Where Did My Story Come From? – Get to Know the Characters

Your story is a combination of the principles, values, attitudes, and beliefs you have about the world coupled with the judgments you’ve assigned to previous behaviors.  Many people use these terms interchangeably, but there are distinct differences.  Each of them plays an important role in your story.  If you want to change your story, you need to understand the characters in it.

Principles – universal and fundamental truths that serve as the foundation for an individual’s belief system, behavior and chain of reasoning.  You can’t get very far without understanding principles and knowing which principles are important to your story.   Here are some examples:

  • Honesty
  • Acceptance
  • Hope
  • Faith
  • Courage
  • Integrity
  • Willingness
  • Humility
  • Justice
  • Mercy
  • Love
  • Self-discipline
  • Perseverance
  • Awareness
  • Service

Values – important and lasting ideals specific to a culture that serve to explain what is good or bad and what is desirable or undesirable.  The key here is that they are specific – not universal.  We often think they are universal and many cultural, political and interpersonal battles have been fought over values.  How do your values align with your principles?  How do they impact your story?

Examples of American values:

  • Life
  • Liberty
  • Happiness
  • Freedom
  • Equality
  • Democracy
  • Capitalism
  • Independence
  • Strength
  • Punctuality
  • Efficiency
  • Productivity

Attitudes – an expression of favor or disfavor toward a particular person, place, thing, or event.  They are values coached within social situations.  Attitudes can change on a whim because they are closely tied to moods and emotions.  They may be guided by values but often exist independently of them.  Attitudes are tied to a particular place and time – a particular experience.  If your story is based on attitudes you held when it was written, it’s a safe bet that it is no longer serving you.

Beliefs – a mental act of placing trust or confidence in something as true.  Beliefs are very personal even though many can be shared within a culture or group.  Many people base all of their actions (and reactions) on their beliefs.  The problem is that every belief has at least one equal and opposite belief.  Beliefs are not based on logical reasoning or evidence.  In fact, many people maintain particular beliefs even when there is scientific evidence to disprove them.  For example, there are many who still believe that going outside without a jacket will give you a cold, even though the scientific community has proven that the common cold is caused by a viral infection.

How do your principles, values, attitudes and beliefs color your story?

If particular values, attitudes or beliefs no longer serve you or aren’t beneficial in helping you reach your goal, consider focusing instead on principles.  When principles are used as the guiding force in life, many difficult choices suddenly have a clear best action.

As Steven Covey so aptly explains:

“[W]isdom is the child of integrity—being integrated around principles. And integrity is the child of humility and courage. In fact, you could say that humility is the mother of all virtues because humility acknowledges that there are natural laws or principles that govern the universe. They are in charge. Pride teaches us that we are in charge. Humility teaches us to understand and live by principles, because they ultimately govern the consequences of our actions. If humility is the mother, courage is the father of wisdom. Because to truly live by these principles when they are contrary to social mores, norms and values takes enormous courage.”

Want some help in changing your perspective?  Coaching may be the answer.  Visit my page for more information.

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