By Hannah from Bird
You get to write the story.
We live our lives as stories. We carry stories about who we are, where we have come from, where we are going, and what the systems are like around us.
You get to decide what your months are all about.
We make up stories about what’s going to happen in the future. Oftentimes these stories have an element of catastrophising in them, we lean towards worst-case scenarios rather than looking at what could go well. Either way, there is almost always a narrative driving our existence.
Our behaviours are driven by our stories. I recently had to find a place to temporarily live. A friend had just bought a new flat and was about to let it out on Airbnb but kindly offered it as a place I could stay for a few weeks. I hadn’t seen the space but happily arranged to move in. Once the agreement was made, the lead up to moving in became fraught with stories. I decided it wasn’t going to be very nice at all. I decided it was going to be too loud at night and that I wouldn’t get a proper nights sleep. I made up that it would feel lonely and un-homely, and put off actually moving in until the very last minute.
Our behaviours are driven by our stories.
Of course, as I’m sure you can predict, the place ended up being cosy, warm, safe, quiet, and even close to an amazing yoga studio and eco friendly supermarket which made me extra happy. There was absolutely nothing to worry about at all, and yet I drove myself into such a difficult head space by making up an entirely irrelevant story beforehand.
The reason I speak of this at the start of December is because we make up stories about the festive period. I notice seasonal stories around indulgent eating, over drinking, rituals, expectations and lots of socialising. It seems we have a collective story that December is a time for anti-self-care, and January’s tale is that we shame ourselves for our December indulgences and go cold turkey on our vices.
But it’s all just stories. And when you realise that, you realise you can re-write the story to one that really serves you. How about December is a time for Hygge, or December is a time to really slow down and self-reflect, or December is a time to get intentional about the food and drink you consume in order to feel energised for January. You get to write the story. You get to decide what your months are all about.
If I were to have taken charge of my story about my new apartment I could have told myself the rosy (and in the end real) story that it was going to be a really lovely, cosy and safe temporary place to stay. And December’s story for me will be about self and work reflection. It will be about looking at the year gone by and exploring what there is to be grateful for – both good and bad. December is also about getting cosy indoors. It is about going very easy on the alcohol (which this year looks like total abstinence). It’s about finding ways to give back. It’s about slowing down.
..they can be powerful, and can drive us to create
situations and experiences that make us come alive.
And January, is about the energy.
Stories can be dangerous when we leave them unchecked. They can drive us to do things that don’t serve us, and to feel nervous or scared or anxious. But, when explored and examined, and exchanged for stories that are more positive and hopeful, they can be powerful, and can drive us to create situations and experiences that make us come alive.
Bird is a consulting firm that helps nonprofits solve wellbeing and resiliency challenges, working with NGO workers, researchers, PhD students, doctors, nurses, social workers, carers, teachers, coaches, counsellors and entrepreneurs, championing your creativity and helping you to grow. Bird supports people who are committed to positive change.