People’s beliefs about their abilities have a profound effect on those abilities. Ability is not a fixed property; there is huge variability in how you perform.- Albert Bandura
Part 1 of 8: Mental Decluttering and Mindset Shift
Part 2 of 8: Skip the Should, Find Your Why
Part 3 of 8: Compare and Despair, Don’t Go There
Part 4 of 8: Assumption junction, what’s your function?
Part 5 of 8: It’s Your Story, Make It a Good One
TALL TALES & STORYTELLING TRENDS
Even before there were blogs…or papyrus for that matter…people told stories. Stories are the lifeblood of each culture and a way that humans made sense of their world and kept connected. Stories to explain the sun and moon. Stories to keep tradition alive. Stories to inspire.
The power of stories is undeniable, but the appreciation of them might be in question because they aren’t always as related to facts as we might hope. (Think Greek Mythology or anything related to the Vikings!) Stories are what we claim little children tell and we discourage as we become older. “Stop making stuff up,” we admonish. And yet we could learn from young ones who constantly urge “Tell me a story!” The ability of our minds to create can be a blessing and a curse. As with any skill, it’s what you do with it that counts, right?
The reason storytelling is so appreciated when we’re young is that our minds work in pictures and stories support that. Our imaginations are allowed to run free and we can explore without moving or acting. We can promote fear, design plans, and inspire change. The sky is truly the limit. But one of the most precious aspects of storytelling is the connection we can create.
It seems the business world has caught up to the rest of the world and has embraced stories full force. For one, stories “hit you where you live” emotionally. And, there is no doubt that relationships and connection are the key to growing business. There is something incredibly special about hearing a story that resonates with one of your own. I have seen it personally that my willingness to be vulnerable and share who I am and what I have gone through is preferred by my clients. Many of them have decided to work with me after learning about what I’ve gone through and how I’ve handled it.
While so much of our storytelling can have great results, the challenge, as always, is what we do with it. Are we telling our story in a way that inspires or traps us? Is our story an excuse?
It’s one thing to be honest with yourself about moments in your life. We can certainly allow our imaginations to take us in the wrong direction. But I believe it’s even more common for us to tell our stories in a way that goes beyond self-deprecating.
Think about the stories you tell yourself. I don’t even mean the elaborate ones. I mean any story that describes you and tells the world, and you, who you are. Here’s a common one: “Oh, I’m always late.” Are you? Really? Have you asked yourself why? Is that something you can change? What purpose does the story serve? More often than not I find this kind of statement justifies a behavior. Worse yet, it traps you, making you believe you’re stuck (or giving you the excuse to be). You may even think “But I don’t want to be late!” Yet there is something in you that takes ownership of this concept and a self-fulfilling prophecy is born.
“We all have stories we tell ourselves. We tell ourselves we are too fat, too ugly, or too old, or too foolish. We tell ourselves these stories because they allow us to excuse our actions, and they allow us to pass off the responsibility for things we have done-maybe to something within our control, but anything other than the decisions we have made.”
― Eleanor Brown
THAT’S MY STORY & I’M STICKING TO IT
Do you really want to do that? Or do you want the option to change your story? I don’t mean that you should fabricate it. I mean re-frame it. You are free to adjust the story so that you can adjust with it. You are encouraged to do so, especially if that story you’re telling doesn’t work for you.
“Who are we but the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and believe?”― Scott Turow
So how do you do that? Little by little.
1) Acknowledge that you have a story that isn’t serving you. It’s usually something negative, though it can surprise you. Sometimes it’s obvious like being late or messy. Sometimes it’s tricky and subversive like accepting your “fate” in a dead-end job. Either way, your awareness that this is a story and your consideration to change is it is a strong start.
2) Ask WHAT IF. What if this story wasn’t true? What if you could change? What if this wasn’t a given because of your family and friends and the life you’ve led? Think of the possibilities and IMAGINE how it would be. You are a storyteller. Allow your mind to see the new scenario vividly.
3) Identify ONE SMALL THING you can do to get from point A to B and act upon it. For example, if you’ve always been messy, perhaps you could select one small spot in your life that you begin to clean regularly. A car, a drawer, a small closet, or a desk top are all good options. It’s especially impactful if it’s something you can experience daily. Maybe doing a sweep of your desktop each night.
4) Create AFFIRMATIONS to shift this thinking and view them daily. One thing I’ve noticed about affirmations is that they can be a challenge when your mindset is fighting you. I understand that. But you can be creative by designing transitioning ones. For example, you might not say “I am organized” but you could say “I’m becoming more organized every day.” Or “I’m releasing clutter every day.” It can feel realistic and encouraging, which is key.
5) Select and schedule a NEXT STEP, at least weekly, and keep viewing and adjusting your affirmations as needed. The reason this is important is to take advantage of momentum you are creating and to grow and adjust with the shift you’re making.
NOTE: I used the example of a story that relates to an area in life you want to transform, like being messy. If your story relates to something involving self-worth, you will need to adjust your approach. This would be where you learn to reframe your perspective and then create affirmations involving it. For example, if your story is “I’m fat” you may want to work on identifying all the things your body does for you and how you can nourish it and support it in return. Then you can create affirmations that reflect those ideas. The key here is to reframe the negative story first. and then identify the shifts you want to create.
Do you remember being little and getting SO excited when a story had YOU in it? Let’s let that happen again. But make sure that story is serving you in the best way possible.
The best part? You’re writing your story and you can change it any time…including right now. What story do you want to change? Share it below and I’ll cheer you on!
About the STOP SAYING SHOULD SERIES
In the Stop Saying Should Series, I’m focusing on a list of 7 items that sabotage our happiness and productivity. These are things like saying “should” and comparing ourselves and our lives to others, as well as skipping the self-care and assuming what others think. The full collection can be found in this free inspiration sheet, but I believe each one deserves its own spotlight, so I’m dedicating this series to that.
Through my own development and my experiences with clients, I’ve found negative self-talk to be a mindset killer. Even for those who are positive and determined, how they treat themselves and perceive things can be a silent threat that sabotages all they are trying to do. That is why I wrote “Stop Saying Should” and how the list flowed freely from me. It started with that simple, but potent, phrase.