Whether or not you’re aware of it, you have an internal narrative that drives how you approach your life. It creates your mindset and thus impacts your thoughts, feelings and behavior.
Become aware of the underlying story you tell yourself. How does your story begin? What are the conflicts and turning points in your narrative? Are you the victim of your story or its hero?
The narrative you tell yourself sets up how you will approach your life’s challenges. For example, if your storyline has themes of perseverance, then you are more likely to press ahead, even if obstacles continue to arise.
Once you’ve identified your core storyline, consciously work to amplify its resilience. To be resilient is to bounce back when hardship hits. Redemptive narratives focus on the benefits imbedded in life’s challenges. Can you find meaning in the struggles you have faced? Can you see the silver linings that coexist with your clouds?
Bring your attention to resilient themes. How did the crisis create meaning, self-awareness, purpose, insight, community, deeper faith, gratitude and/or opportunities to be of service?
In my case, it was witnessing the devastating impact of mental illness upon a beloved family member during my childhood that inspired me to become a psychologist. My inner narrative compelled me to take action, to become part of the solution, to offer comfort where I can.
Rather than wondering if your life hardships have meaning or not, decide to create meaning for them. As the saying goes: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” How can your current challenge strengthen your character, your relationships, your appreciation for life, and open up new possibilities for you and others? By weaving these positive outcomes through the strain of the challenge before you, you can lighten your emotional load and contribute to a greater good. Be the hero of your story.