How to Get Your Stuck, Stubborn Story Out of Your Head and Into the World

I love helping self-starters make their stories shine.

A flowing, confident About Me page is enough to organically grow your business and your brand. Telling your story is all you need to turn some anonymous visitors into paying clients. A story creates an emotional bond with people. It conveys that you’re human, that you care, and invites readers into trusting you — and wanting to work with you.

All, through simple words.

I help coaches, creatives, professionals and self-employed entrepreneurs make their stories shine online for all of these reasons and more.

But there’s more to storytelling than organic marketing and authentic relationship building.

There’s an art to storytelling.

It’s practical, human and visceral to tell your own story.

When you tell your story, you claim ownership to it. Even a story of hardship. When you start to reclaim the story, you take power back from it.

Your life becomes your own again — instead of living a narrative you never chose.

And how you tell your story is what your future becomes. It’s how you show up in the world. You can become more “Unapologetically You” from how you tell your story.

That, indeed, is why I truly love storytelling.

Today, I want to help you get your stubborn, stuck story out of your head, onto paper, and out into the world.

First, let’s start with how.

You can start to practice telling your story in one of a few ways.

– Write it out in a journal.

Making sense of your own story — for your own personal reflection and understanding — is cathartic, healing and motivating. Do it for you, do it privately, re-read it when you need to be reminded of your truth. Put no pressure on yourself to share your story. It’s yours, after all.

I recommend starting with the most private and personal method of journal writing, because you ought to develop a feeling of safety, knowledge and peace to your story privately first.

As you get more comfortable with the story you tell yourself, you can start to move towards sharing you story with others — which can be pretty uncomfortable, but for the best of reasons (being seen).

– Consider sharing your story conversationally with new acquaintances and friends.

Start to lead peoples’ perceptions of you through the story you want to be telling, and not the old story you’ve outgrown — or whatever one is polite, easy, passive.

This is a simple way to start sharing your story informally, and witnessing how people organically react to what you tell them about yourself.

What are they impressed by, interested about? What do they want to know more about?

Start to make notes on how others see you in the light of your new story.

– Share your story in written form on your website, blog or some form of social media.

Invite others to experience the totality of your truth, top to bottom, through written word. Put yourself out there. What story you tell about yourself is the story that others will start to tell about you, for you.

Be seen, and take pride in that fact.

You may even start to inspire others and uplift those in similar spots. This is how story creates emotional bonds with souls — even without ever having spoken.

There are 3 types of stories that seem most complicated and difficult to share.

When I do my storytelling work with writers, creatives and self-employed folks, there are three types of stories that seem the most complicated and difficult to share — especially for the first time.

Here those three are, and here’s how I recommend you tell them…

1. The story that’s kept you alive.

We all tell stories to keep us alive.

These are personal, private narratives that explain our existence to ourselves, and help us to keep going, day in and day out, in spite of any trials or hardships we’re facing.

The story that’s “kept you alive” is a survival story: one you quietly tell yourself because it makes sense of where you are today — it’s helped you survive hardship or struggles, or excuses why things haven’t turned out like you once imagined.

Why you might be struggling to share it: A personal story of perseverance, survival or overcoming a struggle or hardship is difficult to communicate from a natural position of poise, grace, confidence and professionalism because you’re probably still feeling that story — it’s still and always a part of you.

How to tell it: Write out the story in full without self-editing along the way. Pour it all out, and really tell the full story, once and for all. When you finish, fold it up, tuck it away, and read it once in a while to reflect on.

The more you read and re-read your survival story, you’ll be able to identify some personal or professional “values” emerging in this version of your story.

In other words, in witnessing your survival in your own story, you witness soul deep, guiding beliefs that are unshakable and nonnegotiable about your life’s experience.

As you read the story again, make note of how your life/work may be (or had been) clashing with those guiding beliefs that are so important to how you live your life.

Then, you can start to retell your survival story with the explicit goal to share your soul-deep personal values.

Some living examples: One year from graduating college and full of hope for the future, when I quit my job in 2009 I was depressed, feeling hopeless and stumbling through a total crisis of identity. The survival narratives that I heard in my head that “kept me alive” sounded like…

  • “This is the real world.” I was excusing my misery away, and in the process, eroding my values of living a life of purpose, meaning.
  • “This is the way it is; the way it has to be.” This story emerges with guilt for feeling like I was in the “wrong” for feeling in my heart like I could do more to help people starting today, than waiting 10, 20 years or longer to be a “real leader.” This indicates my natural value for service, giving, leadership, not to mention self-determination and self-activation.
  • “It has to be a struggle. It has to be difficult.” I told myself that life, career, business, work had to be full of struggle for them to be “worth it.” This survival story strained my guiding beliefs of simplicity, finding ease amidst struggle, and embracing more direct paths towards a more meaningful existence.

Avoid the tendency to: Apologize for honest mistakes, or not knowing any better; Display implicit guilt or shame.

2. The story that’s holding you back.

The story that’s holding you back is a story of your past that you still haven’t figured out how to tell yet, and because you still haven’t figured out how to tell it, the story still holds power over you (and keeps you stuck in the past).

The story that’s holding you back doesn’t need fixing.

It needs perspective shift.

You need to rethink the story, and articulate it in different ways (internally, or aloud).

That’s how you figure out, remedy, fix, make peace with, forgive and forget the story that’s holding you back.

I remember one distinct conversation with a friend-of-a-friend, “M,” more than two years ago, who was so stuck in a “story that was holding her back” that one question from me sparked a 45-minute explanation of what work she did years prior. We never got to the work she did today.

“M” was stuck in her story because she hadn’t figured out how to tell the story of her past.

Why you might be struggling to share it: Like “M,” you’re still trying to make sense of your story in your head. You might catch yourself quietly reciting your past-story to yourself in your own head, replaying turning points, big watershed moments, conflicts, even hosting imaginary conversations with people who were once in your life but are not any longer.

You’re attached to how you’re telling it. Stuck to it. And as soon as you start to express or share that story to a friend or peer, like “M,” you suddenly realize how this old, stale story doesn’t deserve the amount of breath (and thought) you’re spending on it.

The more you practice telling the story that’s holding you back the more you can reconcile your past and liberate your present to what’s awaiting you.

Tell the story once and for all by shifting perspective, and making a practice telling the story as a way of reclaiming power and ownership of your story, so you can start write a new tale.

When you get more familiar with sharing your past story, souls who may feel alone in a similar struggle can feel encouraged, less alone and motivated to overcome; so others can feel connected with you without ever having met you.

And remember to practice telling the story that’s holding you back…

  • Without apologizing for honest mistakes or not knowing any better
  • Without guilt or shame, because displaying those doesn’t help you move forward
  • With senses of ownership and yet detachment from what’s come and gone

3. The story that’s not “ready” yet.

The story you say isn’t “ready yet” is an undeveloped or underdeveloped story that, when told (and told well), will orient you in the direction you desire heading: where you want to go, what you want to do, who you want to work with, and so on.

This story is one that you’re not feeling “ready” to tell yet because…

  • You know you have to commit to it, and can’t (or won’t) yet.
  • You haven’t put the time and energy into deeply exploring, understanding or defining your direction
  • You’re stuck with the fact that, even when it’s defined, your “direction” will always remain unknown, unsure, unpredictable

A story or narrative is never truly “finished” or completed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not ready to be told. It doesn’t mean that you can’t start to remedy the narrative and “bring it home” in your words so that, when you communicate it, people get it, and you, and what you’re experiencing.

So far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as a story that’s not “ready” yet.

But when you hear yourself say that?

That is revealing something else. Something you’re stuck on, still learning, biding your time over, dragging your feet about.

It’s not necessarily malicious, or wrong, or procrastinating. Sometimes you just need more time and space. But if you hear yourself saying, “The story isn’t ready,” you may want to question if there’s some subconscious feet-dragging happening, and question if it’s necessary, or only holding you back.

In other words, reflect for the sake of self-awareness.

Then, decide if it’s time to define the story, shape the story, write the story and tell the story (or not).

If you ask me? Your story is always ready to be told.

What’s resisting resides within your head and heart. And when you start to remedy those — through the story?! — you’ll discover some serious life-changing stuff.

Six years ago today, I quit my job to begin to live the story that I wanted to be telling.

The story of depression and hopelessness was not the one I wanted to be telling.

Neither was the story of waiting for anyone else’s permission in my career to feel “worthy enough” to start helping and serving people — not because I was “better” than them, but because I was passionate to use my life to do good in the world.

I believed then (as I do now) that my words could help me start anew — that, by writing well and writing a lot, words could become my own form of quiet leadership, service and contribution to the world.

So I began to retell the story of my life.

You can start to do the same.

It’s certainly not magic. It’s definitely not automatic.

It’s a matter of finding the deep, underlying and soulful values or “guiding beliefs” behind the story that’s “kept you alive.”

It’s a matter of re-framing and making peace with an old, stale story that’s been “holding you back.”

It’s a matter of remedying why you feel like your story “isn’t ready yet” — and embracing storytelling to get your head, gut and heart on the same wavelengths.

If you need personal help making your story shine, take a look at my Story Shine sessions, a premier 1-on-1 working opportunity to turn your story into an authentic, emotional, professional, source of organic business and relationship marketing.

…not to mention, living your very best life, without apology.

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