“Be the hero of your own story.” – Joseph Campbell
“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron
As individuals, communities, families, companies, and as participants and leaders, we all are a part of the external events around us which form our history. We are responsible through our own thinking for how we define our place in our wider history, and whether we perceive ourselves as active players or passive observers, the positive protagonist and a hero or heroine – or the villain. Our memories are formed visually by our attitude and continued self talk, physically creating and strengthening the dendrites. Our own recollections of our participation in our own history is wholly dependent on our attitude and thinking which form our beliefs of that event.
The BBC recently showed a fascinating documentary Prejudice and Pride: The People’s History of LGBTQ Britain as part of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act and the fight for LGBTQ rights in Britain. The programme explored different individuals’ experiences of personal, political, social and cultural LGBTQ history through their treasured possessions. Each story was inspirational and unique playing a valuable contribution to society’s whole history.
The narrative of this programme was a great example on how we can define ourselves positively in our narrative even if the external situation is negative. Our experience of our external reality is always malleable. How we perceive our external situation is always dependent on our internal focus – our beliefs and attitude that form our mindset.
Although several of the stories could have shown the protagonist to be essentially a victim – of homophobic bullying, AIDS, being sacked from the navy and schools or being isolated in society, the programme’s narrative ensured that each individual could present their version in a positive and inspirational light.
The participants presented vivid images of difficulties they encountered but they were able to explain how they contributed to different events in history – from taking part in marches, helping to create a quilt in memory of people who have died from AIDS, writing and producing tv and theatre shows, parenting, getting married, and establishing successful careers – to enable that they all become the heroes and heroines of their own history.
Tips to ensure that you perceive yourself as the hero or heroine of your personal and external history:
Be mindful of living in the moment. Mindfulness is being aware of your presence, your thoughts and experience. By consciously thinking about how you are participating in an event from a team meeting to a political rally, from being at a festival to giving a presentation, you can ensure that you are fully living your current experience. Be the participant not just the observer in your life.
Keep a positive personal journal recalling your successes, experiences which you are grateful for, and not what you have learned.
Keep positive mementoes from events and experiences in a keepsake box or case. Write down the reason you are keeping a memento with a positive vivid image – how this memento makes you feel emotionally, and why the experience was special. Write it down as an affirmation in the present tense.
Move your attitude towards the positive – your experience of the world is based on your own attitude. By consciously looking towards the positive in any situation this will enable you to profit from three important tools for a positive mindset – happiness, gratitude and optimism. Remember that you have survived and achieved from even the most difficult experiences in your life.
Strengthen your positive dendrites by repeated positive thoughts of the experience in your Self Talk. If you dwell on a negative experience, you will feel negative in the present moment. However, if you focus on your success, how you developed, gained knowledge and skills, and how you moved on from an experience, you can ensure you strengthen the positive dendrites in your brain. Every time you think of a certain event, the dendrite is strengthened, so make sure you focus on the positive experience to highlight that memory. Ensure you consciously focus on your positive Self Talk.
Use positive language to recall your experience to others. You can consciously choose every word you vocalise and produce as you think before you speak, write or type. When recalling your experience to others, ensure that your vocabulary is positive, you present your active participation, and why the event was positive for YOU.
We are all living our individual experiences, and creating our own version of our history each day. We may not realise at the time of an event just how important the impact will be, not only on our own lives, but on the lives of others and even society as a whole. It is our responsibility to be mindful of living in the moment, and we recall our experiences as positively as possible to strengthen our dendrites and memories.
As Mahatma Gandhi said:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”