Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Your Stories Don’t Define You, How You Tell Them Will

Sep 18, 2018

Ronan had been dating his (then) girlfriend for six months and hadn’t shared a huge story from his past. Not because he didn’t want to, or was keeping anything from her; he simply didn’t see the relevance.

Then she saw an image of him on a safety training video for the cruise line she was working for, and called him to say: “Hey - in the safety training video I was watching today, there was a guy who looked just like you on a sinking ship, helping passengers!”

It took Ronan decades to dig back into that experience, and when he did, he realized how much it taught him, and how much it influenced his life. He had decided to leave a successful career and business behind, and spend some time figuring out what he was really good at, and what he wanted to spend his days doing. That’s when the memory of his experience in a sinking cruise ship came back into his head.

We humans have such an amazing way of remembering things, and our memories are so dependent on our frame of mind, not only at the time of the experience, but also when we choose to tell the story. At the time, and for years afterward, Ronan’s memory of that event was limited to the story of the event itself, and he rarely shared it. Again - not because he didn’t want to, or wanted to hide it in any way; he didn’t share it because he just didn’t see the relevance, and he didn’t want that story from his youth to define him.

What stories from your past will suddenly make an appearance again in your life? What do you think triggers memories of long-forgotten episodes of joy, trauma, and grief?

Hearing other people share their stories always triggers your own memories of similar experiences, giving you an opportunity to connect with the person, and also allowing you to look back at that time in your life, and choose to process it in the context of your experiences following it. How did it impact who you are today? How do you apply that experience to current interactions?

Dig into those questions, and you’ll have more material for writing, speaking, and connecting with those around you.