December 10, 2020

“Not This Story Again…”

Have any of you had the experience of hearing a colleague or loved one launch into a story you have heard them tell many, many times?

In these moments—if your reaction is anything like my own—it’s possible your (hopefully internal) dialogue is,

“Not this story again…”

Alternatively, have you ever had someone ask you about a person/situation from your past that jump starts a story you have told more than a few times?

I know I have.

These days, when this happens, what I am trying to notice is if there is any part of my brain that sighs and says,

“Not this story again…”

Why am I working toward this awareness?

Because I’ve been finding that when I can tell a story from ‘auto-pilot’ its usefulness is generally long past: I have learned the lesson; I have moved on from the grievance; I am bored by the outcome.

And if that is the case, why am I telling it?

Laziness… habit… lack of critical thinking?

Not a terrific list.

Now this is not the case with every story you hear – or tell—over and over. Sometimes these stories still give you, or the teller, a reminiscent rush of joy/adrenaline/hilarity…

That’s cool.

But sometimes these stories are being told because they—or we—have not moved on from the anger/self-righteousness/self-pity experienced in that moment.

This is more disruptive.

Why am I asking you to notice the stories you might be telling—and retelling? (And your brain’s reaction to them?)

Because we’ve all had an unusual year—a year that lends itself to stories—and I don’t want to get so mindlessly attached to mine that I drag what’s not useful forward.

The story I am telling myself is that you feel the same.

 

The above said, when used wisely storytelling has enormous value. For more on this take a look at “Using Storytelling to Move Others to Action”

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