One of my favorite things about working with so many different women is hearing their stories. Who they really are. The ups and downs of their journey. Their hopes and dreams.

Our stories make up the very fabric of our lives. They form our memories, and they inform the way we think about ourselves today.

Much of our story is beyond our control. Where we are born, our parents, many of our childhood experiences are simply the hand dealt to us. And to be honest, some of us get a better hand than others.

But, have you ever wondered why some people succeed even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, while others struggle even in the absence of serious challenges? What is it that allows some people to rise above their circumstances while others can’t seem to shake free?

It turns out there’s more to our story than just those things that happen to us. There is a part of that we can control. We get to choose what kind of story we live, despite the circumstances around us. We get to choose to be the hero or the victim. Ultimately, we get to decide whether we are victorious or not.

Questions to Help You Identify Your Story

Before you can begin to make choices about the story you want to live, you must know where you are right now. But that can be easier said than done. For many of us, the script of our lives has run in the background for so long that we aren’t consciously aware of it anymore.

There are some key questions to ask to begin to reveal the story you’ve chosen for yourself.

If your life was a book, what would the title be?

This is a creative way to get beyond our conscious mind. It triggers our imagination and allows us to see all the ways that we are living out the script of our life.

If you were looking for your story in a library or store, where would it be shelved?

Remember when you went to a bookstore or a library when you wanted something to read? You had to find the right section to be sure you could get what you wanted. Biographies were in one section. Histories in another. Poetry on one shelf, short stories somewhere else.

Looking at the title of your book, where would you shelve it? Is it a tragedy? A horror story? Or maybe the tale of an epic journey where the hero overcomes, despite the odds.

Who is the hero of your book? The villain? The victim?

Finally, think about the cast of characters in your life. What roles do they play in your book? More, importantly what role would you play? Are you the victorious hero, overcoming the odds to eventually succeed? Or are you the downtrodden victim, falling prey again and again to your villains.

Begin to Shift Your Story

Once we’re clear on our story, we can make the choice to shift it to something more productive. We can choose something more loving, more peaceful, more fulfilling.

To begin, ask yourself:

What kind of book do you want to live? An adventure? A romance?

Who do you want to be? The honest, caring protagonist? The daring adventurer? Or even the victorious hero?

Think in detail about living inside this story. How would you feel? How would show up in your life? What would you do, say, and think? How would you react to the other characters? Would you be a character who takes action, or one who is more passive, waiting for things to happen around her?

Once you have the answers to those questions, begin to look for small ways each day that you can begin to reframe your current situation. When you are faced with a challenging situation, ask yourself how you would interpret it and what you would do if you were the character you wanted to be. Find openings to think differently about yourself and about what is happening around you.

Story is a powerful force in our lives. Whether we realize it or not, we are each crafting the story of our lives. It happens slowly, day after day. Often, we are unaware of what we are crafting. But, if we choose to pay attention we can unlock the power to rewrite our lives and become our own hero.