Are You a Story Teller? Truth or Consequences

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In our newly released book, The Curse of the Capable we mentioned how Tiger Woods single minded focus worked successfully for him before he was married and how his life had supposedly become more balanced as he married and started a family. I don’t pretend to know Mr. Woods other than what I have read and observed so I mean no disrespect to him or his family for including him in this article.  His relevance to this piece is due to his inclusion in the new book. At the time of the writing he was noted as a celebrity who performed at high levels while being a balanced family man. This unmistakable point is worth reviewing retrospectively and certainly is not exclusive to celebrities as you will see.

                     How we use Stories to cover up our Vulnerabilities

   Tiger, like many other very capable people, excels in one narrow area of life and many people assume this success extends to all aspects of his and other very competent people’s lives. This is a common dynamic of talented people who suffer from “The Curse”. The hallmark of this dilemma is the co-occurrence of being capable in a particular area, and the strong sense that something very important is missing although the individual can’t clearly identify what is missing. The Curse then manifests in various ways such as excessive drinking, affairs, angry outbursts, self abuse or abuse of others.  The unending search for what is missing becomes all consuming and can drive very competent people to lead very destructive lives.

                                     Cover Up’s Destroy Intimacy                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We ironically included Tiger’s positive story in a chapter titled “Image Love”.

From the book, “People who are not in an intimate relationship and are unyieldingly caught up in constant achievement are engaged in a bold attempt to secure love and respect from afar, making love a distraction. As much as they may want love, those who feel cursed adopt stories that eliminate the possibility. It’s the classic achiever story of the person who puts the rest of his life on hold in order to excel in various ventures-be it job, a new business, perfecting appearance or various attempts to obtain fame and status.”  How ironic that today, after the book’s publication, it is now clear that the story depicted as the cure was actually more symbolic of the Curse.

               It’s not just Celebrities Who tell Inaccurate Stories

Obviously the story Tiger was telling the world was not the true story. He projected a profile he could not possibly live up to and eventually it all fell apart. We have been inundated with media reports of known celebrities acting inappropriately in their private lives, from Charlie Sheen, to Mel Gibson, to the NFL’s Ben Roethlisberger and many others. We have trouble believing that behind the scenes a different, less positive story exists than the one we see on camera. Sheen and Gibson are actors, Woods and Roethlisberger are athletes, but all are in the performance theatre, where stories can easily be constructed and exaggerated as well as promoted. However we are all part of this human story. If we evolve in the formative years of our lives with a negative story it will ultimately determines our behavior. Regardless of our professional success we will be destined to feel isolated, frustrated and often completely out of control.

             Understanding the Consequences of your Story

                      These celebrity examples are profound and highly publicized examples of how we create stories early in life that are based on fictional accounts of who we are. We all need to re-write these stories by obtaining accurate information from those who are willing to help us obtain the truth about ourselves. Otherwise we are allowing ourselves to be prone to extreme efforts to achieve in order to solve a problem that cannot be satisfied through performance. We see in these dramatic cases how we cannot solve an internal problem with an external solution. We can only be healed through having the courage to look back, with the help of others, to discern how we created the internal view we have of ourselves. That view determines our behavior and governs our perceptions. We wrote a novel early in life and that fictional account needs to be re-written as a non-fiction, factual account of who we are on the deepest level.

                              Emotional Freedom

Emotional freedom comes when we can accept our vulnerabilities and our imperfections. Freedom comes when we truly know ourselves and we perceive the character of those close to us accurately. Intimacy is sustained and a sense of internal calm is experienced with consistency when our comprehensive view of ourselves match reality, not when our stories remain confused, distorted and lead to  behavior that is self abusive and hurtful to others.

                        Empathy reveals our Authentic Self

We can clearly see the difference between the real and projected stories among celebrities. They unfortunately are scrutinized so closely by the media that when the authentic story is revealed it makes headlines immediately. Many people in our current driven society are no different although most of us don’t have to suffer through the humiliation of public exposure. It is not uncommon for human beings to project an image of themselves to the world that is untrue. We even come to believe that these unrealistic images we project are accurate. The only way we determine the true story is by entering into empathic relationships with those close to us. We have the opportunity to receive valuable feedback daily if we have the courage to do so. A great friend is one who gives us what we need not what we want. People sense whether or not we are open to honest feedback. Your friends, family and associates will tread lightly if you’re defensive, overly sensitive or resistant to forming a new view of yourself. We can’t make an accurate assessment of ourselves alone, we are all too subjective. Stay in your own head and you’re likely to buy into a false story. Open up to those around you and you are very likely to begin living with an internal story that will bring you love, creativity, and overall success in the world. Always remember your internal story determines your life experience.

            Arthur P. Ciaramicoli, Ed.D., Ph.D.

Author of The Curse of the Capable: The Hidden Challenge to a Balanced, Healthy, High Achieving Life.

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Arthur Ciaramicoli PhD

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