When we tell our story, do we portray ourselves as a victim of circumstances, or do we portray ourselves as the hero/heroine of our own lives? The ability to tell our own story directly affects our happiness and success, and our guest today is an expert in storytelling: Valerie Gordon, owner of career and communication strategy firm, Commander-in-She.
The stories we tell others impact the way they see us and the opportunities we’ll get, just like the stories we tell ourselves influence the course of action we’ll take. And the stories we tell others are among our most important tools for building and deepening connection with others.
Our past choices have created our present reality, so we should recognize that our present choices, the things we do in our current story, will influence our future story. We can make small changes in our current story to help create our next chapter closer to the way we’d like it to be, with more of what we want in it and less of what we don’t. We discuss my own story, and my pivot point when I realized that my story wasn’t unfolding the way I wanted it to and when I decided to take control of my own story.
Valerie believes that in order to change our story we don’t always need to completely reinvent ourselves. She also says that wherever we’ve come from and whatever we’ve done in the past (maybe a marriage or a job that didn’t work out) hasn’t been a waste. Instead, we can ask what we’ve learned from it, what we can take from these experiences, as we write our next chapter.
She talks about the multiple levels that are present in the stories we tell others. For example, if someone is complaining about something that happened at work that day, at the surface level they’re talking about the specific things that happened. Below that, though, are their own beliefs about why this happened to them, which is the meaning they’re making about it. And the research from the field of positive psychology is very clear that it’s the way we choose to interpret the details of our stories and the facts of our lives that creates meaning for us, and that telling our own story from a redemptive perspective as opposed to from a victim perspective makes us more resilient and optimistic, and leads to greater overall health.
Valerie is all about taking command of one’s story and actively authoring it, and she uses the framework of storytelling to address how we can examine our lives more closely and ask the important questions that will allow us to begin rewriting our story so it unfolds the way we choose.
To learn more from Valerie check out her website (https://commander-in-she.com
), where she blogs weekly and where you can sign up for her monthly newsletter or get more information on her group workshops. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@CommanderInShe), and connect with her on LinkedIn (Valerie J Gordon).
The book that Valerie recommended is “Our Struggles Have Purpose” by Shawn Elizabeth George, which you can find at Amazon (https://amzn.to/2q9P4DG
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