I wrote my first blog post for Wellfleet Circle almost three years ago. It was entitled The Power of Story. It’s no surprise to me that hundreds of blog posts later, The Power of Story and writing for yourself as a way of self-knowledge and growth is still the focus of my work.
Whether it’s creating a road map for a life you love, setting personal goals or a mission statement to guide you, finding your strengths and building resilience or writing letters to connect with loved ones, your stories are a powerful guide.
Your stories matter.
My mission is to help people use their stories to find greater clarity, resilience and joy in their own lives and connect with themselves and others.
I do this by guiding and coaching people through reflective and intentional writing processes that unlock a deeper understanding of self. The result – more alignment, resilience, connection and joy.
AND I use these tools for myself as well.
I’ve written lately about struggles I’ve been going through and how writing has helped me. Yet even in those struggles, I find tools that have aided me to get through. I do this by reflecting on how I’ve successfully handled challenges in the past. I do this by writing about those challenges and looking for clues.
But sometimes, even with all the practice I’ve had, I struggle to see a challenge in a different way. Especially things from the past when I didn’t get what I wanted or things didn’t go as I had hoped.
Shifting from Shame to Strength
Early in my corporate career I didn’t get a promotion I was up for. I had been told I was a “shoe in” — I had worked hard, produced excellent work, got great reviews, sacrificed other parts of my life, never took a sick day — you get the gist.
And then the bottom dropped out. After seven years of hard work I was told, not this year.
And for YEARS after that, I thought I was at fault, that I had done something wrong. I wasn’t smart enough or good enough. And I beat myself up with this story. The pain would fade and then I’d fail at something and all that shame and disappointment would roar back into life.
But when I was training to become a writing coach I took a course that asked me to write a story like that one — one where I didn’t get what I wanted. The instructions were to write and reflect on what happened. The goal was to wonder why the story was important and how we felt about what happened now.
And as I wrote this story and reflected on it in that class, I started to realize that I was not at fault, that I should not feel shame, but rather pride in how I picked myself up and moved on. I’m not talking about being a Pollyanna. I’m talking about seeing the story from a different view point. After all, I’m still here and I have a career I love. I started to wonder, what did I do RIGHT? How did I get through?
I made a list of things I should be proud of — I had asked mentors and clients for references, contacts and help, I kept my head up high and didn’t criticize the boss who had undermined me (and other women) and when I got a new (and better) job, I worked hard making sure I made a great first impression. I even made more money and got to travel for work (which I wanted).
Yes, there was pain, but I had gotten through. And when I came across a similar boss in my new company, I reported the problem and asked to be reassigned to a new team, one which valued my creativity and hard work.
There have been many other times I did not get what I wanted. But through re-writing my story through reflection, I have identified strengths I know I have and can use. By reflecting on these times, I was able to get unstuck from the old story, the feeling of shame or hurt or fear. Writing this way made me more resilient.
Build Your Own Strength & Resilience
I want that for you too. I hope you try some of the writing prompts I share on my blog aimed at building resilience and reflecting on your strengths. But if you want some coaching and support as you work with hard stories that build resilience and joy through journaling & reflecting, then I invite you to check out my upcoming Write Into Joy workshops by clicking here.