A story can be a lifesaver.
In Life of Pi, the protagonist creates an astounding story that helps him overcome trauma. In Heartburn by Nora Ephron, the main character — a food writer — uses anecdotes from her life to process her husband’s affair.
Some stories are cautionary tales, like The Handmaid’s Tale that shows how life could be like if religious concepts are misinterpreted and implemented as rules.
And then there are superhero tales that take you away from the drudge of daily life and for a moment, you’re living in someone else’s story.
But the stories that can have the most impact on our respective individual lives, I think, are the ones we tell ourselves. Even those on a subconscious level.
I did this because someone else did that. I’m doing this because I have no choice. I set out to destroy her life because she did something to upset me.
In all of these cases, the person telling the story is not in control, reactive, not proactive.
And if you’re the hero in your own story, what does that make you? If you were reading your own story, what sort of character would you look like? Who do you want to be?
Expressive writing can be therapeutic, especially if you practice self-distancing.
I’ve found that changing the way I tell my stories changes the way I look at the world. Like Pi, like Rachel in Heartburn, writing is how I process my life.