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Is the sign too light?In the face of tragedies, stressful times, and confusion, how do we move forward? When it’s hard to just get out bed in the morning (or stay out of bed when we want to just hide under the covers), how do we find the strength to face the day? Sometimes when we are going through a dark or difficult spot, it feels like the world is mocking us with Technicolor visions of happy people, sounds of music and laughter, and the feeling it’s trying to “rub it in our face” that we are down and out. What can we do?

Recently, I received the advice to “tell a different story”. I’ve given it a lot of thought and tried it out in real life, so I can tell you, it helps. While it may not be possible to solve the problems you have or “cure” those dark feelings you’re experiencing right now, it helps to change the way you see things. Telling a different story is really about putting things into perspective, changing the way we focus on our lives, and choosing to be positive. An example could be Tony and Angel’s story. I pick them because you’re familiar with their story, but also because I believe they are living proof of flipping the script and turning a tragedy into something which brings positive results.

Let’s look at how this works. Tony and Angel’s story could be told as:

“Our daughter committed suicide. We are devastated. We don’t understand why she left us and we feel very sad, angry and confused. We grieve every day and miss her with all our hearts.”

That’s likely a very true version of their story they could tell anyone they meet. But their story can also be told this way:

“Our daughter committed suicide. While we are devastated, we have launched By Chaney’s Hands in an effort to help others. We are channeling our feelings of helplessness into a project we hope will save lives, educate people, and help heal those who have lost someone.”

While I’m not trying to put words in their mouth, I would assume this is also a fairly accurate way they could tell their story.

The origin of the story hasn’t changed, but the meaning has. There’s a shift to looking at the positive, looking at where they are going instead of staying stuck in what has happened. How can you shift your story? How can you change the focus from what was or what is into what’s coming or what you’re doing to move forward? This is a simple exercise, but shifting your perspective can make a huge change in how you feel, how others respond to you, and how you can get to a different place. So, what’s your story?

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