We tell ourselves stories all the time. We tell stories in an attempt to make sense of our world. We tell stories about our life and what we deserve. We tell stories to explain our actions. Yet how often do you consciously examine the stories you tell and how effectively do you evaluate the stories you see and hear?
After years of teaching and training I’ve come to believe the most powerful aspect of stories are not necessarily their literary merit, but rather the opportunity to learn. Stories may be seen as life’s metaphors. Deliberate attention to the way a story is told can be the study of life experiences. Narrative is a vehicle for emotional intelligence because it provides an opportunity for social, emotional learning.
Stories offer entrance to a new world. We participate from a protected position so that, when a character learns, we learn. As we analyse the characters in a story and critically evaluate the strategies they use to overcome problems, we learn new perspectives of our own situations. We may also see innovative solutions. In other words, deliberate attention to story offers an opportunity to practise the evaluative skills that can help us understand the stories of our self talk. We recognise our choices have consequences and we are responsible for our actions.
Find the message
Think about a children’s movie. For example Disney’s re-make of Cinderella or the hugely successful Frozen. Why are they so popular? Perhaps it is because their message is simple, beautifully presented and light hearted. They feel good. They have recurring themes and motifs that build emotional connection through a simple message.
“Have courage and Be Kind”
“Let it go”.
These movies use repetition, symbols and recurring metaphor. Disney is a master storyteller. There are many storytellers who are very clever at engaging emotion and sharing a message.
- Which movie, TV show or book calls to you? Why?
- How does this relate to the way you like to live your life?
- What can you learn from this and other films, shows or books you enjoy?
Your answer to these questions reveals tangible ideas about your perspectives and values. These perspectives offer clues about your perception of your place within your Story.
Are you where you want and need to be?
What will it take to be where you need to be?
Be Intentional in Your Use of Language
The language you use when recounting an event will also help you determine where you stand. Awareness of how language works highlights patterns in self-talk. Understanding language helps a person evaluate their inner world. This helps you function more effectively in your outer world. Symbols, metaphor and personification help you share complex ideas in simpler terms. Foreshadowing establishes directional markers that point toward a predetermined goal.
- What metaphors or analogies do you use?
- How do you foreshadow what is to come?
- Do you use words with positive, neutral or negative connotation?
What Story Will You Tell?
You may like to think of it this way, the stories you tell yourselves have the power to limit or enrich your life. They key is to identify which stories foster growth and development and which may be limiting you. The next step is to actively and deliberately phrase your story the way you want it to be.
When you change your story, you change your life.
Finally, remember, the core difference between a recount and a narrative is the Complication. A recount provides a sequence of events, a story weaves a shared experience by showing how a character overcomes a challenge. When you recognise the complication has a resolution, you find yourself with a plan for moving through life’s challenges. Rather than being stuck in a drama cycle, you have the strength to move through to your goal, dream or destination.
If you would like to know more about the intentional use of use of narrative please contact Nicole to learn more about our Storyboarding courses or Mindful Narrative of Strengths Coaching. You may even like to participate in our inaugural Is This MyStory Life Creation Course.
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