Time To Tell A New Story?
I’m not sure if you’re an Olympics fan, but despite not being fanatical about any sport, the Olympics have reeled me in to my TV set over the last couple weeks. From Michael Phelps to Usain Bolt, their stories of persistence and determination are inspiring.
Of course we’re not all born to run fast or jump high. Yet too often we fail to ever get close to realizing what we can accomplish because of the stories we tell ourselves about what is, and is not, possible for us.
I grew up believing I couldn’t run (well not very far anyway!) My dad used to joke that I was a ‘bumble foot’ and while it was true that I was never particularly coordinated (I’m still not), I took his words at face value and for decades I never even tried to run. I remember saying to people “These legs just aren’t made for running.” Seriously! In high school the only races I entered were the 800 and 1,600 meter walk! I was in my late thirties before I realized that my legs actually could run and as you may know if you’ve read this newsletter for awhile, I’ve run two half-marathons in the last two years. (The New York marathon is on my bucket list though!)
We human beings are story making machines. Some of them serve us, expanding what’s possible for us and spurring us to take the actions required to achieve our goals and live deeply rewarding lives. Others… not so much. The challenge we face is discerning between the two.
Every time you tell yourself a story that leaves you feeling ‘less than’ in some way (less than powerful, capable, useful, lovable) you diminish your power and limit your future.
As I say in the video below, we’re wired to look for evidence that reinforces our story and supports our view of the world; that justifies our excuses, resentment, resignation, inaction, blame or sense of victim-hood. It’s why so many people excel at it! The pay-off we get from well worn stories that are keeping us stuck is that we don’t have to put anything on the line; they abdicate any personal responsibility for what isn’t as we’d like it to be. Our job. Our marriage. Our weight. Our social life. Our relationship with our kids or family. Our finances. Our life!
So if there’s any area of you’re life that you’re not feeling positive or powerful about, get out a pen and paper and try this:
Think of something in your life (a problem, person, situation that keeps getting you down, or past event) that isn’t as you’d like it to be and that continually pulls you down. Write down the story you’ve been telling yourself about it.
Take a look at that story and notice where you are using language that reinforces you as powerlessness to change anything. Write down how that story has made you feel up to now. What emotions does it continually trigger and fuel for you? Resentment? Hopelessness? Righteousness? Anger? Rejection?
Now think of someone you really admire and consider what story they might tell if they were in your shoes. Or sit quietly and channel your ‘inner sage’ and ask that wisest part of yourself what story it would like you to write. Then write it down, “The new story I’m telling myself about…… (problem, person, past, future)….. is….. ”
Notice how rewriting your story shifts the way you feel? What emotions has this trigger in your that you didn’t feel before? Hope? Ambition? Optimism? Peace? Acceptance?
What actions might you take now that you wouldn’t have before? How has changing your story opened up new possibilities for you?
As I wrote in Brave, unchallenged perceptions are rarely reality but they hold the power to shape it. When you change the way you look at things and tell yourself a new story it shift the emotions you feel and, in turn, the actions your take. Therein lies your power.
Like deciding that you too can run a marathon or build a business or write a book or change career or return to study or handle another child or climb a mountain or start a movement or end a relationship or create a brilliant one.
People who have created extraordinary lives and hold power are rarely where they are because of the power they’ve been given. Rather they are where they are because of how they’ve used the power they’ve always had. The same resides in you. You just have to change your story to access it!
Like me, you may not have the talent of an Olympian. But what I know for sure is that you have the power to do anything you set your mind upon so long as you’re willing to challenge the stories that diminish it. After all, if you’re story isn’t moving you forward, it’s holding you back.
Just imagine what possibilities would open up for you if you let go whatever story you’ve been holding on to for far too long and made up a new one. Like if you said to yourself…
- “I may not have done this before and I may not yet know how, but I believe it’s possible and I’m willing to try.”
- “This situation was unfair and difficult but I get to choose what to do now and I’m committed to making my future better than my past.”
- “No one else has the power to make me miserable. Holding on to anger has kept me chained to the past but I’m letting it go and moving on.”
You have to think bigger to act bigger.
Speaking of which, if you’d love a weekend to think really big about your life (and you’re a woman who isn’t okay with settling with ‘fine’) please check out my upcoming Live Brave Women’s Weekend. Early bird offer ends soon!
It’s going to be magic!
Also please note that partial scholarships are available for women who’d love to join in this weekend but can’t quite afford the cost right now. I’m all about supporting women so if you need that support, you need to ask!