How to transform yourself and others with stories
The last few days I have been feeling very sick in bed and it gave me a forced chance to pause. Unfortunately, one of the places I went while experiencing this was online and it was there that I came upon the kind of thing that makes me want to scream. I wrote a page or so of a big rant on how much I cannot stand all of these trolls here at home continuously criticising Irish individuals who are out there doing great things in the world and being successful.
The latest was the trolls getting themselves all worked up about Saoirse Ronan and a comedy sketch. SAOIRSE RONAN!!! TWICE OSCAR nominated Saoirse Ronan!!! Exceptionally lovely, funny, smart, talented and down to earth Saoirse Ronan! In my sickness, I was unable to pluck the appropriate state from my reservoir of resources and I just went on a full two-page rant. Then, considering my audience, I felt that you would be better served if I instead focused on something that might help you. The rant can be for another time as my therapy. This week, let’s talk about stories and their ability to transform.
The reality is that we all live through stories. A story can be seen as a sequence of events where a character goes through a number of events and ideally is, in some way, different at the end to how they were at the beginning. Of course, that is our lives and there are many stories inside our lives. Indeed, gossip is a form of stories that people tell us about other people, usually bad. Most of our communication with each other involves storytelling.
Now, in the business world, stories are quite popular. The reality is, however, that much of what is being taught in that world is not really storytelling. It is different marketing concepts that have been labelled story. Even with Facebook and Instagram ‘stories’, most of them are not stories. Most of them are just ‘stuff that happened’. A story involves someone who is affected by something that happens and it shares how it affects them.
In many ways, coaching will always bring people through the process of a transformational story. You see in a story that helps us change, there is the hero, the guide, the monster and the goal. The hero has something they want to achieve and the monster stops them from achieving it. The guide comes along and helps the hero learn what they need to in order to overcome the monster and so they apply what they’ve learned and they succeed and achieve their desire. Of course, few stories are this straightforward. Most stories are more complex. The hero does not always know what they want. The monster is sometimes themselves or their thoughts. The guide’s advice does not always seem to work. Using the advice doesn’t always get them the results they want. At the same time, that is exactly like life.
There is one key secret when telling stories to others to help them transform. You need to ensure that the person realises that they are a hero NOT a victim. So many people see themselves as a victim of their circumstances. The victims often become those who simply exist rather than living their lives and spend a massive amount of time explaining why it cannot be them. They also happen to be the primary candidates for becoming trolls.
When people get as worked up about people like Saoirse or even Conor (McGregor) and talk about them with as much anger as the real disgusting sexual predators and assaulters in the news at the same time, it is important to recognise that they are telling the world these ‘stories’ because it shows the world their ‘values’. “LOOK LOOK I DON’T LIKE BRAGGING. I LIKE MODESTY. LOOK LOOK, I LOVE IRELAND AND WANT US TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY IN THE WORLD.” Perhaps there is also a dark desire that would never be owned up to of resentment and begrudgury with a subtext of “YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN US NOW DO YOU? WELL YOU’RE NOT. JUST BECAUSE I HAVEN’T DONE AS WELL AS YOU DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING. I’M GOING TO BRING YOU DOWN”.
So, victims need to show the world their values and they need to bring down those who are doing ‘too well’. Perhaps it is all due to a need for others to look at them as better than they are. They are desperate to fit in. Desperate to be respected. Perhaps I do not have to get so worked up when I read their comments. Perhaps the reason I resent it is not just because I am proud of those they attack. Maybe the real reason is because I feel it makes it harder for us all to succeed when we know it opens us up to more people hating on us. But of course, this is just my own victim story. To become a hero, I must recognise what I can do and what IS under my control. In this case, what is under my control is how I respond to the trolls and that is by expecting it and laughing at it. I am usually pretty good at this and getting better all the time. *
One other thing to remember about stories is that all good stories involve plenty of ups and downs, plenty of turning points. Your life will involve plenty of good and bad times as you go through life. It is important that you see each and every one of those downs as a natural part of your journey. When you do, it will change how you bounce back and change how well you are able to deal with the challenging moments.
Transforming lives with stories happens when we offer ourselves the chance to see ourselves as heroes instead of victims and see the tough times as part of the trials that happens in all great stories. We need to see our own lives as the greatest story ever told.
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*Okay so a little of my rant infected the article. My bad.