The Power of Owning your Narrative
It’s less an admonition, more a statement of fact.
Every day we choose the story of who we think we are, how we show up, how we are going to approach the day.
Often times those stories are unconscious. We don’t even think about them. We are the way they are. And yet, we do have a choice.
We are constantly telling stories through our appearance, behavior and presence. We constantly write stories about others based on what we perceive and already believe about them
When we become mindful of those stories, we can choose what stories we write, what we tell ourselves. When you choose your story you have choice, voice and agency about how you experience and interact with the world. You can have the impact on others that you intend.
We are constantly writing stories. Stories are how we relate to each other, to our culture within groups, to our communities. Some neuroscientists, especially those studying mirror neurons, now recognize that the human brain is in fact wired for storytelling.
In ancient times, stories were how history and culture were passed down through the generations. When hunters came back to the village with the catch, the community would sit around the fire and hear, and often see re-enacted, the story of the hunt. To some degree, that practice still happens today through television. The average American watches 4.5 hours of television a day, according to a 2016 Nielson study. Add to that reading, live theatre and movies. It is also a daily practice. We tell stories about our commute, about our kids, about our workload, about how the meeting went.
We also write stories about people around us. When we walk into a room, we are assessing the situation, whether consciously or unconsciously. Parts of our brain, our reptilian and limbic brains, are taking stock of what our senses are noticing, determining whether we’re safe, or not. We write stories based on those perceptions and decisions. “Uh oh, Jim’s clearly having a bad day”, we may say to ourselves. We are noticing Jim’s physical posture and facial expression – that scowl he seems to wear when he’s not happy, how he slouches and shakes his head. “Mary is clearly tense – I wonder if she’s going to report some bad news”. “Akheem is really focused and on point today – he’s really stepping up and learning to pull his weight more”.
We are telling stories too, through our presence – how we present ourselves to the world. Our face, voice, body, how we occupy space in the room all tell a story about who we are, how we’re feeling in any given moment. Others are paying attention, writing stories about who you are, what you think and feel, and determining if they feel safe with you, if they trust you. Maybe that impact maps with your intention. Maybe not. How do you know?
Van Ness & Co guides you through simple, painless processes to become more aware, more conscious of the stories you are telling about yourself and writing about your friends and colleagues. The result is you can make more informed choices, improve working relationships, create more effective teams and more easily attain and exceed your goals.