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The Power of Story

written by Maggie Sale Ostara, PhD

I had the good fortune to spend the last weekend with my two creativity mentors, Shiloh Sophia McCloud and Sue Hoya Sellers of the Cosmic Cowgirls.  What I love about working with them is their commitment to creating images as a path of spiritual growth. 

I personally am not a visual person, which means (for me) that when I close my eyes, I see black.  Sometimes a few lights and colors, but mostly just black.  I don’t “visualize” in the sense of seeing images, even when I’m doing a guided meditation.  So developing my visual abilities has been both challenging and a great addition to me.  

Last weekend we developed an altar that had several parts, focusing on an old story, and the emergence of a new story.  If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that I’ve written often about the power and importance of story.  Although it’s become popular for coaches and spiritual teachers to try to get you to get out of your story, or beyond your story, I don’t actually think that’s possible.

Story or narrative is a fundamental way that we understand our lives as human beings.  Story exists in every culture and has throughout time.  It provides a way to process our experiences, meaning, and lessons.  It helps us connect one event or understanding to another, so we can make sense of things.  Otherwise we live in an undifferentiated, and often undigested, world of experience.

Now it’s one thing to learn to identify the stories you tell yourself that you think are “just the way it is.”  Too often people think their story of who they are is the truth, when actually it’s a story that they either made up or had given to them at some point.  Some of it may be true, but much of it isn’t.  It’s very helpful to step back and be able to see that story for what it is—and that’s exactly what we were doing last weekend—identifying a story that had been running us that had seemed to be true, but is it?

Any story is partial. By its very nature it’s a perspective, an interpretation, a way of seeing that isn’t the whole story (irony intended).

Okay, clear on that point.

But does that mean that story itself is not valuable?

Not at all, not in my view.

You have perspective.  You cannot help but have perspective.  Einstein is the one who, using physics, demonstrated what literary people have always known:  an observer affects what is being observed—that is the power of perspective.

The point isn’t to get beyond story or off story (because you can’t).  It’s to know what story you are telling yourself, you are believing, what perspective you are living through, and if it is serving you.  Then you have choice to be the author of your story, rather than at the mercy of a story you don’t even know is running you from deep within your unconscious.

As Caroline Casey would say:  Which story makes you feel better, Armageddon, or the one where everything works out the way that you want it to?  Which one do you choose?

So is the story you are telling yourself about who you are, about your business, about the economy, about the world today, about your clients, about your prospects —  is it helping you or is it hindering you? 

My take on this is that, yes, you have to become aware of the story you are living inside of.  I often ask my clients:  what story are you telling yourself about this situation (yourself, that person, this opportunity)?  When you really take in the metaphysical truth that you create your reality, then you have to ask yourself what are you creating with your perspective?  You have to step back enough to observe the story in which you are the star (whether you like it or not).  Is it a tragedy?  A comedy?  A hero’s journey?  A boring novel?  A blockbuster movie?

This is the value of triggers and challenges.  They reveal your story, IF you approach them this way.  IF you realize that the things, people or situations that irritate or infuriate you are sign posts to what’s going on inside of you and the way you are making sense of all that energy.

And IF you take responsibility and see this as an opportunity to gain a NEW perspective on yourself.  Not blame others or outside circumstances.

Then you can begin to create a new story.

And to tell a new one requires imagination.  “Imagination is more important than knowledge” (Einstein again).  What I loved about painting last weekend is that we got to create our stories in images—and to use our creativity in that particular way.  Being a literary person, I LOVE expanding into visual arts to tell my new story!

The law says: What you give your attention to expands, whether you are conscious of it or not.   Learning to identity your old story, and create a new story makes your creations (which happen no matter what) more and more conscious.

PLEASE:  Don’t use the law against yourself by unwittingly using your imagination to fuel your uncertainty, doubts and fear.  Use the law for yourself by stretching your imagination (and your comfort zone) to tell a story that opens, invigorates and empowers you, the more outrageous the better.

Like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, practice thinking “unbelievable” things, preferably before breakfast to get a good start on the day.

So what’s your story?

Leave your comment about the new story you’re telling about yourself, your business, your life.  You are the author/authority on your life and experience—how will you create it today?


Maggie Sale Ostara, PhD left her prestigious job as the Director of Women’s a Gender Studies at Columbia University when she realized she’s not built to work for anyone else. Since then, Dr. Ostara has become a Certified Human Design Specialist (Level 4), a Certified Clarity Breathwork Practitioner, a highly sought after teacher-mentor, who teaches high-achieving women how to develop their personal sovereignty, to activate their super powers, and to unleash themselves from society’s prescription of success.

She’s the creator of the Soul Signature Self Awareness Project, the Wheel of Power of the Visionary Entrepreneur, and over 20 educational programs focused building soul-inspired businesses that positively impact the world and taking command of your life through personal sovereignty. She’s hosted 5 multi-speaker online conferences, and spoken on over 15 such conferences reaching audiences of over 200,000 participants.

With two decades of experience supporting 20,000+ students and hundreds of clients through her online programs and conferences, Dr. Ostara teaches how to avoid overwhelm and burnout, how to make reliable decisions, how to create a bigger impact with less effort, and how to transform inner liabilities into powerful assets and allies.