When it comes to story-telling, there is much that we can learn from children. As adults, as soon as a story starts we are already anticipating the end. Movies and books end. The credits role, the final page gets turned. As a result, we tend to think the same of the stories we tell ourselves.
When we view our life we tend to look at it as a series of stories, each with its own ending. Strung together those stories comprise the life we have lived and experienced. However, in viewing our life as a series of stories, each with its own unique ending, we have formed each story as a complete entity unto itself. We are therefore not in a position to ‘alter’ that story in any way. The impact of this is that we then leave ourselves helpless in the face of the story. We are powerless to strengthen the impact of a positive story or to lessen that of a negative one.
Children though offer us a unique perspective. When telling stories they always want the story to continue. They start off with a specific story and plot line and when that story has run its course for them, whether in two sentences or twenty, they shift gears with the magical phrase… And Then. Those two little words allow them to string together two disparate thoughts, to switch gears and shift perspectives.
With the use of ‘and then’ they are clearly communicating that this one thing happened… and then… this happened! 'And Then' serves to form a continuation, each story a continuation of the one before, forming a seemingly never-ending, interconnected chain. The story didn’t end. Life didn’t end with the completion of that one story, it continues, it changes, it grows.
Imagine what the impact would be to the stories you tell yourself about you, if you began introducing ‘and then’ to the story line. Your old negative stories would no longer define you because no longer would your story end with that moment. Instead, you would acknowledge and own the story but follow it up with ‘and then’.
· And then… she decided that she deserved better and ended that relationship in search of better
· And then… he discovered he was more talented than he had initially thought, opening up the business he had always dreamed of
· And then… she determined to show them all just how strong a woman could be
· And then… he put the bottle aside, stood up and stepped into the new life waiting for him
The past will always have an impact upon us. Our experiences are there to shape us though, not define us. They need not hold us back and prevent us from living the life we want and deserve.
From pain can come an appreciation of joy. From being beaten down by life can come the strength to overcome adversity. You aren’t defined by the event, you are defined by the story you are telling. If your past stories no longer serve you don’t allow them to continue to direct your future. Define what’s next.
Tell your story, pause and think… And Then?