When: April 9, @1 p.m. EST (5 p.m. GMT / 10:30 p.m. IST)
Topic: Owning Your Story
“When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story we can write a brave new ending.”
― Brené Brown, American academic & author
About This Week’s Chat
Have you ever wondered how ropes are made? I know how they’re made.
First, I know how they’re made because I’m just endlessly curious about all kinds of things. But I also know because I googled it before my husband and I did a gorge jump at Victoria Falls – I had to be sure about the rope because it was the only thing that prevented us from crashing into the rocks and the dark, swirling waters of the Zambezi river!
Do the Twist
Ropes don’t start life as big, strong objects. They start as fibers gathered and twisted into yarns. The yarns are then formed into strands by twisting them together. The twist of the strand is opposite to that of the yarn. These strands are then twisted together (once again in the opposite direction) to form a rope.
The counter-twists of the successive steps are what hold the rope together. And obviously, the more yarns and strands you use, the thicker the rope.
When it comes to strength, a rope’s thickness isn’t all that matters. The type of material and the quality of the material are also important. And exposing the rope to any form of solvent, knotting it, or using it against sharp edges will diminish its strength.
Now, let’s talk about stories.
Do you ever sit in a coffee shop and imagine stories about the people sitting at the next table? I do that all the time. When I visit new places, I see stories everwhere; tastes and aromas stir up emotions linked to stories.
When we feel that a movie or a book didn’t tell the whole story or had gaps, we feel disappointed. We don’t like the hollowness – the untruth of a half-story.
Stories are more than just words and images. Stories are a collection of events, feelings, expectations, information, and interpretation.
We’re each and every one of us living our own story. Everything you’ve experienced forms the yarns of your story. Gathered together over time, the yarns become strands and the strands become ropes.
Stories Tie Us Together
Everyone lives within a multiplicity of concurrent stories because we don’t exist in isolation. We show up in one another’s stories.
And together we create new yarns and strands and ropes with all the people around us, with the animals, the sky, our forebears, the unborn, the Earth and how we relate to it.
It’s easier to own the parts of these stories that we like, the chapters with good endings. It’s not so easy to acknowledge that we’re sometimes the “villain” in our own or someone else’s story – those times we’ve made poor decisions, or caused others pain or harm. It can be tempting to hide these chapters and not think about them.
But where does it leave you if you don’t own your whole story?
Understanding Your Story
When you hide the uglier part of your story, you’re not being honest with yourself about the reality of your life. If you’re not honest with yourself about that reality, you can’t take responsibility for mistakes you made. (In some cases you also run the risk of taking ownership of things that weren’t your fault).
“Owning your story” applies to every part of your story, every yarn of the rope. Acknowledging the more unsavory chapters of your story doesn’t mean sinking into despair. Instead, it gives you the opportunity to accept your imperfections, learn from your failures, develop your character and grow into your purpose.
It’s only when you bring the dark into the light that you can see clearly and start to make different choices.
Trusting Yourself and Your Story
Just like you don’t want to expose a rope to solvents, you don’t want to deny certain parts of your story.
One of the rewards of owning your story is that it reveals the threads or themes that run through all the chapters: your characteristics, values, desires, and how they inform your decisions – the good and the bad.
Using a weak rope in a life-or-death situation won’t give you much peace of mind, because you won’t trust that it’ll hold. Owning your whole story gives you back the gift of trusting yourself and strengthens your rope.
The wonderful thing is, if you can face the difficult things, learn from them and heal, they stop haunting you: you take away the sharp edges that fray the rope and wear it out.
After years of working with people, I’ve learned that sharing parts of my story can be the lifeline someone else needs. Being brave and vulnerable enough to own your story, and courageous enough to change, can inspire and encourage others to do the same.
Every part of your story that you own makes you stronger. While you can’t go back and re-write history, you can take more control of the next chapter.
And in the end the truth we all have to face is this: “Who you are is far more powerful than who you’re pretending to be.” (Christina Berkley.)
Owning Your Story
In our #MTtalk Twitter chat on Friday, we’re going to talk about owning your story, the courage it takes, and the powerful effect it can have on others.
In our poll this week, we wanted to know which part of your story you find most difficult to own. While only 11 percent of participants voted for owning their failures, more than 40 percent found it most difficult to own their vulnerability. To see all the options and results, please click here.
We’d love you to participate in the chat, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:
- What does “owning your story” mean to you?
- Why is owning your story a brave act?
- What are the consequences of not owning your story?
- In what ways have you invalidated or denied your own story, and why?
- Which parts of your story do you find difficult to own?
- How do you go about owning your story? What steps can you take?
- How has seeing other people own their stories helped you manage events in your life?
To help you prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse.
The Uncertainty Factor
Managing Post-Traumatic Growth
How Resilient Are You?
How to Join
Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat.
To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “Latest” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.