Have you ever felt trapped? For me, this image seems to get at something.
Have you ever done something you didn’t want to? What about the day you spent doing things for other people without having a minute to yourself? How did that feel?
If I imagine that place, I get a sense of my blood, rushing around my body. I’m on the cusp of being out of breath. The thought of taking a pause has the same feeling of catastrophe as if I suddenly stopped running on a treadmill and went somersaulting backwards.
I used to think this was ‘normal’?
One of the main culprits in my big-time delusion was a guy named STORY.
STORY is such a powerful area to do personal work in. I can't tell you how much it has freed me. Well, actually, I can - and sorry, but I can't shut up about it!!
Getting to grips with story can enable you to make big shifts in your life. Yay.
(Disclaimer: Yes, I'm a Life Coach. No, my life is not perfect.)
So, what do I mean by STORY, anyway?
Do the words, ‘Once upon a time’ mean anything to you?
Whether my clients are avid readers or not, they all know at least one story. Let’s take Snow White – forever immortalised in the plight of how crappy it is to have a stepmother who wants you dead.
Does the story every change?
It may be that you don’t recall all the names of the dwarfs, but there are always seven of them. Snow White never fails to fall for her stepmother’s disguise and eat the poisoned apple. Duh! She is destined to live the same cycle of events, for as long as we keep telling the story in the same way. It's the same with our lives. What story do you keep telling about yourself? I used to love the one about me where I'm drunk on a riverbed, and trying to get my trousers off, but somehow I can't and the boy I'm with is getting antsy, so eventually I stand up and say: finish it yourself and when I walk away I feel so bad.
Does Snow White enjoy it, when the poisoned apple burns her throat? I suspect not, but that’s how the story is told. Over and over. She relives that poisoning every time she tells the story.
The same goes for us.
And then what happens, is that we can't tell the difference between the story in our head and the one that's going on around us.
Do you enjoy it, say, when you get a text from a guy you met at a party who you weren’t remotely interested in, asking if you want to meet for coffee? Does it feel fantastic to worry about replying; or not replying?
I recall situations like this: saying, ‘yes’ (when I really wanted to say, ‘no’) because I felt guilty.
Well, yeah, because I shouldn’t have given him my number.
And, why did you give him your number?
Well, I guess I felt guilty.
Yeah, I mean, he asked, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings…
Okay, let me get this right – because you didn’t want to hurt the feelings of a guy you met at a party, whom you have no interest in, you decided to hurt your own instead?
When we are taking part in STORY we behave in a way that does not serve us, and makes little sense. It’s as if there is a narrator, beyond us, writing a path that we are powerless to avoid. I always end up on the river bank, trying to have sex with a guy who looks like a gnome! It makes no sense, and yet I'm doing it.
And that narrator is saying in my mind, ‘and she then gives him her number, because he is a sorry sort of chap, and it would be cruel to hurt him, and somehow she can't help it.’
Through Creative Coaching, we learn to become aware of the moments that STORY has taken over. The clue are those times we act out of discomfort, or guilt.
I love helping my clients to spot the narratives that they are playing out, and to write a new storyline, the one where the heroine says, ‘actually, I’d rather not give out my number thanks.’ And the sorry sort of chap walks away thinking, ‘wow, I’d like to have guts like that, one day.’
Next time you feel those sensations of discomfort, ask yourself, ‘if I’m the only one who can write my life – how do I really want this to pan out?’
Want to dip your toe into the lake of Creative Coaching? Join me on the 19th July for my free, monthly Creative Coaching event. This month, I am joined by the insightful writer and journalist Chris Power as we shine the light on the Inner Critic and start to re-write the dialogue in our minds.
You may even feel like jumping in and booking a chat.
Either way, I hope I've given you something to think about.