Change the story
I’ve always been a daydreamer. I remember saying to someone once that I wanted to travel, move to Wales, do a PhD and have kids. They said I was being unrealistic. I wasn’t.
If you can’t dream, you don’t know where to aim and even if you don’t get exactly where you think you want to be, you have still moved on and had new experiences.
Dreams are forward stories, made up imaginings of how we would want life to be. One of my less successful dreams was of marrying Donny Osmand. I was going to meet him in the local park and we would fall in love. It didn’t go much further than that as I was only about 9. But I would lie in bed at night, having read real books until my eyes hurt and my torch ran out, and then I would open an imaginary book that lived over my heart, and I would pick up the story from the place where I had left off the previous night.
Stories matter. I see it all the time with coaching clients, the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and life can be enabling or restrictive. I and so many clients wrestle with the story of ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘everyone else is better’, and these kinds of stories need the robust challenging that Albert Ellis proposed with his REBT. We have retrospetive stories about life and ourself…’I’m like this because of my mother, father, exams, weight, gender etc’.
Mark Twain said; ‘“never let the truth get in the way of a good story” and so many of our stories about life and ourselves can not be absolutely verified to be 100% true, and it seems to me that truth alone as a measure of a good story, is without nuance.
We know that the Greek myth of Sisyphus is not ‘true’ and yet I find his punishment of having to eternally push a big rock up a hill to have it roll down again, is the perfect metaphor for the Try Hard Driver that Eric Berne describes and so many of us recognise; we try, and try and try and yet let things slip away at the last moment.
When I listen to clients tell their stories, of course the truth about the past matters, but then we also need to listen to what is ‘useful’ in the story; where is the diamond in the coal? Even in the stories of failure and shame, of victimhood and pain, there are moments of power, resistance, courage and hope.
When I was writing Into the Woods, I listened to very difficult personal stories about domestic abuse and worked with the women to find a way to tell their story in a more hopeful way, whilst also telling the truth. The two are not exclusive.
I was talking to Manda Scott about her work on conscious evolution within her Accidental Gods portal, she talked of the need to create a new story about what the world can be. She has moved the idea about story into the collective. She used to be a vet before she became a best selling author and so has a comprehensive understanding of the science that is needed to understand the climate catastrophe we are facing. Yet she also knows, that if we only focus on what we are losing and destroying, our nervous systems will become overwhelmed with fear. Fear stops us thinking, creating, problems-solving, connecting; all of the things which humanity needs to be accessing in order to be re-constructing a more collaborative and regenerative way forward.
So she is imaging and guiding others to join her in dreaming a new way of living. She is working on creating new stories because she knows, that if we dream, we move, change and grow.
If you can’t dream, you don’t know where to aim and even if you don’t get exactly where you think you want to be, you have still moved on and had new experiences. I didn’t marry Donny Osmand. But I did travel, do a PhD, have kids and move to Wales. I took action, worked hard, but first I had a dream and we have heard those words before; Dr Kings words which changed how we live.
Never underestimate the power of a story or a dream.
To listen to my conversation with Manda click here or below to find hear about how she dreams life could be, of the sources of her inspiration and her determination to be part of a tipping point which generations hence thank us for.