Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

3 Ways to Tell Truer Stories

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How honest are you about your story?

Sometimes we choose fake stories because they are easier. And to live in such a fake story, we have to lie to ourselves. But lies are only a temporary solution.

The Truth about a Dad

I recently listened to a Father’s Day message about how much a false story can hurt.

The speaker, a young man in his late 20’s, told us about his own father. When he was young his dad wasn’t around much. He was a truck driver and their relationship sounded like a weather forecast. This Saturday will be partly cloudy with a 40% chance of scattered dad.

When his dad was there they had a good time together. Hanging out and goofing off. Pizza and movies and soda. Fun. Laughter. That is, when he was there.

As the years passed, the moments with his dad became less frequent. He was never told, but he knew the truth all the same. At some point his dad was never going to come back.

At the age of 13 all of his pain culminated. He was angry at his dad, and he promised himself he would never be like him.

But then he was told the truth.

The man he called “dad” wasn’t his dad at all. His mother had asked the man, who was a friend, to play the role. And apparently his acting skills were marginal. Eventually his fake dad had to move on. Fake dad had to stop being fake and gave up the lie.

He had never actually met his real dad. He still hasn’t today.

Why His Mom Lied

Listening as an outsider, it was easy for me to judge. I wondered why his mom had chosen to let him live a lie. Why manufacture a story, a house of cards, that she new couldn’t stand.

The truth was bad enough. Lying on top of it made the story even harder.

I’m certain when his mom came up with the plan to lie about his dad she hoped to do good. I don’t think her lie was intended for evil or malice. She wanted something better for her son than what she could give him.

I am guessing the lie was told because it seemed better than living the truth.

But as truth has a way of doing, it found both the boy and his mother.

Why We Lie to Ourselves

We lie to ourselves as well, especially about our own stories. There is some reality in our lives we refuse to grab onto. Instead accepting what we want to believe instead of what is true.

Lying about our story is about focusing on the short run. It is about fabricating a better today at the expense of tomorrow. Now can be so difficult, so ugly, so painful, it is easier to swallow a lie.

  • Sometimes we lie about what really matters.
  • Sometimes we lie about what we believe.
  • Sometimes we lie about what we should really be doing.
  • Sometimes we lie about what we are scared of.
  • Sometimes we lie about what we love.

When we tell these lies, our intentions aren’t evil. We certainly don’t intend the consequences that follow. We are only hoping for something we don’t have.

Not telling ourselves the truth may make today easier, but it only makes the story worse in the end.

3 Ways to Tell Truer Stories

1. Understand How You Got Here.

It can be fun to focus on where you want your story to go. But it is also important to understand the story you have already been telling. Where you are today and how you got there is as important as where you hope to head. Your story won’t be honest until you know and accept the past.

What you have been doing for the past ten years is probably as important as what you want to do for the next one.

2. Accept Where You Are.

It may not be where you want to be. You may have hoped for something different. It may not even be your fault your story is what it is. But you can’t be honest until you accept what your story is today. You can’t make any changes until you acknowledge who you are.

3. Know Where You Want to Go.

To discover your path, you need to answer tough questions.

What is important to you?
Where do you want to go?
Why do you want to go there?
What is the first step you need to take?

 So, where do you want to go? What is the first step?

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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