We are all storytellers whether we realize it or not. Our stories can be inspiring and teach us valuable lessons… But they can also have negative effects and hold us back in life.
Think, for instance, of people whose stories about themselves are often about things not working out for them. Whatever they try, they fail; the world conspires against them and that’s why they are not someone more successful or happy or fulfilled.
This is not to say that people who tell stories like this are necessarily wrong about their history. There are certainly people whose circumstances do conspire against them. But when people come to identify themselves with the stories about their difficulties, they become their difficulties.
If you’re looking to advance in your career, improve your relationships, or just want to be happier try re-examining the stories you’re telling yourself. You may find that you’re holding yourself back. If so, crafting a better story will help you align your life with your goals and dreams.
Your narrative might be about how you keep procrastinating and how you are not able to stick to a workout routine. Another perspective might be that you’ve closed a big sales deal and have made great progress at work, and that’s taken a priority over exercise, and you are tired and need some rest before you can tackle your fitness goals with vigor.
These are two very different stories about the same situation—it’s about which details you pay attention to, and how you shape the narrative of those details. Now, telling ourselves stories is natural and there’s nothing wrong with it. But if we’re not aware of them, we can’t understand how they shape our success, relationships, happiness, and more.
There are many practices that can help us become aware of the narratives that run in the background of our life. They include meditation, mindful breathing, journaling, deep conversations, just to name a few. Once you identify those stories, start by writing them down and ask yourself: “Which ones are serving me and which ones are holding me back?”
Next, create a clear vision of the story you want to live out. When shaping your vision, make sure it’s in alignment with your core values. (Want to get clear on your core values? Download a free values assessment here.) A good way to start is by asking yourself: “Who am I at my best?”
Above all, remember that the things you tell yourself make all the difference. Don’t limit yourself. Examine your stories and change the ones that no longer serve you. And then create a new story that is in alignment with the vision of the life you want.
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