What stories are shaping your life? Intuitively, we know that negative stories are potentially limiting. Many of us know that the way we talk to ourselves is important. And some of us are aware that just because we think something, it doesn’t make it true. So, with all of this awareness why are so many of us still hostage to the stories that we tell ourselves?
First of all, knowing something and living it are two different things. Secondly, when we use the word “stories” it makes it sound as though they are false. There are certainly stories that are false or parts of them may be, but there are also parts of these stories that are true or based on the truth. Once we become aware that a story is false we may find it easier to let it go. However, if we connect to truth in our stories (even if significant parts of it are false) it can be more difficult to set aside. Also, these stories are not like the stories you read in novels, fully constructed worlds with a beginning, middle, and end – they are more narratives that we tell ourselves all day long that are influenced by different perspectives.
Interestingly, different people can look at the exact same situation and have quite radically different perspectives on it. If you’ve ever been in any kind of relationship at all, you probably know this to be true!
What Does This Look Like In Real Life?
You are looking for a new job and are invited to an interview one week from today. Three days from now, you receive an email saying your interview has been cancelled because they are putting the recruitment on hold. Your narrative may lead you down a path about not ever finding a job and suspicions that they aren’t truly putting the recruitment on hold but that they took a look at your resume again and decided it was a mistake to have contacted you in the first place. Another person in the exact same scenario, may feel grateful that they were upfront about the change and that they didn’t waste her time interviewing for a position they aren’t ready to fill.
Another person may be upset because a friend was rude or short with them during their last conversation, telling themselves this friend takes advantage of their good nature. While instead you, focus on how hard your friend is working, see that she’s been putting in long hours and does a lot for her family and feel she may need to take some extra time for herself.
The “details” you pay attention to shape your narrative.
Telling ourselves these stories is natural, it’s how we function and we do it all day long. However, we miss out on a huge opportunity to have more of the life we desire if we remain unaware of these stories because we don’t understand how they shape our happiness, confidence, moods, etc.
How Can We Become More Aware?
There is no tremendous secret or trick. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. Pay attention to the narrative you’ve got going on.
Allow your emotions to trigger you to pay attention. If you are feeling really happy – pause and play back the thoughts you’re having or that you just had. If you’re feeling angry – do the same. The more you do this, the better you’ll get at it and you can start to become aware in situations with more subtle emotions (i.e. when you are procrastinating or returning to pattern).
It can be helpful to say the thoughts out loud. Saying and hearing them helps you to separate what is true and what is untrue because you’ll feel the disconnect of what is untrue.
What Can You Do When You’re Hooked On A Story?
Raising your awareness will have a real impact. Simply noticing that a particular story or theme is quite prevalent in your life may cause you to question it and if it’s something that seems to be holding you back you may naturally just start to identify what is untrue about it and that helps you to shift it.
Another technique that I like is what I call the “what if” game. If you become aware of a story that you are telling, even if it’s embedded and you believe it to be true, ask yourself the question – what if this wasn’t true, how would I feel/behave/respond then?
Remember that while it is possible to change in a moment, shifts and personal development often take time and practice. Be patient and kind with yourself. Stay aware and strive for what brings you more happiness, fulfillment, success, and peace.
If you’d like help getting unstuck from a story, message me here to set up a complimentary chat.