We tell people and ourselves the stories of our lives-about who we are, what has happened to us, and what the world is like. What is it that makes us replay the negative over and over again? After all, it is possible to tell a life story, even a very difficult one, in a way that empowers us, inspires us, and does not make us angry or a victim.
Few people realize that the stories we tell about our past change our future. They shape attitudes and perceptions, influence choices, further actions that ultimately determine our destiny.
The key to walking through life without becoming angrier with each failure is forgiveness, says Tracy McMillan, author of psychological bestsellers, winner of the Screenwriters Guild Award for the best script of the psychological series. Learn to think and talk differently about what happened in your life – especially about the events that caused frustration or anger.
You have absolute power over your story. No doubt other people will try to convince you to accept their version of what happened, but the choice is yours. Tracy McMillan tells how it happened in her life.
MY LIFE STORY (SCENARIO #1)
“I was raised by foster parents. Before I started creating my own life story, it looked something like this. I was born. My mom, Linda, abandoned me. My dad, Freddie, went to prison. And I went through a succession of foster homes until I finally settled down with a good family, where I lived for four years.
Then my dad came back, claimed me, and took me away from that family to live with him and his girlfriend. Soon after that he disappeared again, and I stayed with his girlfriend until I was 18, and living with her was not easy at all.
My perception of life was dramatic and consistent with the version of my story that developed after high school: “Tracy M.: unwanted, unloved and lonely.”
I was terribly angry with Linda and Freddie. They were nightmare parents and treated me rudely and unfairly. Right?
No, wrong. Because that’s just one point of view on the facts. Here is a recycled version of my story.
MY LIFE STORY (SCENARIO #2)
“I was born. When I grew up a little bit, I looked at my father, who was, to put it bluntly, very drunk, at my mother, who had abandoned me, and I said to myself, ‘Surely I can do better than them.’
I struggled and after several unsuccessful attempts, from which I learned a lot about life and people, I still managed to get into the very nice family of a Lutheran priest.
He had a wife and five children, and there I got a glimpse of middle-class life, went to a fine private school, and lived the kind of quiet, stable life I would never have had with Linda and Freddie.
Before I would have teenage disagreements with these wonderful but extremely conservative people, I found myself in the home of a feminist who introduced me to a lot of radical ideas and the art world and – perhaps most importantly – let me watch hours of television, thus setting the stage for my current career as a writer who writes for television.”
Guess which version of this movie has a happy ending?
Start thinking about how to rewrite your life story. Pay attention to the episodes where you’ve experienced a lot of pain: a nasty relationship breakup after college, a long streak of loneliness as you hit your 30s, a stupid childhood, a major disappointment in your career.
Try to look at all the events differently: you may be able to shift focus and not have more severe unpleasant experiences. And if in doing so you can laugh – all the better. Let yourself be creative!
This is your life, and you only live once. Change the way you look at your story, rewrite your life scenario so that it fills you with inspiration and new strength. Underlying anger will naturally disappear.
If old experiences come back again, try to ignore them – it’s important for you to create a new story. It’s not easy at first, but soon you’ll notice that positive changes begin to occur in your life.