All writing is telling a story.  We tell stories about people.  Whether it’s an aging rock star in a parallel universe, the only fertile man left on Earth, or a girl who’s actually 300 years old.

Even when we’re writing about green energy, it’s a story of how that affects people’s lives.  There’s a story of fiscal realities in the experiences of a CFO at a corporate meeting.  If we’re selling a product or service, we’re telling a story about the benefits it brings to someone.

Stories are an excellent way to teach and illustrate a point.  There’s nothing quite like touching someone where they live.  When we tell engaging stories, we reach others on a level where they can say, “Yes, I see what you’re saying.”  Stories evoke pictures, allowing others to see what the writer sees, from the perspective of their own experience.

We tell ourselves stories all the time. When we exclaim, “Oh, I’ve never been any good at that,” we are just as much telling a story as I’m this age, have this job and come from this place.  I recently read stories about the Pioneer Women and what their lives were like. The stories their lives had to tell them.  What are our lives talking about today? What are the stories we tell ourselves?

I’m talking about the constant commentary.  Woody Allen wrote in his brilliant film, “Annie Hall,” in a scene at a party with the literary crowd. Woody’s character, Alvy Singer says to his then-wife, “I had heard that Commentary and Dissent had merged and formed ‘Dysentery.’”  Susan Jeffers called it the Chatterbox.  It’s that spewing of thoughts around how this one is that and that one is this. Judgements, gossip and evaluations of everything we’ve done or haven’t done, everything everyone else does or doesn’t.  Interspersed with that is the flotsam and jetsam of random thoughts, like to-do lists.  Emotions bubble up to sometimes yell at us (or someone else). Doubts materialize around whether we can or cannot do this because of this or that thing which happened before.  Doesn’t this add up to a story we’re telling ourselves? There are a million stories in The Naked City.  In a grand way this stream of consciousness story we tell ourselves everyday defines who we are.  We become the stories we tell about ourselves.

Don Miquel Ruiz wrote a wise book called “The Four Agreements.”  In it he talked about how we agree to buy into a belief system, a way of thinking, about ourselves, our community, our planet.  He explained, “The belief system is like a Book of Law that rules our mind.  Without question, whatever is in that Book of Law, is our truth.  We base all of our judgements according to the Book of Law, even if these judgements go against our own inner nature.”  You may always come from a certain place, your race and heritage may not change, but you can always change what you believe by changing the stories you tell about yourself in your Book of Law.

I believe in affirmations.  If you tell yourself a story about how you can often enough, with enough belief, you can.  I think I can, I think I can, I know, I know I will.  Energy and motivation can be had by telling yourself a certain story. There are those who have performed healings, done what couldn’t be done, overcome insurmountable obstacles, because they told themselves they could.  Whether it’s true or not, by the way.  It’s quite astonishing the things we can make ourselves do, simply by telling ourselves a good story.

The troublesome stories are the ones that don’t allow us to do what we long to do. The ones that scream we can’t from the Book of Law.  We need to find ways to break out of those laws.  Stories are powerful.  It’s easy to become attached to them coming out the way we want them to. There’s a real art to being able to move out of restricting beliefs, let go of the outcome, the ending of your story and allow it to take the shape it wants.

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