This one habit can easily disrupt your ability to experience daily peace.
It’s telling stories!
I originally hesitated writing this post, because the truth is: I love story-telling. I believe it is an art form. However, I changed my mind about writing this post after I thought about just how many times I have witnessed various types of story-telling stealing everyday peace from people I love. Let me 1st say – there are places where storytelling is an absolute necessity and even best practice. What I am talking about in this post is how you have the opportunity to can speak fewer of the story-telling types listed below – and experience more daily peace in your life as a result.
“Stories are the windows to our patterns of thinking. On a contextual level stories tell of the road we have traveled, the strategies we have used and the also the explanations and even perhaps dare-we-say excuses we have used to explain what brings us into the present moment. Deeper still on a frameworks level they also tell of our filters and how we organize our thoughts. On a body level – a story can also tell about the degree to which we can feel things fully. When you take the time to expand your awareness of how, when and for what purpose you tell your stories – there can be a whole realm of personal leadership development opportunities open up.”
After 16 years as a coach, and also remembering back to those times in my life where I spent a remarkable amount of time telling stories of different sorts, I have come to believe that every person has a choice or an opportunity to limit their story-telling. For example; telling stories in specific & purpose-filled contexts and as a result experience more peace in daily life.
How telling a story can distract you from feeling peaceful
When you tell a story, you anchor your awareness in what has already occurred (The past). This anchoring will keep you out of the present moment – and separates you from your presence. This act of separation steals away your full capacity to experience daily peace. When you maintain your personal presence, you connect with the truth more, and you get to have the experience that nothing is missing – and that is a very peaceful experience.
“In my 20’s it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend 2 or more hours nightly on phone calls – storytelling”.
Examples of the types of storytelling that can separate you from the present moment:
- Expressing your sympathy for yourself. (woe). When you tell stories of woe, you are maintaining a state of unresourcefulness. It would be so much better to reorient yourself to the now, assess this real moment and then start looking for opportunities to make things better. Avoid getting stuck in the past and instead, express compassion for yourself at the moment.
- Gossip. (talking about anyone when they are not right there in the conversation). Storytelling about others may be entertaining, but it doesn’t bring much momentum or peace to your life – and often gossip can cause additional headaches down the road. Just avoiding this one habit could make a dramatic difference in your experience of daily peace.
- Mind Reading. Telling a story to yourself about what someone else is thinking. This act of imagination diverts you from finding out the truth and keeps you from feeling peaceful. Now you might believe that you know the truth, but it is just an interpretation. I have known more than a few people who thought they knew what their cat was thinking. Instead, get curious and ask those who can respond. If they can’t answer – you can’t know what they are thinking.
- Expressing disappointment in someone or something. When you are disappointed, you have previously set up an expectation. When that expectation fails to come to fruition, you get disappointed. That act of concretizing just one idea of 1 possible future sets you up for that peace-sucking disappointment because the reality is often not (or never) the same as the imagination.
- Giving voice to your regrets. Regret, a somewhat ‘unnecessary’ emotion pulls us out of the present moment as we tell ourselves about our disappointment or sadness – it’s one of those things that doesn’t exist in time and space – it’s just the story we create about it. Regret-proof your life. You will experience more peace when you make resourceful choices from the present moment instead of trying to do it retroactively.
- Sharing judgments (negative or positive). Drawing conclusions as a process in decision making is valuable – drawing conclusions for pure entertainment value is less so and can take away from your experience of peacefulness.
- Being critical (something is too [blank] ) To criticize something – you have to remove yourself from connection with that thing. That act of separating pulls you out of presence and disrupts your ability to access the calm that oneness brings.
- Making comparisons (something is better than or worse than) Similar to being critical, to make a comparison you must step back far enough to do it. That act of stepping back takes you further away from the core that is peace.
- Standing back and complaining about something (or someone). Complaining – is anger or frustration put into words. Those two emotions are very disruptive to feeling peaceful. Peace happens when you can feel the emotion, and the story falls away, and you can be in equanimity around it.
- Whining. Well, that’s complaining kicked up a notch with the feeling not as close to the surface of awareness.
- Blaming others for circumstances or blaming self for outcomes. To blame someone, you have to reject your sense of responsibility. Responsibility is one of those behaviors when embraced, can bring you a greater sense of peace.
- Recounting events. Sometimes it can be more peaceful just to say nothing and listen deeply rather than trying to fill dead air.
How to identify if you have been caught in a pattern of telling stories:
Think of a particular story you are telling, replay it in your mind and then ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Am I attached to seeing it THIS way?
- Why is it of value for me to see it THIS way?
- Is there a difference ‘energetically between this story and the actual event?
What do you notice with your subtle senses? Do you feel an emotional charge?
If the answer is yes, chances are – you’ve been caught in a place of separation and have taken yourself away from daily peace.
Here is how to turn that around from a personal leadership development perspective.
If you rely on one 1 or more forms of the above examples of storytelling, perhaps pick one to focus on as part of a self-leadership development plan for yourself and see if you can experience more peace by consciously altering your behavior.
What to Practice:
Spend as much time as you can in the present moment. If you find yourself repeating stories often as part of your conversations, that is a clear demonstration that you are not in the present moment.
- Practice expressing in a way that does not make a comparison or a judgment
- Practice only speaking from your experience – and do so kindly
- Practice resourceful behaviors that will bring you more presence.
How you know you have transcended the story-telling habit?
You can easily see the perfection in everything – and you feel as you are fully present. As a result, your self-expression will be more present based, compassionate and authentic.
We don’t often stop and take a beat to consider the ways we disrupt our sense of peace. Story-telling is one of those habits that can slip under the radar very easily. Fortunately, by increasing our awareness of our self-expression, we can lead ourselves better and set ourselves up to experience more everyday peace.
Which storytelling example do you think causes the most problems?