We live most of our lives based on the stories we have running through our head each moment. The fact is that our experiences are based on our beliefs and expectations; that is what we filter our life through. I coach clients every day who are trying to change their lives, to recreate their experiences, to make their lives better. And, many of these changes take place by first, changing the story about who you are, what you do, and what’s possible for you.
If you find yourself consistently struggling with something in life, (whether it’s your career, money, relationships, self-esteem, body image… whatever it may be), and you want to stop that struggle, think through the following points:
What story are you telling about this part of your life?
Chances are it’s an old and somewhat negative story: that you’ll always be in debt or struggle to find meaningful work that pays well; that you’re terrible at relationships because your parents got divorced; or, that you’ll never do anything well because this is what your mom told you growing up, or that you’ll never be fit because your entire family is all overweight.
Stories are usually more elaborate than I just described, and it’s important to identify what your story is and whether it’s serving you. If you want to change this part of your life, chances are the story isn’t serving you well.
What’s the new story you could be telling?
This is your opportunity to rewrite your story. It’s a chance to tell it as you want it to be, in a way that serves you well. One of my clients had a story about money that she had learned from her parents and was running through her head for most of her life. It didn’t serve her well and caused her to have debt she never wanted to have. To change her financial situation, she needed to work with a great financial advisor, make some changes to her lifestyle, and change her money story. Writing her new story was an opportunity to let the old story go and decide what the new version would be. How would it feel? Who would she be in that new money story?
Write a new story. And, when you’ve done that, burn the old one.
Remind yourself daily that you’re living a new story.
This is a key point. Most of our stories are decades old, so they tend to be dominant in our minds. It takes time to rewire our brains so that the new stories can be prominent. The best way to do this is to be aware of when your old story shows up, and when it does (because it will), remind yourself of the following: “That’s the old story. I don’t live by that story anymore. I live in my new story.” And then tell the new story.
Changing your story doesn’t automatically change your life. You also need to take the necessary actions, (like my client who was referenced above) that create change in life. However, without changing your internal voice track and writing a new story, those external changes won’t stick. You’ll eventually fall back into your old ways because you’re still telling the old story. To make lasting change in your life, rewriting your story is required. The internal story must shift for the external changes to last. What’s your story? Is it serving you? If not, don’t get stuck in it – you can rewrite it, and once you do, you can choose to live your new story.