“It’s important that we share our experience with other people. Your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission to acknowledge their own story.” Iyanla Vanzant
When someone asked me what my story was three years ago, it always felt like a big slap in the face since I had no idea what it means and I felt embarrassed because I didn’t know the answer. “What do they mean by “the story”?”
Since everyone around me seemed to have it figured out, I decided that I will find my answer to this question no matter how unnecessary I thought it was at that time. After months of reading, learning and finding out, I began to understand everything that has ever happened to me. And to make it even better, I didn’t only find my answers; I saw the reasons and the benefit in every single painful and difficult situation I have ever experienced. I finally understood my story.
Often when I ask people what their story is, they get hesitant to talk about it because they aren’t sure of what to say. I am here to tell you that’s okay. Understanding your story isn’t something you just know on the spot. It is a topic you need to think through. Your story is one of the most important tools you can use to build an amazing and powerful life.
There is a power in your past if you understand it right. Let me share with you how to discover your story and use it as a solid foundation for building your future.
1. What’s Your Story?
Now, I am going to start with an example since I think that’s the best way to explain it. Let’s say that you were growing up in the poor family and your parents were alcoholics. This memory brings you thoughts of embarrassment. You remember all the drama and fights, sleepless nights, loneliness.
Here comes the big question. How do you perceive this memory? One way how you can look at it is that you still, even after years, feel ashamed or worthless. You think that you don’t deserve the good things in life since you never had them. Maybe you will follow your parents and also lean to alcohol because you blame them for all the misery and pain they have caused you. This is an example of disempowering story which you can change with some practice.
The powerful story means that you take all these struggles you have been through, and you understand them as the source of power, knowledge and mental strength.
Here is how you can feel empowered by your story. Because of everything you have seen at home, you choose a different path and use all your pains and hardships as a learning curve for building a magnificent life. You won’t drink, you will work with your feelings and truly care about your mental growth.
2. Forgive everyone, including yourself
For many years, I have blamed my father for a lot of difficulties in my life. As I am writing these lines, it is still a process for me to understand his actions and feel a certain empathy towards his being.
As much I didn’t want to admit it, I had to start the process of forgiveness. Not because he deserves it, but because the peace can’t be found in anger. My lack of forgiveness was also something that was interrupting my story since I kept blaming him. You can’t fully embrace your past and blame the person at the same time.
Before you can use the power of your story, you need to forgive yourself and others around you. I know a woman I guess that’s me) who blamed herself for staying in a toxic relationship for a long time. In the end, she wasn’t revealed when it ended; she was angry that she tolerated negative behaviors and didn’t do anything about it. This state of mind was preventing her from seeing all those good things she has learned and the pain she has endured. She needed to forgive herself to empower her story.
3. The power behind your story
In my book Courage Within You, I described a situation many of us have experienced, and I want to share it with you in this article. You can see it as a simple experiment.
“You are standing in front of the mirror, looking at yourself and crying. The door on the bathroom is locked, so no one finds you while you are breaking down. Your hands are holding both sides of the sink and tears are falling. You look down in the sink, then back up in the mirror, just staring at yourself. There are tons of questions going through your mind. “How did I get to this point? When this is going to end?” You feel desperate, out of control and hurt. You wipe out your tears because responsibilities are waiting for you on the other side of the door. They don’t care about your mental breakdown. You know you need to put your head up and do what you have to do.”
How did you feel after reading this? Some people may say that they feel the painful moment, maybe it reminds them of some struggles, but they also feel power and strength that they endured during those difficult times. If this is your case, it’s a good sign that you understand your story and more than likely, you will use it to your advantage.
Some of us may feel anxious, angry and frustrated after reading it. It means that we haven’t overcome the situation, and we haven’t understood the benefit of this struggle. This state of mind is interrupting our story and doesn’t allow us to embrace it fully.
The truth is that we all have been through some challenges in life. The only difference is how you see them and use them going forward. It’s your perception of reality what creates the world around you.
4. Spread the word and inspire others
Whether you get out there and share this knowledge about finding the story or you share your own, you will certainly make a difference. I have met too many amazing, beautiful and great people who never shared their past because they did not understand how inspiring and uplifting it can be for other people.
They felt ashamed. They felt that no one would understand them when in fact, there are tons of people around us dealing with the same or similar problems.
Share your life experience and don’t be afraid to speak up your mind. Your life holds real knowledge which can help many people. The fact that someone else has been through it can give them the strength and hope that they can endure it too.
Remember that your story can be the most empowering tool you hold in your hands or some devastating event which keeps you in the dark. Which one do you choose to own?