When you tell others about yourself, what information do you include and what do you choose to leave out?
We all have a story we tell to the world about who we are, what we do, and how we feel. This story is comprised of things we learned growing up; from teachers, parents, siblings, relatives, neighbors, even from local business owners. We absorb and utilize components of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different stories that we listened to or witnessed. These components shaped our belief systems about everything in our perception. They guide us when we relate our personal stories to others. Most importantly, they influence the stories we tell to ourselves.
For example, if we believe a story about our creativity, or lack thereof, then that’s exactly what we are. And that’s the story we pass on to others, and so they adopt that perception when they look at us, as well. When I behave in a certain way, that’s me being the embodiment of my story, that narrative that runs throughout the very fiber of my life. When I say certain things, that’s my personal narrative, and how others perceive me. So if I tell others that I’m an idiot, then I become the very thing I’m speaking. We can convince ourselves of so many things that are likely not true, especially when we choose to believe the stories of ourselves.
When people tell others, “I’m stupid,” that’s the story they choose to believe for themselves because it’s likely they were told that in some way during their most formative years. They continue to tell themselves that story, because it’s what they know.
When we stick to stories that are unhealthy or not in our own best interests, we sabotage our success at anything we aspire to take on. We can change our stories, alter the narrative of our lives, more easily than we imagine we can. Just because someone told us we were stupid at some time in our lives, doesn’t mean that “stupid” continues to define you, if you don’t want it to.
Sometimes it takes a sudden jolt to wake us up, make us realize all the myriad ways in which we hold ourselves back. Successful people are those who have changed their stories, creating a story of redemption and hope out of a personal drama.
One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to learn how to change our personal narrative. If we suffer from depression, it’s not so easy to wake up one day and think, “Hey, I think I’ll stop being depressed today.” It doesn’t work that way. But we can seek help for that depression, and educate ourselves in ways which we can move past it and begin writing a new story for ourselves. Same with abusive relationships in which we might feel we have no options, that no one will love us, so it’s best to just stay where we are, no matter how much it hurts and robs us of our self-respect.
The first step is to recognize what it is you say when you talk to yourself in your mind. Do you continue to agree with that story, or is it time to change it? If you choose change, then find a way to rewrite the narrative of yourself. Ask for help, seek out materials that will guide you on your new path. Libraries are excellent resources for such material. Groups, like the kind you find on Meetup.com can be equally beneficial. Some of us choose therapy, which is another excellent tool.
Whatever it is you choose, tell your best story to yourself until it becomes who you are…and who you want to be.