WHEN YOUR STORY TELLING IS TELLING
“Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.” ~ Oscar Wilde
What does it take to move past a lifetime of hurt?
Many of us have gone on a journey to forgive our past hurts. Be it to:
- Forgive my mother (Hmmmm… and while I’m at it my father).
- My 3rd grade teacher.
- My passive aggressive co-worker.
- The man who cut me off on the freeway today.
… To name but a few.
Forgiveness or closure, the term psychologists often use, describes the feeling of finality or resolution, especially after a traumatic experience. Closure is when we fundamentally shift our perception of the world and our interpretation of what happens to us so we can be free of victimhood. Without closure and forgiveness we ultimately remain in victim-consciousness. To forgive is not to condone the bad things that have been done to us, but essentially offers us the ability to learn and grow from it. My goal here is to set us all free from victimhood. Closure, in essence, is really openness. Most of us struggle to come to terms with the fact that life doesn’t seem fair. There is needless suffering because people don’t recognize that making peace with this fact is an unavoidable life task.
When we can truly understand that our emotional well-being does not depend on anyone else and that our thoughts and attitudes toward what happens to us and why forms our reality, then we have the capacity to fully shape our own lives. You can become the creator of your reality, you can free yourself from being the victim and the responsibility to sustain it lies solely within you.
Sometimes we get caught up in talking about the horrible things that have happened to us, and sometimes that “talk” is confused for actual healing. Sometimes the story is a mere recollection of your hurt and other times it is a grievance story, but there is a crucial difference between creating a grievance story and simply telling other people you’ve been hurt in the past.
Everyone has a story to tell… A “grievance story” describes the painful things you’ve endured but have not yet healed from, but every story is subjective. There is no story that tells exactly what went on from all points of view. Truth is completely subjective – there is no true story – only many points of view. Your story reflects your point of view at the time, and communicates a specific theme. In choosing your theme you can choose between looking like a hero or a victim. You also choose to describe other people in your story as either heroes or victims.
Sometimes the point of a story is to demonstrate how well you behaved, to promote your accomplishments and at times, it is to detail how awful things were. This story; the frequency of you telling it, to whom and the way in which you tell it, dramatically affects your life. Ultimately, we want to change the ending of our story where we become a hero instead of a victim… and the answer is simple, it’s to not get caught up in the content.
The content is comprised of each person’s individual story and their source of their anger and hurt. But because our mind stores memories in categories, it makes grievance stories hard to shake. When bad things happen they could be stored in the “Grievance Story” inbox or “People Do Not Love Me” inbox or sometimes we store them in the “Life is Unfair” inbox. When storing and categorizing new memories we open the box, but much like Pandora’s box, all the old memories come rushing forward.
I have a friend whose husband went through a mid-life crisis. In order to cope with her situation she found a group of women, in similar situations with which she could relate, some having worse off stories than hers. But sadly instead of fixing the issues, and finding a place to heal, their commiserating only perpetuated their belief that “all women agree, men are worthless and unreliable”. Although all of them were going through a great deal of pain, and they felt that this group offered support, all it really did was add more weight and gravity to the grievance story, exacerbating the victim mentality.
Remember: Don’t get caught up in the content. Double check the facts and ask yourself, “What is the reason for this?” Things happen to spur change and encourage growth. Forgiveness and closure are an essential element of healing and expanding ourselves as human beings.
JOURNAL: ARE YOU TELLING A GRIEVANCE STORY?
- Have you told your story more than twice to the same person?
- Do you look for other people with similar problems to tell your story to?
- Has your story stayed the same over time?
- Have you made a commitment to yourself to tell the story without getting upset, only to find you become agitated in the re-telling of it?