Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Tell me your story

How do you frame your stories? In conversation, I mean, not Instagram. Do you lead with the positive or has the negative become your narrative? Do you ever think about the other person and what effect your story has on them? Do they walk away lighter or burdened? What were you seeking in return for your tale? Empathy? Guidance? Confirmation? I ask only because I had the most insightful, impromptu coffee yesterday with a very wise neighbour who told me a tale, and then retold the tale with a different lens, and did the same again for the lives of two others. As she said, we've all had things happen in our lives, but it's how you choose to tell it to others that counts. And it made me pause. This is one of her tales.

Tale 1:
I had an awful childhood. My father died when I was 8 and I was sent to boarding school. No one told me that my mother had remarried until I was driven home to a strange flat in London because our large family home had been sold. My mother then separated from my stepfather and we had no money, so I had to give up school at 16 to work.

Tale 2:
I grew up in a large house with staff and ponies and had the loveliest childhood. Sadly my father died when I was 8, but I was lucky enough to be sent to a top notch boarding school. My mother remarried, he was a consultant, and we went to live in London, staying in 5* hotels all over the world. When I finished school, I became a model and lived in London. It was so much fun.

It's so easy to lead with the negative, to get that immediate hit of sympathy, but have you ever considered the long term effect? For you? For others? Does it subconsciously colour your daily outlook? Has the story changed incrementally, unintentionally, each time you tell it? Can you remember the original version? I'm guilty of hamming up the negative for a bit of drama, but I also know how draining it can be to listen to the same story time and again where the storyteller doesn't seem able to move on. Don't get me wrong. It's good to get things off our chest, a problem shared is most definitely a problem halved, and it's good to be a sympathetic listener. But how different might your story be with a rosier lens? Could reframing put a spring in your step?

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this is such an interesting way of looking at things. Definitely something I will consider when telling my story to people.