14 Sept 06 - 105There comes a time when enough is enough. When you just don’t have time for anything that isn’t authentic. When being yourself and speaking your truth just won’t wait anymore. When that time comes, one of the biggest challenges we face is letting go of our “story.” We have to lose our story to birth our message — to birth ourselves and our authentic voice.

This statement might come as a surprise. After all, I often talk about the importance of stories to convey our message. Stories are powerful . . . very powerful. So powerful, in fact, we need to make sure we’re purposeful and specific in selecting and telling those stories. They need to make the point we want to make and move our message forward.

Herein lies the dilemma. Some of the stories we believe about ourselves and our message don’t support us. They are often stories we’ve believed for a very long time. We might not even be aware of them — they lie beneath the surface, in our subconscious. But, they are still powerful — more powerful than we know. They drive our beliefs and our behavior.

Our job, then, is to unearth these stories and either let them go, or revise them, so we can be our true selves and birth our authentic voice, our message.

About a year ago, I agreed to speak pro bono to a group of conscious business women about finding your authentic voice. I was excited about this because the founder of the group said, “Andrea, go as deep as you want. Speak your truth! Go for it!”

How often do you get that invitation? I’m very aware of my audience and what will serve them. I also don’t want to make people “unhappy,” and that was possible if I told certain stories. I worked on my presentation for months. I agonized over the theme, the stories, and my delivery. Should I really go that deep?

I questioned one story. If I included it, I would be sharing a very painful and vulnerable time from my childhood. I thought it was important to show how one experience can destroy your trust and shut down your spirit, but that you can recover and reclaim your truth — your authentic voice — when you are willing to release it.

Now, I often tell my clients, do not do therapy from the platform. That is not the place. If you can’t tell your story without breaking down, it’s not time. I’d told this story enough to know this wasn’t a problem for me. What I didn’t know was, would it be a problem for some in my audience? Would they be uncomfortable, and if the answer was yes, was that okay with me? Was I willing to experience their unhappiness or disapproval, if it came to that? Eeesh. I decided I had to tell it, or I wouldn’t be telling the truth.

So, I did. I clearly recall getting to the point in the story where I showed, through my creative expression, witnessing violence in my home. It was palpable. I could tell they were experiencing the fear and pain. After the story, they were quiet. Some had tears streaming down their faces.

It was one five-minute story in an hour-long presentation. I had also included lots of humor and takeaway info. I had even brought my accompanist with me so I could sing a few tunes! And, I could tell this story had hit its mark. It was as tough to experience for some as I thought it might be. This is the power of story.

At the end of the meeting, several folks told me how meaningful the presentation was. Some shared how much they related to that story because they’d had similar experiences. Some wouldn’t make eye contact with me. I don’t think they appreciated it, at least not at lunch. (I’m guessing at that.) I noticed the people-pleasing part of me emerge. Was it okay? Am I okay? Should I have played it safer? Did I go too far?

But, here’s what I didn’t expect. That story had been alive in me since I was a child. I’d told it more than once. On that day, it was over. I walked out of that meeting realizing I never had to tell that story again. It was done defining me. I could move on. I had moved on. While I didn’t know this at the time, I had to share that story in that meeting so I could let it go. I believe some others had to hear that story too, so they could move on, or at least begin their process. Now I use different stories to make my point because that particular story doesn’t ring true for me anymore.

In hindsight, I might not have gone as “big” as I did with the story, at least at a luncheon. I might have revised it to have less punch. But then, would it have had the power, for me and for some in my audience? I’ll never know, but I do believe there are no accidents. With the release of that story, I’ve become even more free to share my truth and help others share theirs. I had to release that story so I could birth my message. It hasn’t happened overnight, but it is happening, and it can happen for you, too.

We all have lots of stories we live by. Some of them limit us and, eventually, when it’s time, we need to release them if we’re to free ourselves and birth our message. I would love to support you to lose your “story” so you can free your authentic voice! I can be reached at Andrea@AndreaBeaulieu.com.