If I had listened to the story my friends and family thought about me I would not have become a Encouragement Leader or launched my website. I would not have changed my life. I had been seriously ill for a very long time. It was only fair they thought that, but it wasn’t me (another way to see your story is how someone perceives you or how you perceive yourself).
When I was ill in bed I read a lot of personal development books. The inspirational stuff at that time did not resonate. It seemed a lot of it presupposed that you had education, money and health behind you. It didn’t help me. It made me angry, in a good way.
Don’t forget to read Part One Change Your Story To Change Your Life. In Part One of this series I talk about the positive and negative memory formation. It is a crucial accompaniment to this article. You can get Part Three – Your Inner Critic here.
So, I followed that fiercest of feelings. I decided to make my own encouragement and inspiration. I was housebound and too sick to write anything long. But I was well enough to write 140 characters (the length of a tweet). So, that’s what I did. There is always a way to shimmy out between a rock and a hard place.
I wrote quotes and insights and musings that spoke to a universal truth. I tried hard everytime to connect with this truth when I wrote. I wanted my quotes to work no matter how rich or poor your country, no matter how good or bad your health or your level of education. Since then a lot of people have copied my style. At the time it was different.
I could have gotten sucked into the way society treated me and spoke to me – as an invalid. I could have believed their reality, and the way people are conditioned to see ill people. My opinions and wisdom not being heard, dismissed.
However, I chose not to.
My story that pulled me through, that changed my life.
It went something like this,
“They know nothing of my suffering, and having everything taken away from me. They have no idea how to live without health, work, money and with severe isolation. As a result, I’ve gone through so much spiritual and personal growth. I now see things so differently. Bless their cotton socks, they have no idea what they are talking about. I am so much more stronger and resilient than the vast majority out there.
If I can create a life out of nothing with nothing than imagine what I’ll do when life’s riches start to flow again. I’ve had to be amazingly resourceful with very little. Things that freak people out, like losing a job are small ripples for me. I’ve dealt with much worse. What ever I choose to do next. I know deep inside I’ll manage to figure it all out.“
Now, sometimes when I’m feeling low another story creeps in. It goes something like this,
“I haven’t worked properly in a long time. I have no skills and not enough experience. How could I ever get a website up? Sure, I’ve done some teaching but what good is that to me? And I’m such a slow writer from being out of the workforce. I’ll never keep up with creating great content. I have no tech skills to manage a website, and what if I don’t know enough to write a great article?”
This story makes me feel helpless. And this is a big clue. If your story makes you doubt yourself, shrink inside or makes you feel down in any way then this story is not serving you. It is limiting you in ways you do not yet understand.
I still have days where I feel overwhelmed or nothing seems to work. My empowered story guides me on the good and bad days.
Consequences For Trusting A Limiting Story
Let’s see the consequences for believing the wrong story about yourself.
At Duke University, USA, 40 freshman students who were struggling badly with grades were placed into two separate groups. In the first group, steps were taken to change their internal narrative about their low grades.
They saw videos of previous graduates, who talked about how their grades improved over time. They were also given information about how freshman struggle in their first year. The second group received no input about their low grades.
Students later sat an exam and the first group got better grades. Over the long term, the first group’s grades continued to improve and their average went up. Their drop out rate was 5% compared to the second group which was 20%. Read more about the research in the New York Times.
The story they attached to their low grades changed. As a result, their academic results significantly improved.
Can you imagine where I would be right now if I had believed the invalid story? I would not have grown my twitter following to over 240,000 followers. I would not have launched my website. I love writing and photography, and now I get to do both. I would not have trusted that I have something to share with the world. I would still be dealing with all the naysayers and people only too eager to unknowingly put me down. My confidence and trust in myself would be low.
We all have different versions floating around in our head of what a situation is. The defeating story can easily happen when we feel low, fail at something, don’t get enough sleep, are ill. Sometimes it even happens when your blood sugar levels get too low!
When I mentally pick myself up, gather my courage together and make a fierce determination then I make huge strides in life.
~ That moment when I change gears ~
it always starts with how I talk to myself
the miserable changes into a fierce loving and powerful self talk
When you feel at your worst
gather your courage together
Sing your truest story
Sing it loud in your mind.
turn that situation around
~ and Rise Regardless ~
Fierce, self loving, joy, determination everytime. This is the energy you bring to it.
If you don’t have a powerful story you are holding yourself back. How you perceive yourself will affect your outcome. It’s that simple.
When Change Has Stalled It’s Time To Change Your Story
This can happen when you have gone through a lot of change or taken yourself to the next level. You suddenly find that you have stalled and you seem to be spinning your wheels. This could easily be because you haven’t created a new story for the next step. Your old story worked but it now needs updating and refreshing. Your old story does not work for you anymore and there is a disconnect. You need to include all your latest achievements into your new story and use them to empower you to take the next step.
It’s time to create your story.
If you haven’t read Part One Change Your Story To Change Your Life you can here. You may also want to read about my search for Bessie when she went missing. Bessie was my Dad’s dog, who became mine when Dad passed. Your Inner Critic is Part Three of the Change Your Story To Change Your Life Series.
Think about a life challenge that is causing you problems.
- Become aware of how you talk to yourself about it. That is, the voice in your head. Awareness is key with any transformation.
- Write down some notes about what you say to yourself. Look for words like, ‘always, never, I can’t, I’m too’. You may be saying things such as:
“This always happens to me.”
“I can never get a partner.”
“I don’t have enough experience or education.”
“All the opportunities out there are gone.”
“I’m too old to change jobs.”
- Write it all down. Your particular song will evoke familiar feelings inside you just like a real song does. Empowering stories make us feel good and powerful. Limiting stories make you feel smaller.
- Rewrite your story in an empowering and truthful way. We are not saying make something up that is all positive and has no basis in reality. Make the story truthful. You will need to shift your perspective to do this. Remember the students who got better grades. They changed their internal narrative to it is usual to have problems with grades when you first start. As a result, they expected their grades to improve.
- Tell yourself the new story a few times out loud. Whenever you hear the old story in your head stop it immediately. Replace it with the new one. This is your new song.
When your internal narrative and actions in the world align, great things start to happen. Your stories are your songs. It is the lullaby that soothes you, gets you back on your feet. It is the rousing anthem that gives you power to take hold of life and Rise Regardless.