The Limits to Writing Your Own Life Story

The Limits to Writing Your Own Life Story

July 24, 2023

The writer John Barth once said, “Everyone is necessarily the hero of their own life story.” Modern research agrees. There are numerous studies that demonstrate a strong link between storytelling, resilience, and overall life satisfaction.

It is important to note, the majority of those studies that show a benefit to a narrative orientation, or one in which you consider your life a story, are backward-looking. Having a narrative is useful for integrating past events into a story of your life that makes sense and feels good to you.

But what about looking forward? What if the story you're telling yourself now is limiting you from reaching your fullest potential in the future? 

According to author Brad Stulberg, if your narrative orientation towards life is too powerful, you may unknowingly impose artificial limits and constraints on what you could do next. Your trajectory becomes set in stone, and you may fail to change or even realize that change is possible when it may be the best path forward for your life. Stulberg says in The Growth Equation blog, "A good story almost never radically changes course. A good life often does."

Like so many other powerful concepts, having a well-worn, cohesive story to make sense of your life can be a fantastic tool...until it becomes the very thing that stands in the way of your next success. Therefore, Stulberg proposes you use a narrative orientation when it serves you, but never be afraid to release it when you're ready to write the exciting next chapters of your life.1

Footnotes and Sources