy. A bit of self-love here 🙂
I have many stories which I have had to fulfill, some of my choosing, some not – stories which require me to be the good girl, the dutiful daughter, the responsible one, the be-like-a-man woman of the world, the self-sacrificing mother… the list goes on.
Be aware of being stuck with any particular story for your life! It may serve others to tell a certain story of you.. be it of a victim, a survivor, the dependable one, the sick one, the weak one, the capable one… Will you let them? Do you know yourself?
So making meaning is twofold – to re-tell the stories of old in our own words; and to tell the stories which have so far been untold (or ignored) so they can become a part of our life.
I am conscious now of what and whose stories I am fulfilling… and I am pragmatic. One story for now – my children need me to be an available mother, and I do so willingly and happily. And I also know a time will come when this story ends. And I am also choosing to write my own stories…
What life stories have bound you?
What stories will you re-tell now in your words?
What stories untold will you tell now?
Which stories will set you free?
Wishing you discernment,