What is the story you tell about yourself? All of us have ongoing narratives that play in our mind twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. These stories play while we go through our days, and even while we sleep at night. In fact, Bruce Lipton, a renowned biologist and pioneer in epigenetics has stated that “Ninety-five percent of the time, our life is controlled by the beliefs and habits that are programmed in the subconscious mind.”
As we go through life, the things that happen to us and around us find their way into these ongoing narratives that live in our minds and get communicated to everyone around us. Storytelling is what our life does, and it helps us connect with audiences (read more here).
The problem is, sometimes we need a new narrative. When we start to see old patterns repeating themselves, or when we feel stuck with no way out, chances are the story we’ve been playing in our minds is no longer an effective one.
Not only does this affect our personal lives, but it also affects how we will be perceived in business endeavors, especially as coaches, consultants, and entrepreneurs. We want to ooze confidence and success, not failure and insecurity.
A poor narrative sends all the wrong messages. How do you change that lifelong story you’ve constructed?
Out with the Old
Throughout the course of our lives, we construct these narratives to help us cope with life, help us achieve goals, or relate to others. There were crucial moments when those old narratives we wrote served a purpose.
We needed them, and they may have worked for us at that time. But as life moves forward, and the circumstances and people around us change, those old narratives can become obsolete and actually keep us from reaching new goals.
Sometimes, we need to look at why we wrote that story before we can write a new one. Did you begin a particular way of thinking to get you through an intense period at work or difficulty in the family?
That may have been effective and even necessary at the time, but it may not work in the long run as you move towards new challenges. Taking a moment to acknowledge the ‘why’ behind the old narrative can go a long way to help you let it go and create a new one.
Another key to identifying older narratives is to learn to harness the power of silence. Due to the fast-paced technology-centered times we live in, it’s far too rare for most of us to take a few quiet moments to just sit and think.
We need time without the world’s noise in order to notice the story that’s playing in our minds.
It can feel strange at first, but it’s imperative to identify ways of thinking that are working against our current goals. Listen to the voice in your head. Is it self-sabotaging and borderline abusive or is it confident and empowering?
Is it dreaming and creating new things, or replaying the disappointments of the past? Whatever the case, what you are thinking is the story you are telling clients, family, and friends as well. Taking time to notice will be a crucial step in writing something new.
In with the New
Once we’ve identified old patterns, we need to tell ourselves a new story. Sometimes, this takes a bit of creativity.
I recommend taking some time to daydream. What kind of person would you be if you could start all over? How would you like to see yourself and your life? How would you like others to see you?
Keep in mind as you think through these questions that you can create the future you desire if you are willing to do what it takes to get there.
Remember the famous quote from Albert Einstein “Imagination is everything. It is the preview to life’s coming attractions.”
In addition to using your imagination, take some time to brainstorm some thought alternatives to your most repetitive thoughts.
For example, If you noticed that the current narrative you’re facing is something along the lines of “I’m a failure,” make a shortlist of other options to replace that thought with. You could tell yourself “I’ve tried a lot of things and learned a lot in the process” instead.
Planning ahead of time will be more effective when challenging old thoughts arise.
Surround Yourself with Support for Success
There’s one more important key that I want to mention to you for success while you are creating a new narrative.
How successful do you really think you’re going to be in writing a brand-new narrative if you are surrounded by people who only see the worst in you?
Sometimes even well-meaning friends and family can hold us back by thinking they already have us figured out. Rewriting the story you tell yourself requires freedom to become someone new.
Not everyone is going to help with that. Take a look around and ask yourself who is ready to support you in this, and who is not. If some familiar voices are holding you back, you may need some healthier boundaries or in some cases, distance.
Set yourself up for success by finding a tribe that will pull out the best in you. Getting together with like-focused people who challenge you and hold you accountable will make sure your success isn’t short-lived.
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