Is your story shrinking or expanding your future?
Growing up in the Aussie bush, my dad often teased me about being a ‘bumble-foot.’ My dad is a beautiful man, but I took his words on as Gospel truth, creating a story that I was a bonafide ‘non-athlete; that my legs just weren’t made for running. And sure enough, every time I tried to run, I’d soon get puffed. “See, I’m just not a runner,” I’d tell others too.
I know this sounds ridiculous, but that was my lived experience. My self-storied reality.
Then, in my early 40s, while part of an early morning boot camp, I realized one day – much to my own astonishment – that I’d just run 8 miles (nearly 13 km). Spurred on by this ‘miraculous’ event, I registered in Washington DC’s annual Cherry Blossom 10 mile run.
I still recall crossing that finish line, and bursting into tears, as though it were yesterday.
I CAN RUN!
I rang my parents afterward (you’d have thought I’d just won Olympic Gold!)
They were pretty proud. But not near as much as me.
I’ve since run in numerous half marathons (also with tears at the finish line) and still aspire to do run the New York marathon one day. Just one. (I’ve definitely got to get back my running fitness before then!)
My reason for sharing this story isn’t to convince you that I should have made the Olympic team. Rather it’s to invite you to challenge the stories that you’ve been telling yourself about what you can (or cannot!) do, or about how the world “should” be or why you’re not able to change it for the better.
Having coached many people to ‘challenge their stories’ over the years, it’s only reinforced this belief:
You create your stories, and then your stories create you.
If there is an area of your life in which you feel stuck or stressed, resentful or resigned – – your wellbeing, finances, family, relationships, time management, ability to lead a team or level up your business/career – then I can guarantee you that you’re living inside a self-created story that isn’t serving your highest good (and is likely shortchanging others too.)
So as you bring to mind something that isn’t as you’d like it to be, I invite you to answer this question:
What’s another story you could tell yourself that would make you feel more positive, powerful and purposeful ?
Try it on for size.
Notice how it feels.
If it shifts the energy within you, in even the slightest way, then stick with it. After all, you don’t believe what is true. You believe what you tell yourself is true. So if the story you’re spinning isn’t moving you forward, consider that maybe it’s holding you back.
Like you, I’m not immune to getting sucked into a story that leaves me feeling stuck or small or stressed out. But when I find myself feeling that way, I remind myself that I’m only perpetuating my suffering. Why? Because our stories either move us forward … or not.
Your stories either shrink or expand your life; either empowering you to do more of what will light you up, or keeping you stuck in what pulls you down.
Obviously, you cannot go back and change the past. But when you change the story you have about it, you release the grudges, labels and limiting beliefs that stifle your future.
Likewise, you can’t always change the circumstances of your present. Not immediately anyway. But by telling yourself a new story – one that fosters compassion, confidence, optimism – you can change how you’re viewing your situation and by default, elevate the trajectory of your life.
And maybe do something you never thought you could (like run ten miles!)
As the light at the end of this long pandemic tunnel grows brighter, albeit slower than we’d like, it opens up a whole new horizon of possibilities. So I reckon now is a really good time to reset on a vision for your future, to challenge your stories and to think about what you’d like to write in the next chapter of your life.
Whatever it is, make it one that inspires you and elevates others.
Because one thing I know about all else… there are things that will never be done if you don’t do them. And you can do more than you think!
I know it!
PS: If you’re looking for some extra inspiration, grab yourself a copy of You’ve Got This! The Life-Changing Power of Trusting Yourself.