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When we own our own stories, we avoid being trapped as characters in the stories of someone else’s telling. [Brené Brown, Rising Strong.]
How do I come out from under the incorrect assumptions of others?
By getting up from the disappointment, the disagreement, the difficulty, and continuing to do my thing, which is absolutely and wholeheartedly be myself in line with my values, so that I am breaking the misconceptions.
Someone – and you will all have that someone in mind – can say something about me because they are threatened, want to change the public perception of me, or want to damage my character and plant that seed of doubt in someone else’s mind. It could be by accident or design, but it creates misunderstanding of who I am, how I work, and what I stand for. How do I shake this? How do I bring the my true character forward?
Refuting each claim is one way to do it, but it’s tiring and ineffective. It means that you’re going in to bat for yourself, which is effective sometimes, but it’s your word against theirs, and an uncomfortable fight.
Actions are powerful. I have a lot of faith that if you keep doing what you do consistently, your true character and worth will come through. It’s a humbling act, to keep working and doing through misconception, but it’s honest and accurate, as it allows the other people the opportunity to truly see you.
What people think of you is none of your business, your business is just to get up and do you.
So therefore, if I continue to do me in every way, if I continue to turn up and tell my story, do my work, and live my values, there are now two opposing stories to choose from.
The shadow one, and mine.
Which do you think is going to be the most gripping telling?!
Mine is going to be a FUCKING BEST-SELLER if I’m telling it. 😎
Those who choose to put merit and weight on another person’s inaccurate telling of me are people that are not worth my time and energy.
There is no point in trying to convert them to my story, I’ll just be yelling into the wind. Better to keep telling my story joyfully and saving that energy for my work, myself, my loved ones. Because I’m not going to appeal to everyone, I’m not going to be a perfect fit all the time.
But if the values are strong in my storytelling, no one can mistake the authenticity, even if they don’t like the story.
And those who have the courage to examine both stories side by side, and have the perception to take value in mine will be converted, because I get to re-tell and re-shape all the details of me, my story, my actions, my life, my values in the most accurate, honest, beautiful, breathtaking, and authentic manner.
Yes, it’s annoying to do the U-turn and to have to do the redraft.
But I get to rewrite the script. In rising up and owning my story, I get to say it like it is.
And my god, when I tell my story and I am on fire with the light and heat of my story, it is a fucking magnificent thing to behold. ONE HELL ROLLICKING TALE.
Who would want the shadow version?
I’m holding the pen filled with possibility. No flimsy shadow story will have a piece on me.
And in telling my story, I get the chance to educate people on how to treat me, how to respect me, and how to interact with me, how to connect with me, and how to love me.
I am the teacher to others of myself in the world.
Well then. One serve of courage, please!
I have been thinking a lot about nuances in language as a starting point for connection, as I’ve been reflecting on my role in caring for and mentoring my Year 11 Tutor Group.
Listening to a conversation between the incredible Brené Brown + Marie Forleo, and Brené said something to effect of:
Don’t ask someone who is in suffering to ‘call if they need anything’. They won’t call. It’s an empty sentiment designed to make us, the helper + supporter, feel better. Ask them instead: ‘What does support for you look like right now?’
And my heart did a backflip.
I realised that I had been asking my students to “call if they needed anything”. I had missed the opportunity for connection every time I said that. I needed to change my words, and therefore my intent, as the beginning point for connection.
The sheer power of language is unmistakeable.
I am on a bit of a Brené Brown bender and re-reading her first book, I Thought It Was Just Me. You can really hear her voice develop over the course of her four books, and I am astounded at how her writing, her research, and she herself, have grown so amazingly and astonishingly in clarity and authenticity of voice. There’s an “authentic sass” about her, with total and ballsy humour, which I LOOOOOVE!
For me, this first book is a personal favourite. I’ll read anything Brené Brown writes, including shopping lists on napkins, because it’s all so good. This book is the most “researchy”, but I also find it the most nerve-wrackingly, exquisitely confronting and reassuring to read.
The stories resonate with me as a teacher; personally and for my students. Each time I feel myself “crusting over” from the events of life, reading or listening to her work opens the doors again, and makes me think. Also, when I re-read such powerful work, even after a few months of living + doing me, the words hit me so differently. Sometimes I read paragraphs that I’ve read three or four times before, and they didn’t have weight until now. And other times, there are things that are circled and underlined that I read again and wonder how they cut so deeply and resonated so much. I take comfort that I must have learned some sort of important lesson from these words.
Today, I re-read the opening credits, and they left me breathless. The moment in class which has chartered the course of Brené’s life work:
One day during a staff meeting, the clinical director, who oversees the therapeutic work done with the children, spoke to us about helping the kids make better choices. He said, “I know you want to help these kids, but you must understand this: You cannot shame or belittle people into changing their behaviours.”
He went on to explain that, regardless of our intentions, we can’t force people to make positive changes by putting them down, threatening them with rejection, humiliating them in front of others or belittling them. From the moment the words were spoken, I was absolutely overwhelmed by this idea.”
So am I.
Listening to a conversation between Oprah + Liz Gilbert this morning, and laughed out loud and was so affected by what she said about heading into a new year; the changing of the years from old to know, and how different people celebrate them. And I’d never thought of a new year in the way that she has described it in the interview, but I LOVED it. So many of us see in a new year with too much expectation tinged with regret of the previous one, and put a little too much anxiety and pressure into the first few days, only to relax into something way too ordinary later on.
How inimitably quotable is Liz Gilbert?! And Oprah, I hate to confess it, was a hard-sell to me, but I’ve loved her ever since partaking in Brené Brown’s CourageWorks courses online with her. Wisdom beyond what you see, and I’m so glad to know it.
New Year’s Day is my favourite day of the year, because I feel like it’s such a miracle that you get a brand new one. No matter how MUCH you screwed up, and they give you a BRAND NEW ONE every year!
Every year, they’re like, “Here! We’re just gonna give you this brand NEW one! It’s got no dings in it, no miles on it, it doesn’t smell like cigarette smoke, nothing’s spilled on it – BRAND NEW!”
And I’m always like, “I can’t believe you guys are giving me another one of these! Didn’t you SEE what I did with the last one?!”
I tend to go through each day and love all the tiny little moments in each day and all my special days just happen, regardless of the date or occasion. So New Year’s Day might just end up being “The Really Great Day At The Beach” that started later than usual with a lot of loud cheering, rather than the momentous and overloaded start of a new year. And the start of something might end up on a totally nondescript day, which I’ll end up treasuring forever. It’s the most resolute of anti-resolutions, and works just beautifully for me!
But Liz Gilbert’s summary?! So much better!
And here’s the interview:
Oh, I love this!
So I am in project “Re-Read All The Great Reads” (as well as reading All The New Reads in parallel, yes this is what happens when I have a brain again!) and this is first cab off the rank, first e-book off the e-shelf, the indomitable and awesome work of Brené Brown: “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead”.
And her work reminds me of everything I want to be as a teacher and person, and all the values + ideas I need to simply MARINATE in before I walk into next year. You know, good moral flavouring.