Change The Stories In Your Library

Change The Stories In Your Library

This week’s blog contribution comes from High5 Leadership Strategist and Trainer, Dominic Oaxaca.

Recently I was on a phone call, and I advised that person to ask questions if they don’t understand another person’s viewpoint or communication. I went on to talk about a theory that says if you ask someone “Why?” five times, you will usually get to the origin of the understanding. However, I also cautioned the person NOT to ask the five “why” questions in a row, especially to a significant other because it may irritate them and taint the answers in the process. I likened this type of communication to that of a 3-year-old who asks questions about everything (Why is that? Why is that? Why is that?).

At that moment, I realized why a 3-year-old uses this method so often. The child hasn’t yet created any stories. There are no assumptions, no suppositions and no inferences. The child basically has an empty library with no frame of reference. It’s at this time in our life that each of us begins collecting stories like books in a library in order to reference later. We also have no idea if the information being provided to us by any person is accurate. Do they normally embellish, exaggerate or just plain make things up? Additionally, we have no understanding of reason nor can we make any judgement of the reference from where we are getting this information. By the time we’re adults, most of us are walking around with libraries full of someone else’s fiction that we have mis-catalogued as fact. Some of these stories have collected so much dust because the books have never been opened or explored, therefore, never questioned.

In the past five years I have developed a habit of regularly cleaning out my library. This is a process by which the things that I’ve always regarded as fact are questioned. I ask myself why I believed them in the first place. I have changed my mind on a lot of things in that time span. I am also well aware my perception plays a big part in the stories I have as well as how I filter and use those stories.

Currently I’m in the process of deleting stories from the shelves of my mental library that do not benefit me. These stories might be true, or at the very least accurate, however, if they do not benefit me, there is no need for me to keep them as constant reference material. This is an ongoing process that will continue for the rest of my life.

Some stories are harder to delete because they are my favorites, and I have used them as a crutch for years i.e. losing weight is hard, people are not usually trustworthy, I am too old to start fresh. These stories hold no value for me and get me no closer to any of the goals I have set for myself. Sometimes I feel like a hoarder with these stories. The cleaner the library, the clearer the path becomes towards whatever outcomes I have set for myself.

As a result of clearing out my own library, I’ve become aware of the stories I have donated to my children’s libraries. I now know that I’m actually doing them a service when my answer to a question is, “I don’t know. Let’s find out together,” rather than making up a story of fiction for fear of embarrassment (another old story).

I believe there is a benefit to channeling that little 3-year-old inside all of us while browsing our own vast libraries. Then we will truly see if some of our stories belong there or not. My assumptions come from stories of past experiences. PAST experiences. It is possible that some stories are motivating me or keeping me safe. All I’m offering is question everything.

Until next time, be in the present moment and CHOOSE JOY! ~ Dominic Oaxaca