There are people who say we don’t need to know or understand our stories in order to heal from them, move past them, and get on with what we want to do.
We humans are story-tellers and meaning-makers, searching for understanding, finding strength in knowing our stories and in using those stories – our histories – as a foundation for building a legacy.
The parallel truth is that understanding helps us heal. We have a hard time letting go when we’re baffled by why we feel the way we feel or confused about the ways constrictions are locked into our habits, emotions, and bodies, keeping us from doing what we want and even need to do. The meaning-making, sense-making part of us keeps circling back, trying to find some sort of rationale to explain our experience.
There are many gray areas in this. For instance, I’m not trying to say that we have to find the story behind every single thing that happens. That would mean, as the spiritual teacher Adyashanti amusingly points out, chasing endless irrelevant lint-balls.
Nor am I saying that we’re victims of our experience, constantly spinning on our struggle or our pain in what Caroline Myss aptly terms “woundology.”
And I’m definitely not saying that there’s some sort of grand meaning in everything (or even anything) that happens. That obnoxious boy didn’t knock our books off the desk in third grade because of some cosmic meaning. And while there may be personal meaning to be found (especially if we’re off track from what’s true for us), there’s no deep universal message in the realities of divorce, being laid off from work, illness, or any of the other painful (or joyful!) things that may happen to us.
Nonetheless, when something has impacted us deeply enough to be held in our emotional and physical patterns of being in the world, it’s worth understanding the story of our experience.
It’s through those deeply impactful experiences that we come to be who we are. Therefore, the more we understand the stories of our history, the more we understand ourselves. We become more unified, and we can present ourselves and our work to the world more completely and joyfully.
It wasn’t until I understood the story behind my own lifelong struggle to be seen for who and what I am that I understood why it’s so important for me to help my clients show up in their businesses with all the unique brilliance they have to offer. And that understanding gives so much more depth and power to my message, and offers so much more motivation to keep going even when I’d really rather take my book and go hang out in the back garden with my knitting and my cat.
I see this over and over again with clients, colleagues, and others who have tapped the power that lies in understanding the meaning of our core stories.
So don’t believe the people who tell you that the story isn’t important, or that it’s “just a story” and therefore shouldn’t be listened to or believed.
Discover your history, but don’t get stuck in it. Honour it, learn from it, heal from it if necessary, and move on with all the power and strength and certainty that gives to you.