How do you share your story with the world?
An intensely personal question, without doubt, but one I struggle with regularly. 2015 has been a crazy year from unexpected surgeries, a falling out with a close friend, brutal weather and most importantly my search for purpose.
All of the things I mentioned above brought about some intense soul searching and delving into my past. It involved talking to countless friends and sharing snippets of my story with them. The past ten days I’ve shared the full story with a couple of people and the response I received was incredible.
They were blown away about how I not only survived the low points of my twenties but also how I came out the other end the person that I am. Their reactions set off a light bulb in my head on the true impact just sharing my story could have on another person.
If my story could have such much impact on a person, what impact could yours bring? What impact could be made on the world if everybody had the courage to share his or her story?
In today’s day and age it’s very easy to get lost in the here and now and make snap judgments on the people we see in that very first moment. It’s an everyday part of the human experience, but what if we knew their story?
What if every time we met someone we got a quick little download of how they became whom they are? I postulate that having that level of understanding would bring about higher levels of compassion in the world, it would bring about more empathy and reduce the feelings of anger and hate that are all too prevalent in today’s modern world.
Obviously that’s not possible in this world… wellllll not yet. Nano technology is coming so one-day maybe we can! That will be trippy… but I digress
The point is that your story provides context to your life, just like my story provides context to mine and if we knew other peoples stories that would provide context to their lives as well.
So there is a theory I am working on and have been using in my interactions with people over the past few months. It is one of going into EVERY social interaction with love in my heart. Sometimes it’s hard, for sure!
Just this morning I was driving down a road going about 25 miles per hour. The speed limit was 30 so I didn’t think much of it. This guy drives up behind me, starts honking his horn and gives me the finger…
My initial reaction is of course… What in the hell! But then I just laughed it off and said maybe he had to be somewhere important. Who knows his wife could be in the ER… if that were the case of course he’d get upset at me going 25. So I let it go. I didn’t know his story so rather than make one up that turns the guy into an asshole, I made one up that turned him into a caring husband trying to be by his wife’s side. It made my morning commute a lot better by not being angry over a road rage driver.
I took control of the narrative and I try and do that with all the people I encounter. Until the people I meet share their story with me, I can’t truly understand why they act the way they do. What I can do is decide my narrative for them until they are ready.
It’s not so much about making up the details of a person life, as much as it is making up how you feel about the people. If to generate the proper emotions you need to create some details… then do it. But don’t hold onto them as gospel truth.
Think about your story… how people would treat you differently if they understood you better? Take a few moments to answer that question.
Got it? Ok good… now imagine if you could understand the people you interact with better. How differently would you treat them?
Harness your answers and try applying it to all your interactions. GO into conversations from a place of understanding. Allow people to be who they are, be understanding of them and overtime they will share their story with you.
It may take a few minutes, it may take a few days, and it may take a few months. But once you hear their story… you will understand them and thereby have the transitive property of being more compassionate/understanding towards them.
It’s a little confusing… I know. The concept of creating a narrative so you can be understanding of someone just to get the end result of being understanding of someone. The crux of it is most of the time we go into social situations with preconceived notions and judgments of people regardless. They are usually created by the clothes they wear, or the style of their hair, the piercing on the face, or tattoos on their skin.
All of which are physical characteristics that really don’t tell us much about a person. In this day of hipsters… who knows if they are even wearing those clothes or items ironically… It’s just impossible to figure out a person by the way they look. Yet we make those judgments anyway. I don’t know about you but I’m wrong on my first impressions of that nature about half of the time, maybe more.
Yet if we just took a moment to be understanding of people, everything in our lives would improve. Life is hard enough battling our own demons. It becomes even harder when we have to deal with the judging or being judged by others.
Change the narrative; go into your conversations already feeling understanding of the unique person you are encountering. Having a feeling of love for them and the difficult journey they may have gone through to get there.
It will eliminate a lot of unneeded stress in your life and maybe just maybe… allow both of your stories to be shared… which as I’ve already mentions will allow you both to be understood!