We all have stories that run on repeat in our head; tales we’ve learned to recite based on our experiences and also based on what we’ve heard from others throughout our lives. Your entire life is made up of the stories you tell; those about who you are as a friend, relative, employee, co-worker, student; those about finances, your success, achievements, your physical appearance, emotional stability, self-esteem, etc. There are tons of stories that we tell ourselves all the time. Some of them are positive and inspire us to do wonderful things in life. For example, the story about how you are a wonderful, caring, and compassionate daughter and friend. If this is your story, you know how it can fuel you to do kind and caring things for the people you love.
And some stories are negative and can sabotage us from changing our lives for the better.
For example, the story about how you were never a good friend because you used to be shy and isolate yourself, or the story about how you are a fraud because you got your first job (and every subsequent promotion) because your mom owns the company. These stories on repeat in our minds prevent us from taking action to do good things, for ourselves and others.
There’s good news though. It’s just a story. And stories can be rewritten.
How do you rewrite your story?
First, identify the area of your life that feels heavy, and you want to change. And, write down what you’re telling yourself about it. Yes, write the current bad story. This one will be titled “My Old Story about ________ (fill in the blank).”
Next, write a new story. This represents the ideal state and how you want your current story (soon to be the old story) to be different. If it’s a story about you being a fraud, write down all your accomplishments, all the things you’re good at, what makes you unique, and what your strengths are. If you’re having trouble identifying these things, ask some people who love you – they can help. If it’s the story about being a bad friend, write about the friend you want to be to others and all the characteristics of good friends you admire. Title this story “My New Story about _______(fill in the blank).”
Now, read your new story every day for as long as it takes for it to become more familiar than your old story. What we fill our head with is ultimately what propels us into action. If you’re constantly reminding yourself what a bad friend you are, guess what? You’re not going to be motivated to do too much to be a good friend to anyone. But you have a new story you’ve written, and when the old negative story arises (and it will, especially I the beginning) you can remind yourself you have a new story to tell yourself. Eventually, if you stick with your new story long enough, it will become dominant. As your internal story changes, so do your actions, and so do the visible results you create in your life.
The stories in our head are powerful. You want good stories – those that energize you to take positive actions and create positive change in your life. If you have a story on repeat in your brain that’s dragging you down, remember that it’s just a story, and some stories are meant to be rewritten.