What stories are you telling yourself that are holding you back?

mindset Feb 05, 2020

It’s National Storytelling Week this week and I love a good story – whether that’s in a book or film – I love getting lost in the characters and events as they unfold.

Stories are great but what about the stories we tell ourselves and lead us to getting stuck in patterns of behaviour or limiting what we believe we can do, so leaving us in inaction.

The problem with the stories we tell ourselves is that they can be restrictive.  They can have us believe things that aren’t necessarily true.  We always look for the evidence to back up what we believe, to support them rather than evidence that contradicts.  You just have to think about some of the health stories over recent years to see how stories can change the view of something.

We look for evidence to back our story.

Let’s look at red wine 🍷. I picked this because I know it is a food/drink that has had lots of press over the years for different reasons.  A 2 minute google search came up with the following list of health headlines about red wine:

  • can slow brain ageing

  • can increase cancer risk

  • can increase fertility

  • may be good for your teeth

  • a glass a day could be good for people with type 2 diabetes

These are just a selection of the headlines out there.    Whoever was writing about red wine in these terms will have looked for evidence in their research to back their point of view. And we do the same.

Whatever story we are telling ourselves or belief we are holding, we will look for evidence in our life to back that up.  Statements that aren’t necessarily true and that others would not view the same way.  An example from my own life – I had a big hang up on speaking in public, speaking on video and while I’m still out of my comfort zone doing it I have managed to change the story I tell myself.  I was focusing on the belief I can’t do this and ignoring evidence that was to the contrary.  I ignored the fact that I had in fact spoken in public on a number of occasions – presentations at university, leading meetings for sub-committees in my role as school governor, presentations at work, been an active member of various club committees my children have been involved in and probably the biggest for me was speaking at my mum’s funeral.

Change your focus, change your story.

By changing my focus, I have changed my story. 

We can choose to change our story and leave our stories from the past there.

Where do your stories come from? 

It could be from childhood, an innocuous comment made by someone, society views. They could be from an event that happened – but that doesn’t mean the same thing will happen again.

My story about public speaking dates to a comment someone made about my voice when I was 5, yes 5.  It wasn’t even about my speaking qualities, (funnily enough at that age we hadn’t engaged in much public speaking😂) more about the pitch of my voice. Ridiculous, but it made me self- conscious to talk in public which then lead to me believing I couldn’t do it.  In order to change my belief, I had to change my thoughts around my speaking.

As Mel Wells says “question the stories you tell yourself. You get to decide what you choose to believe. You are writing the story of your life.”

Thoughts become perception, perception becomes reality. Alter your thoughts, alter your reality.

What stories are you telling yourself?

Is there a story you’re telling yourself that is holding you back – something you believe you can’t do?  Ask yourself where it came from. Ask yourself if it’s true.  What’s the evidence?  Can you find evidence to support an opposing view?  I’m not saying all stories are easy to change, but it’s worth unpicking them, putting in the work to move forward.

Change and challenge your beliefs, which will change your story and lead to changes in behaviours and actions. Be the hero of your story and see where it takes you.

“If you are not the hero of your own story, then you’re missing the whole point of your humanity.”

Read more about how changing my thoughts and stories lead to me doing things I never thought I would - “Stepping out of your comfort zone”

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