The full question is “Who would you be without your story?” I read that question, asked by American speaker and author Byron Katie, on my Facebook feed and then I read all the comments. I’ve been pondering the question since.
Understanding the term “your story” is my starting point. I believe it encompasses all the events that have made up your life bringing you to this current place. Those events shape you, create your belief systems, help bring meaning to your life, and inevitably help you chart a course for your future.
Without my story I don’t know who I would be, someone else I guess. I think the underlying suggestion is that so often we believe the story of our lives and act accordingly. Having grown up and lived most of my life in what is generally considered a black country, I remember hearing a similar discussion around black history. Why did black people continue to feel oppressed long after slavery had been abolished? The theory is that they should understand the history but not buy into the feeling of oppression or acting as if they were still oppressed.
If I use that theory in my own life I wonder how it would work? In the smallest of ways it means that if a modeling executive, for instance, tells me I’m not photogenic and I should be a runway model I then have a choice. I could choose to believe him and runway model, choose to try another agency, or choose to do something completely different. I chose university. The choice changed my destination.
I also chose to ride a bicycle. It too changed my direction because I had an accident that resulted in a body chronically in pain. My choices were now whether I live miserably in pain, in pain with a smile, or take actions to move away from the pain. The choices change my destination and they shape my life.
You cannot live without your story but can decide how you interpret that story, and how you move forward based on it. Jamaican singer, Bob Marley, was never a slave but he came from an island that was built with them. In his song Redemption Song he reminds the people of his generation to, “Emancipate yourselves of mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our mind.”
Believing that your story, what has happened up to now, is the only story becomes that mental slavery. Understanding that it is a part of you but that it can be left in the past becomes your freedom.
Will you choose a new path or will you stay on a path that is no longer serving you? You may be living in pain - physical, mental, or emotional – but you don’t have to be enslaved by depression, joylessness, or anger.
Remember the phrase - none but ourselves can free our mind – in fact, write it down, and set a new course for freedom. I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts on this.