Whenever we undertake a new change in our lives — whether it’s starting a new job or business, or changing a new habit — we tell ourselves a story about it.
We’re the hero of our story. Unfortunately, it’s not usually a very good story — it involves the hero not believing he or she can do it, wanting to give up and give in to the easy route.
If we’re not succeeding at something, it’s quite probably because we are telling ourselves the wrong story.
Try it now: think of a habit change you’re trying to make or that you’ve tried but failed at in the recent past. Maybe exercise, meditation, writing, defeating procrastination, etc.
Now think about what story you told yourself about yourself.
What image did you see in your head of yourself?
Was it a brave hero triumphing over all odds, never to be deterred by the forces marshalled against him by the cold harsh universe?
Or was it of an ordinary character who probably would give in to the doughnuts and Netflix when things got hard?
Maybe you can’t hear the story you’ve told yourself. Instead, try to sense what feeling is in your heart as you think of yourself conquering this new habit change or life change.
Does it feel full of doubt, anxiety, fear, dread? Or is it full of joy, triumph, deep caring?
We fail because of this story. It stands in our way, more than the actual thing we’re facing.
When things get tough or uncomfortable, we tell ourselves: it’s OK to quit, it doesn’t matter, we’ll do it next time, we’re not disciplined enough, we suck at this, we can’t do it, it’s too hard, it would be nice to take a break, life is too short to struggle, we deserve a reward, just this once won’t matter, we’re going to fail, it’s better to fail quietly, we just don’t feel like it right now, let’s not think about this, hey a bird!
So what can we do if our story is working against us?
Change the damn story. Create a song to sing about yourself as the epic hero of your dreams. Choose an empowering theme song. Sing this song daily, and be proud of it. Go after the dream, fight the forces of distraction and dullness and self-doubt, rise up to be your best self. You are the writer of your story, the composer of your song, and every moment is a chance to rewrite it, a new draft ready to be crafted into something better.
Or drop the story. See that without the story telling you that you can’t or shouldn’t do something … there’s just the physical reality of the world around you, no quitter and no hero. Just you and this moment, and it’s a good moment, and without the distraction of a story, you have a basic underlying goodness and love in your heart.
That’s all you need: just take this love in your heart and be happy, and do the things that are compassionate for yourself. The struggles you’ve been up against can all go away if you relax them and turn to the goodness of this moment, and take a loving step.
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” ~Norman Vincent Peale
The current state of your life is a direct result of the stories you tell yourself, and what you really believe is possible—not what you say is possible, but what you believe deep down in your core.
If you change the limiting stories you tell yourself, you will be able to change your life.
Here are the 6 steps to changing your internal story –
Step 1- Identifying Your Story
For some, your story can be tricky to find, since you have told yourself it for so long, it can feel like truth. But it is only a story.
What limiting stories are you telling yourself?
Maybe it’s that you’ll never find love or that you’ll never earn over a certain amount of money. Maybe it’s that you are too shy to speak in public or that you are terrible at small talk. Maybe you think you’ll never make a living doing what you love or that you are not smart enough to succeed.
All of these things are stories. The difference between you and the people doing the thing that you’ve always wanted to do is the stories you tell yourselves. Changing that story is one of the most important steps to changing your life.
A. Recognize the voice in your head. It doesn’t matter where it is coming from (your parents, a teacher, an abusive spouse); just recognize that it is happening.
B. Jot down what the voice is saying. It might sound like:
o “You’re too young.”
o “You’re too old.”
o “You’re uneducated.”
o “You’re over-educated.”
o “You don’t have enough experience.”
o “You don’t have the right experience.”
This could be literally anything. Listen carefully and write it down word-for-word.
C. Evaluate whether this story is empowering. Is it enabling you to accomplish the outcomes you want or is it preventing you from doing so? Be honest. Sometimes, people are addicted to their problems and the stories that create them.
Step 2 – Shifting Your Story
Now time to delete, un-create and de-story the disempowering old story and rewrite the new.
It could be simply deciding that I am just as good as anyone else and I deserve just as much as anyone else.
How can you change your stories to make them empowering?
I’m not talking about just a bunch of positive thinking. I am talking about telling yourself the truth. And often, this is simply a matter of shifting your perspective.
Every time your inner narrator begins telling the old story, stop and say uncreate, delete and de-story, then repeat your new story.
Step 3 – Supporting a New Story
A new story in itself is not always enough. That story needs to be rooted in something. You have to believe it, and changing your beliefs can be the most difficult thing of all. When I decided to change my story about myself, I looked around at my life for evidence that the new story was true.
As I started to look at my situation more, I realized that one of my core problems was “the anyone else” part of my story. I was comparing myself to others, and that will lead to unhappiness most of the time.
Instead of thinking of myself as just as good as anyone else, I started to change my story again to simply say that I am good.
Can you find evidence around you that can support your new story? Does looking at that evidence make you realize that you need to make any changes to your new story?
Step 4 – Emotions Are Key
Supporting your new story with facts will help you believe it, but what really anchors it into your life is associating it with positive emotions.
Meditation and visualisation are vital in this process. Imagine your new story concretely as though it has already happened. Live it, feel it, be it in your mind – make it big, bright, colourful and packed with emotion.
Step 5 – Nothing Happens Without Action
Now you’ll be able to see opportunities in places you’ve never noticed them before. You’ll have the courage to try things that you never did before.
Immediately start challenging myself. Such as making a conscious effort to speak up in social situations and to express my opinion. Start asserting your needs more. Start seeing things from a more positive perspective.
I’m not saying you will be perfect all the time but by simply making the effort gets me a step closer to my ideal.
Step 6 – Be Kind to Yourself
The physical circumstances around you won’t change overnight.
You won’t change your story to being abundant and then suddenly have millions of dollars in your bank account the next morning. What will happen, though, is that you will recognize the opportunities that will get you there.
Don’t be angry with yourself or the universe if it doesn’t happen fast enough for you, or if you fail to make the changes you want all once. Taking small steps in the right direction every day will get you were you need to be. It’s important to be consistent.
Don’t beat yourself up if you fall back into old habits. We are often our biggest critics. Just pick yourself up and start again. It’s the ability to continue moving forward that will get you to your goal.
It comes down to this: Change your story, change your life.
If you like it share it.
What behaviours or outcomes did your old story generate for you?
What has changed with your new story?
Just comment below. Would love to hear from you.