We’ve all had some form of drama in our lives. I certainly have. A successful dramatic script for a motion picture requires a story or plot, which creates the foundation for the chosen narrative. A layered central conflict is required to create inner conflict in the main character – for instance, Batman battling some villain to save Gotham City. In this case, it could also be that Batman has always previously been defeated by this villain (so he’s insecure), or that the villain is the woman Batman loves. This puts Batman into conflict with himself. This adds layers of struggle and complications for our hero.
There is a demand for self-conflicted characters who can complicate the plot and add much-needed drama and suspense to the story. Just as characters are created by novelists and screenwriters, we also create our own story. We are the master of our own destiny. We may not know the details of our experiences beforehand, but we are responsible for controlling our narrative after each experience. How do we narrate our story without exaggerating the experience? How do we ensure that we tell our own personal stories truthfully? How do we avoid misrepresenting the situations and people in our story?
Difficulties arise not because we have a story – perhaps a very sad or painful one – but because we get attached to our stories and make them an essential part of ourselves.
For example, many years ago, before getting married, I was entangled in a six-year relationship which ended in a breakup that left me devastated. For the first twelve months, I described the experience in a way that made me the victim and the other party the villain. This didn’t help my healing process. In fact, I felt even more perplexed and unable to move on. The truth is that there was no victim or villain. Yes, I was hurt. Yes, I’d been cheated on. But I was a willing participant in the experience, because I saw all the warning signs from the get-go, ignored them, and went on the ride. As soon as I took personal responsibility for my part in the situation, I was able to forgive myself and look deeper into why I was comfortable with being treated like that.
Telling our stories is not an end, merely an attempt to release ourselves from them. To evolve and grow beyond them. We tell our stories to transform ourselves, to learn our history and tell our experiences in order to transcend them. We use our stories to make a difference in our world, to broaden our perspective and see further than normal. To act beyond a story that may have imprisoned or enslaved us. To live up to our spiritual and earthly potential.
How will you tell your story?
- Tell it truthfully to yourself first. Then you can give an accurate report to others.
- Don’t get attached to the character of the victim or attached to your pain. Your pain is here to teach you, not to incarcerate you.
- Write a new narrative with a completely different script, with the characters you have chosen to be in it. Accept ownership for your life, and only allow the those who have earned the right to be part of your story.
- We cannot wish old feelings away or do spiritual exercises to overcome them until we have woven a healing story that transforms our previous life experience and imparts meaning to whatever pain we have endured.