Have you ever considered what genre your life story might fit into?
Walk into any bookshop and you will see a range of different sections. History, self-help, romance, science fiction…the list goes on. In her excellent post on the Huffington Post, Kirsty Hanly asks which genre your life story, the collection of experiences that have defined you up until this point, would fit into. It might seem like an odd exercise but it can offer some surprising insights.
She argues that our understanding of our own story, the way we frame it, can have big implications for the way in which we see ourselves. By looking at it in a different light, we can lay the foundations for greater success and happiness.
Imagine two people that have undergone the same difficult life experiences. Perhaps they were bullied at school, suffered personal losses and were recently made redundant. One chooses to frame their story in such a way that leads them to believe that they are a deadweight, that everything they do comes to nothing and that they have no chance of future success. The other chooses to be grateful for these difficult experiences in the belief that they will ultimately make them stronger. You can see how those two different mindsets would affect their future behaviour.
The key is in understanding that the past isn’t just the past. Rather, as Kirsty outlines, it is “ an incredible playground of exciting possibility.”
So how can you approach your own history in the same way? What may be holding you back is your fixed way of thinking about the experiences you have undergone. When you realize that the emotional weight of the past is little more than your own experience of it, you can change the way you relate to it, consciously choosing a different narrative.
That negative childhood experience becomes an opportunity for later growth. That mistake that lost you your job becomes an experience from which you learned how to be better at what you do.
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