It was over 20 years ago. I had been volunteering at the local Rape Crisis Center. Once a week for 3 hours I would sit and wait for the phone to ring. Never knowing what would I would hear on the other end.
Sometimes they were prank calls. Though I often wondered what must have happened to a person to think that this kind of prank call is funny.
Sometimes I’d answer the phone and there would be no sound on the other end. I know it took such huge courage to just make the call, even more to start talking.
The night I got this call was cold and wintery. We were sitting in the tiny office with the windows and doors closed, an electric heater pumping out whatever heat was possible, I wore a scarf, hat and gloves inside the room!
It was my turn to answer. At first I heard nothing. I reckoned it was our usual 9.45pm prank call. But then I hear a faint sound. It was like an injured animal, a whimper. I told her to take her time.
The crying grew louder. I asked her if she was in a safe place. She said yes. I asked her if she was alone. She said yes. And then she began to cry really hard.
I took her through a breathing exercise to try to help her calm down so she would be able to speak. In between her sobbing was just silence.
I asked her if she wanted to say something. She said yes. And then started sobbing again. We went through this several times.
Finally, she said, it’s just a question.
She calmed down a bit.
Her sobbing turned back into a whimper. I could hear her breathing the way I had shown her.
Then she said it.
Just one question.
“is it my fault?”
I told her that I knew, without hesitation or the slightest doubt, that it was not her fault.
She said thank you and hung up.
I have no idea what was going on for her. Who did what to her. I know nothing about her.
It’s been more than 20 years.
And I have never been able to forget that call.
I’ve been thinking about it again this week.
Because of the big storm outside.
Because I see so many people that assume that it’s their fault. Whatever the painful situation is. And then create and tell and retell and retell incredibly painful stories about themselves.
And the one thing I know is that IT’S NEVER TRUE.
And that whatever happened (the reality) is much kinder than the stories we find ourselves telling about it.
And this is true for your business too.
If you’re struggling. It’s probably because you’re telling yourself a story that’s just not working for you. And it’s NOT true.
If you don’t have enough clients, it could be because you are telling yourself (and them!) a story that isn’t working.
If you are scared to get up on stage and using speaking to build your business, you may be telling the story that you’re not ready, or you don’t know what to talk about, or who wants to listen…or something equally ridiculous and NOT TRUE.
So, stop now.
Take a look at the stories that are keeping you small.
And think about how you can tell a better story.
I know you can.
What first step can you take to let go of the story that’s not working for you?
Share it here.