I’ve been thinking a lot about my personal story. You know “the one”. Your story is comprised of the memories you pull up when someone says “So, tell me about yourself.” Or, your story becomes the memories you retrieve when people begin swapping stories. These are the memories that define you.
I’ve also caught myself retelling/reliving stories and memories from the past in casual conversation. As I’m doing it I’m asking myself “How is retelling this helpful to anyone?” Is it even relevant to the person you are today? Do you want to be associated with these stories anymore?
It occurred to me that my list of stories about surviving health challenges, disability issues, employment concerns, divorce---are both my badge of courage and my liability! Yes, I’m stronger internally because of surviving these things. I’ve gained a broader perspective because of my experiences—all of my experiences—the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. But I’m at a point where retelling them as casual conversation is feeling limiting. Does that make sense?I/we are so much more than our stories and memories. We’re works of art that are forever works in progress! For me, retelling my stuff, is like removing 5 layers of a beautifully crafted, genius-inspired, multi-layered painting and going back to the original sketch over and over. In pondering this and trying to decide if my stories were my wand or my weapon I thought to myself, “all of the broccoli you’ve eaten over the years has made you stronger too but you don’t relive that in conversations! What good comes from the retelling?”
This is when I realized my stories were not my wand. I wasn’t using them to create something dynamic and important. I wasn’t retelling them to build rapport with someone in the same boat. I wasn’t fearlessly facing them to make lasting peace treaties within my mind and heart. I was just playing a tape that was old and tired and had no purpose for anyone. Without realizing it, my stories were becoming unintentional weapons that repelled the very creativity I wanted to nurture in my own life! They were becoming liabilities!
I suddenly became grateful for this flash of insight. Retelling our stories may be absolutely right and eloquent when trying to build rapport with another wounded soul. Reliving the past can be a courageous step toward inner peace if that is the goal. When it’s retold with intent to heal it can be powerful. But when it’s part of idle conversation, or mindless complaining, or just a habitual reaction, it limits me. It stifles my inspirational insights. It slams the door on creativity. It ties me to what was and blocks the millions of paths leading to what could be.
Lets all consider what we could create when we consciously use our words as our wands of creativity!! Florence Scovel Shinn wrote the book YOUR WORD AS YOUR WAND in the 1920’s or 1930’s. She knew 80 years ago what we all need to remember today!!
Enjoy your creations!