I believe that almost every problem we experience can be traced back to the stories we tell ourselves. These stories may have once been written for a good reason, but they no longer serve us. Holding on to them only continues to produce undesired outcomes. You don’t have to remain stuck in your story. If you change your story you change your life.
Here are five suggestions to take control of the narrative in your head and begin writing a new story:
- Recognize the voice in your head. It doesn’t matter where it originated (your parents, a teacher, an abusive spouse, your church, your culture); just recognize that it’s in there.
- Write down what the voice is saying. When you catch yourself re-telling a limiting story, write it down. This is an important step because it allows you to critically evaluate the truth of the story. It might be something like:
a. “You’re too young.”
b. “You’re too old.”
c. “You’re uneducated.”
d. “You’re over-educated.”
e. “You don’t have enough experience.”
f. “You don’t have the right experience.”
This could be literally anything. Listen carefully and write it down word-for-word.
- Evaluate whether this story is empowering. Is your story enabling you to live your dreams and accomplish the goals 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.) Call on your highest and truest self to assist you.
- Analyze the story with an objective eye. Try to isolate the principles, values, attitudes and beliefs that comprise the story. Are they true today? Could they be replaces with other principles, values, attitudes or beliefs that would better serve you? If you’ve decided that your story is not empowering, then you already know that it needs to be edited. It if doesn’t work for you, if it doesn’t serve your highest purpose, if it doesn’t empower you then let it go. Thank it for its years of tireless service and say goodbye.
- Write down a different story. This is not just a bunch of positive thinking mumbo jumbo. It must be the truth. Base it on principles that resonate with you. And often, this is simply a matter of shifting your perspective. Be willing to change your perspective and look for ways that the traits and experiences you previously saw as negative can benefit you in moving forward.
- Start telling yourself the new story. Every time your inner narrator begins telling the old yarn, stop her. Say, “No! That’s baloney. Here’s the truth.” Then repeat your new story.
It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. Studies suggest that you have to consistently engage in a new action 40 or more times in order for it to become a habit. Be persistent, consistent and patient.
Establishing a relationship with a professional coach is one way to consistently challenge your old stories and reinforce new ones. You can also call on a friend or spouse to help keep you accountable. Regardless of your technique, know that you can do it. You’ll be astonished at the difference a new story will make in your life.
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