When we hear someone’s life story, a sad thing that we do is we compare. Sadly, it is a bad trait because you don’t concentrate on the job at hand when you compare yourself to somebody else. All you think about is how quickly you are, or aren’t, noticing results compared to the other individual. It’s distracting and can lead to subpar quality work. However, comparison can sometimes teach a lesson or two, which I learned in the past few days.
Recently I was hearing out someone’s story over youtube, and I confess, as I was listening to it unfold, I started to compare my life to the speaker. And mine was lacking. I felt like someone slapped me in the face (Hi, Will Smith) and said, “Hey, failure. You’re annihilating your time.” Lucky for me, a close friend intervened. “The Speaker’s life isn’t better than yours or mine; he’s just a wonderful storyteller. I’m sure he has problems as we do, only he just left those out.”
Then I realized, what if I told my own life story over the past year in the same fashion that the speaker told his? What would my tale be?
So I grabbed a Mocha Coffee with Almond Milk (I am lactose intolerant, you see), sat down with my laptop, and began typing. My narrative turned out to be more of a traditional adventure story. There was a great dream calling me forth and risks that had to be taken. My version also had a wicked witch and dragons that I had to battle. There were snakes, anxiety-infested nightmares, close calls, and lots of Marlboros.
Most importantly, there was history to everything. I must confess, this new telling of the tale of my past year leaves me feeling excited by my own life, proud of what I’ve done and what I’ve endured, and even left me looking forward to my forthcoming adventures. This is a very different perspective on the same events that had me disheartened before. I didn’t alter the events; I just changed the tale I told about them.
And I discovered that it is a great tool to reframe your viewpoint on your own life – to move from feeling oppressed and out of control – to seeing yourself as the king; the one others find to be brave and inspirational and sure. The Youtube Speaker that I was comparing myself to has developed a knack for re-writing his own story in a way that fuels his confidence and makes him successful, powerful. All the brain research and psychological studies over time show that what we say about ourselves, to ourselves, is essential.
The first thing to do is to uncover what you are concerned about right now. This is the first step to bringing the much-needed change that could eventually help in creating clarified thoughts and ideas. Write it down on a piece of paper. Believe me, this is an important step. Next, try to turn your situation into something in a questioning form. For instance, If your problem is something related to being late, Try preparing a question like why do I end up being late? Answer the question without going too close to the excuses. Remember, humans created vaccines only after viruses created problems. We created Nuclear Weapons after World War I destroyed Half of Europe. You will never really know what you are capable of until the situation demands you. So, any problem can be an opportunity to take you to extremes.
Revisit the past to see how you or someone you admire faced similar situations. That’s where the importance of history steps in. Once you’re able to find a solution to the situation, narrate it to yourself. This is a kind of storytelling that you must learn—narrating the tale to yourself without being overly victimized and solution-oriented.
This form of storytelling that I learned while comparing, well that could really benefit me as well. It is a craft I, too, can learn. Just as with any other skill, it just takes time and practice.
What is an area of your life you feel pretty discouraged about? If you were to re-write your tale, would it be? I challenge you to pen your own story of your life over the past days, weeks, or perhaps months. And please tell me what you find along the way.