I’ve recently been reminded of the importance of owning our story.
And by this I don’t mean the story you feel you have to tell people about your career, your CV, your business, your qualifications, or all the things you’ve done that have made you ‘better’.
I mean your personal story, the struggles, the darkness, how you transformed and the lessons you learned from the more difficult times in your life.
I recently wrote a piece for wellness platform Mind Body Green that didn’t quite turn out as the piece I originally submitted to them. I initially intended it to be an inspirational piece only referencing moderately to my back story with its original title being “Why Your Rock Bottom Is a Blessing”, but after several edits, they were asking me to go even deeper and make the piece COMPLETELY personal, since they have seen that those are the pieces that have engaged their readers the most. I attempted this with trepidation, because it was tough to journey back to that time of my life, and even tougher because I didn’t make a clean break from that lifestyle immediately, with my party girl returning to haunt me several times, but trusting in what the editors saw as inspiring, I got on with the final draft and sent it in.
But when it was published my stomach turned over.
The title had changed from my original suggested title to “I Had A Great Job, A Loving Boyfriend … But I Couldn’t Stop Using Drugs & Alcohol.”
That wasn’t what I was trying to say at all in the article, and of course when people read it and understand the message, they would have realised that the title was more of a tagline. But I suddenly had fear around the fact that perhaps I didn’t need to ‘drag up’ my murky past again despite the MBG team being interested in it, and I began to feel like maybe this was too much, maybe now at this stage of my business I shouldn’t have put a piece out there like this.
But then something amazing and unexpected happened.
I received the most lovely comments from friends, colleagues and readers who reached out to me to thank me and tell me how brave, honest, raw and relatable my story was and that it couldn’t have been more perfectly timed for them.
There I was worrying about how some of my sentences had been clipped and sounded too harsh from the edits, but yet deep down that didn’t matter. The story was being laid bare again for people to be inspired by and connect to and that was nothing to be ashamed of. So I realised I really needed to keep checking in with and owning my whole story, because it’s an important part of the person I am. And I’m grateful for it, because without that struggle, without reaching a point when I completely lost control, I would have never found my way to the answers I needed.
I think if we’ve been through a time that wasn’t our finest, if we’ve struggled or made choices that weren’t our most intelligent, we can often want to shy away from them, push that part of us back inside and lock that period of our life up in a box somewhere.
But in doing that, we numb out from a part of ourselves that needs to be heard, and we essentially deny our truth, which doesn’t really go hand in hand with the whole fulfilled life we’re all striving for and the authentic connections we want to build.
So what I’m saying here is, start owning your story.
Start connecting with it in a deeper way, all of it.
Be proud of who you are and everything you’ve overcome.
Because the things you think you might not need to say, the times of your life when you were in darkness or struggling, are the times that other people can relate to.
When we share our unedited story, when we connect with everything we’ve been through instead of being ashamed of our choices and transitions, we show our vulnerability to those around us and it’s through doing this that we open up a space for others to do the same.
If we have courage, we can motivate others to be brave too.
If we speak up, other people will be inspired to as well.
If we drop the shame and the guilt around something that’s happened, others will realise that’s its ok for them to do the same.
And if we connect to our deeper truth, maybe that hidden part of who we are that we’ve perhaps felt we needed to keep covered up because it’s not who we are now, we open up a connection with other people who have walked a similar path or struggled in a similar way.
And it gives hope.
An unedited story that illustrates transformation from darkness to light gives hope and inspires others that they too can transition out of a place where they are feeling lost.
So if you’ve felt called lately to start sharing more of your back-story whether it’s in business, in a relationship, or maybe you’re feeling inspired to write a book to help other people but you don’t know where to start, here’s what you can do right now:
Sit down for a whole hour by yourself, preferably in nature, without your phone, but just with a notebook and a pen and start writing your story using these four pointers:
- Write down your story so far and how you have shifted and changed your life along the way.
- Connect to your struggles, illnesses, and difficult experiences from your childhood and beyond and reconnect with the things you haven’t always felt comfortable talking about.
- Write down the 3 tangible results you experienced during the transformation or transformations in your life and what you have learned from your struggles.
- And then finally, write down what you KNOW you can facilitate for other people and how your story can help and inspire others.
It’s so important to start owning your story, because no matter what you might think, the world is interested in all of you and everything you know and have learned, so don’t edit yourself.
Sharing your truth is powerful and allows people to connect with you in a beautiful and authentic way, so I really want to know, what story do you have to tell that needs to be heard?