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Become the Director of Your Life Story

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Directors determine what is essential to bring life to a script – who will play the different roles, what problems need to be worked out, staging, etc. When you go see a play at a theater, you see that script come to life on stage.

A director takes a screenplay, and reworks or rewrites it as necessary to achieve the outcome wanted. The director knows the strengths and weaknesses of the players involved, and achieves a positive outcome by bringing together all the elements required for that desired ending.

Everyone has a story to tell.

It is their story, based on their life, on what they have endured, overcome, lived, felt, and accomplished or want to accomplish.

When we become the director of our lives, we put in motion the things necessary to improve our life. And, like world-renowned directors, we can open new vistas of understanding and connection.

When you are the director of your life story, you must know the other people in your life and how they affect you.

  • What is everybody’s role?
  • How do you define your role in your life’s story?

Then explore your inner strengths and clarify them.

How can you apply them to achieve the outcome you want?

This requires knowing what you want and being able to verbalize it.

How can you write a new script that doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the past?

Like anything worthwhile, becoming the director of your story requires time, introspection, consideration, and effort.

When I taught at a community college, I talked with students individually from time to time. Sometimes, they just wanted to clarify their aspirations or concerns so they could make better decisions.

Here is the story of one student who came to see me who was full of stress and apprehension. As a therapist, I scheduled some individual counseling time with her.

It wasn’t grades that weighed heavily on her mind, but the life circumstances she found herself in. She was struggling with the dictates of her culture, an abusive husband, and was feeling locked in a life with no future.

She was already stretching the limits of her family’s cultural belief system by going to college. She was pregnant and knew that her husband would be as repressive to her children as he was to her.

She was severely torn between making the best of her marriage, following a strict adherence to her family’s belief system, or leaving.

Leaving her husband would enable her to escape an oppressive belief system but it also would remove the traditions, strong ties and comforts that were important to her.

  • Could she be true to herself and still be a part of her family?
  • Did it have to be an either-or?
  • Was there a way to mitigate change without it shattering her life and the lives of her family?
  • How could she become the director of her life?

Since she no longer was a student in any of my classes, we scheduled a series of appointments to review her situation, putting into perspective possibilities. In the process, we clarified personal beliefs and core values, problem-solved options, and created a plan of action to overcome obstacles.

The first thing we did was lower her stress levels by accepting what was happening.

Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up. It means we stop struggling and resisting.

Letting go of the stress enabled her to focus on possible solutions. Together, we examined all sides of her dilemma; the expectations of her family and the life scripts dictated by them; clarification of her personal beliefs and values, and important traditions of her childhood.

She didn’t want to just throw everything away, but wanted to be able to reject the parts that were restrictive and potentially destructive.

As she examined her inner strengths, she learned to challenge negative thinking and replace it with more authentic rationale.

As she put the pieces of her life’s puzzle together, she chose options that would meet her needs and values.

First, she set some personal boundaries. She would no longer allow anyone to abuse her emotionally or physically.

When she stood up to her husband, firmly setting guidelines for their interactions, he revealed to her his own insecurities and together they decided to work on their marriage.

When her mom made discouraging remarks about not living up to what she had been taught, she told her mom, lovingly but firmly, that she loved her, wanted to continue a relationship with her and the family, but she could no longer allow old repressive rules to dictate her life. She wasn’t throwing away her childhood; she just needed to evaluate old traditions and values that she hadn’t been allowed to question.

At first, her parents were angry and retreated, excluding her from family gatherings and conversations. She understood why they felt that way. Her goal was not to sever ties with her family, but to build a bridge to a new understanding. She continued to reach out, make contact, and listen. And she remained in school and continued her degree program.

Later, after her child was born, I had the opportunity to visit with her again. She and her husband had gone back for counseling sessions from time to time and had taken some parenting classes. She had completed one degree program and was working on another. Life was still a struggle but the relationship between her husband and her had greatly improved.

While there was still a strain between her and her family, a new relationship was developing between her and her mother: mother and daughter were drawing closer together with mutual respect.

She had learned to put her life and problems into perspective, to look at ways to negotiate between the old and new, and to develop life strategies that allowed her to stand up for her beliefs and values while respecting those of others.

While there would be difficult and confusing times, she had the problem-solving tools to apply to each new situation. She truly had become the director of her life.

We are not locked in just one way – there are always options, even if they are limited.

We can learn to evaluate and choose more constructive ways of doing things. We can alter our behaviors and thought patterns. We can adjust our attitudes toward a more positive response to whatever situation we find ourselves.

We can become the director of our life story – the captain of our ship – the provider for our lives.

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