Written by Zette Habour
July 24, 2019

4 Ways to Rewrite Your Story

“The story you make up for yourself is what your life becomes.”

Joan Borysenko

Your eyes see, your brain translates, your mind perceives. Although you see things all day, it is your perception that gives your life meaning. When you perceive, you generate a meaningful interpretation that fits your worldview. This is most powerfully true when it comes to the story you have about yourself.

You create a story and that story is who you become.

For much of my life, I didn’t even realize that they were stories. My perceptions appeared to me to be just how things were and just who I was. Back then, my story told me that love hurts and that people I cared about couldn’t be counted on to stay in my life. Unfortunately, there were some undeniable reasons for these stories which made them seem permanent and unassailably true.

They were the best I could come up with to help me cope with my experiences of overwhelming loss and grief. There were no compassionate, wise adults to support me in dealing with my feelings and the subsequent stories I constructed to help me explain them. In fact, those adults were all struggling with their own painful lives.

Stories Can Change Quickly

My story changed in the blink of an eye. In the moments after my first daughter was delivered by C-section, someone brought her up to where I could see her. After days of painful, unproductive labor, an unexpected surgery, and a somewhat hostile doctor, I looked to my left and saw her for the first time.

Her eyes were wide open and what I saw in them caused a complete and earthshaking awakening in me. Inexplicably, I suddenly understood that love was a real thing and that the kind of loving relationship I’d been yearning for all those years was also a real thing. In that instant, my story changed. Suddenly, I was now someone who was worthy of feeling lovable, loved, and loving.

It was as if the fabric of my perceptions had been utterly ripped away and what remained felt like my true self. This awakening, while brief, launched me on a pathway to seek and discover what I could about who I truly was.

The Invisible Fabric of Your Life

It may seem like your story was given to you by your family, your culture, your school system, or your religion. The realization that you have the ability to choose what to include in your story of yourself may come as a surprise. You may even doubt that such a thing can be true. It was certainly an eye-opening realization for me when I learned this. Authors like Joseph Campbell, Riane Eisler, and Barbara Walker awakened me to this particular hidden-in-plain-sight truth. Once I embraced it, I’ve never looked back.

Your story may create feelings of pleasure or sensations of pain and it all comes from your own perception. While it may not seem like it, this is good news. Since you are the only person who truly has control over what’s in this story, you, alone, have the power to alter it. The million-dollar question is how to do it.

Think of your story as an invisible fabric that holds the stuff of your life in place. Unravel a few threads and a whole patch of it drops out. Imagine unraveling the strands of who you have been told you are and only weaving back in the ones that create a sense of empowerment and fulfillment. This is awakening to your true self.

Four Ways to Rewrite Your Story

“Four Rules For Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results.”

Angeles Arrien

Fortunately, humans have been seeking a way to awaken to the true self for millennia. Although currently society isn’t centered around becoming aware of and embodying this wisdom, it’s essential to a life well-lived. In her book, The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, and Visionary, Arrien shares wisdom from ancient cultures. The four steps detailed in her book offer a vision of a self-determined story and life.

The Four-Fold Way Principles:

“Show up and choose to be present.”
Be present and explore the fabric that makes up your life.

“Pay attention to what has heart and meaning.”
Be curious about what you feel and what it is telling you about yourself.

“Tell the truth without blame or judgment.”
Have a receptive mind and be open to the truth of what you are experiencing.

“Be open to outcome, not attached to the outcome.”
Let go of judgment about whether the outcome is good or bad in order to make room for your own awakening.

Your Life Is Your Art

“No great artist ever sees things as they are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.”

Oscar Wilde

Typically, the perception is that art is something that an artist produces. The reality is that those whom we call artists explore their process with curiosity, a receptive mind, and an openness to the outcome. Consider what your life would look like if you approached it the same way an artist creates.

Art isn’t just something you make and being an artist is definitely not limited to the realm of painters and poets. Once you accept the idea that your life is your art, you’re free to invest all of your creative energy into exploring it.

Therefore, choosing to become the artist of your own life is the first step. Whether your story changes in the blink of an eye or gradually evolves, let your artistic curiosity lead you into the nearly forgotten, utterly familiar story of who you are truly here to be. As you do, this story is what your life will become.

About Zette

Zette Harbour is a certified professional coach, a traditional, award-winning storyteller, a writer, and a speaker. Learn more at ZetteHarbour.com and MorphosisCoaching.com

Photo Credit: Brandon Hoogenboom, Unsplash.com