Stories, stories….everybody has stories. Some are inspiring, some are dismal, some are…well, there are about as many kinds of stories people have about themselves as there are people.

What do I mean by “stories”? I’m talking specifically about the things that we tell ourselves about ourselves, the little tales that we’ve come up with or heard from others about who we think we really are. The often repeated and therefore often accepted and believed “truths” that have amassed over the amount of time we’ve spent hanging out here on planet earth.

Sometimes stories help us share parts of our life, help people get to know us, and help us make real connections. Sometimes they help us show our brilliance in a deep and relatable way. And there’s nothing better than sharing the real and unabashed you with the world.

But there are some self-talk parables that don’t always have quite that same effect.

These are the ones that might’ve been hanging around for decades….the ones that might’ve been picked up at any point and for whatever reason were made part of the every day mind chatter. Whether they were true or not. The ones that tend to slow you down, give you pause when you start to dream too big, or tell you “no” when you prepare to embark on something that you’ve always dreamt of doing. The ones that tend to bully you–even if you happen to be the one telling them to yourself.

Now, how did THAT happen?

Well, don’t feel singled out if it does creep up on you. Really–it gets us ALL at some point! But here’s the thing…no tale of woe, of incompetence, fear, or ANYTHING like that needs to take center stage and steal the show from the most beautiful and brilliant person that you are. It’s YOUR show. And you can direct it any way that you please.

One way to get that show on the road today is to take a little bit of inventory of the “script”, shall we say! In other words….take a look at some of your long-standing beliefs about yourself. The tales you’ve heard about you from others, the stories you’ve told yourself about yourself, and ask yourself this: are they still true? Were they ever true? Is it time for them to be “written out” of the story?

When I was in grade school many MANY moons ago, I stumbled over multiplication tables. And long division. And fractions. And anything involving numbers. I was told my my teachers that I just needed to slow down and stop making “silly mistakes”. But no matter, I just started to believe that I “just wasn’t good at math”. And of course, I was the only one in the classroom who struggled, right? Hmph!

Flash forward to just several moons ago (haha!) when I started college. I found myself failing a Pre-calculus course, dropping it for the sake of my GPA, and wondering how I was ever going to pass. Still “not good at math”, right? So I signed up for another section the next semester and hoped for the best.

What happened next was a bit of a miracle….

The most amazing teacher came into my world. She was warm, empathetic, and yet clear and thorough in teaching us the crazy numbers navigation that would get us ready for the more advanced math we were required to take. For once in my life I had a math teacher I could resonate with, I found myself relaxing and focusing on the numbers..and I could finally see how they all worked.

And I also began to discover a natural knack for numbers in the most practical way. Yes, I really was “good at math”….I just needed to drop the story that I wasn’t and just let it be exactly as it was…and let myself be exactly who I was. And I could do this without being berated, yelled at, or demeaned by anybody–not my teachers, not my tutors, and definitely NOT myself.

And THAT was when it occurred to me–I’m great at math! Why did I ever believe that I wasn’t??

Then it occurred to me that it might’ve had something to do with my telling myself a tall tale from EONS ago. From that point on, I started seeing these erroneous dissertations for what they really were. Simply outdated information in need of an “upgrade”.  No more, no less. Certainly nothing to get worked up about. Just something to drop.

Did I drop all of my negative stories magically just like that? Of course not. But did I see them for what they were, and when they came up, I let them do their thing and then move along? Yes. And when they were gone, they were replaced, updated, and upgraded to best version of me available.

I’m not telling you to disregard everything you know about you. What has happened to us all has been for a reason, and the biggest reason of all is to point you toward seeing the person that you REALLY are–and helping you see what the REAL story is.

This can be a particular kind of challenge for entrepreneurs-to-be. If you’re not careful, you can find yourself drowning in a sea of stories before you even start. Maybe you believe that you could never make any money at a business because you come from a long line of employees. Maybe you believe that you’re just not as good as all of the other people out there doing it because you were never the best at anything at school. Maybe you’ve just never been creative (or so you’ve been told) so why try to create something new at such a big risk?

The key is to look at the stories–which contain all of the beliefs–and figure out what isn’t serving you anymore. What is the story, and is it still true? Or are you ready to become a new version of you, the one who knows who you really are?

Try This:

-What are some of the ideas you’ve always told yourself about yourself? Just jot a few down if you like.

-Now, look at where you are right now. Be still and look inward. Then consider this: are any of these stories true? Were they ever, are they now?

-Consider what you really want, where you want to be, what you want to be doing, how much you want to start that business (or any other desire you might have), and ask yourself: are these stories serving me right now? Are they in line with who you are and where you’re going? Are they pushing you forward or holding you back?

-Based on the newest and most brilliant version of you, what would you like to replace the old information with? What would the new version of the story be?  Write that down and see how that feels for you. Is it more uplifting, more honest, more exciting?

Of course, there will be moments when the old recordings start playing again. But they don’t have to derail you indefinitely, even if they do for a while. Here’s a tip about dropping your story from the one and only Marie Forleo: (A paraphrase, my apologies!) When you find yourself telling the same story…AGAIN…just stop. Simply stop. Don’t scold yourself for doing it, don’t judge or berate yourself, just..stop. Just drop it. Don’t fight with it. Just “thank it for sharing” and let it be on its way.

So how did that work for you? Do you ever find yourself feeding your soul with outdated information? Are you ready to take your personal tale to a whole new place, a place that helps you expand, grow, and make those business and life dreams come true?

I thought so!

So what stories have you been holding on to? Anything you’re ready to let go for good? Or maybe you have some amazing tales that DO bring joy into your world and help you move through every day with the greatest of ease. Tell me all about either or both!

 

11 Comments on What If Your Stories About Yourself Weren’t All True? (And How Cool Would That Be?)

  1. Merri
    September 16, 2015 at 10:16 am (2 years ago)

    Wonderful! How exciting and refreshing to see all our stories about ourselves as “just information” … Not judgments! Excellent! 😀. My latest discovery?? After a long time, I have discovered that “NO!” is a complete sentence…and it is quite okay to say it !🌞

    Reply
    • Jennifer
      September 16, 2015 at 10:36 am (2 years ago)

      It’s quite a liberating thing, isn’t it? It is wonderful to know that not only is it OK to drop old stories, but also that you can create new and empowering ones to replace them any time!

      Reply
  2. Maggie
    September 17, 2015 at 1:23 pm (2 years ago)

    A few years ago, I went to a retreat, and I uncovered some key stories that I’d been carrying around with me for as long as I could remember. They boiled down to these 3 statements: It’s not to have needs, I’m not worth it, and I’m doing it wrong. I’ve done some transformative work, and while I haven’t discarded these stories, I’ve gotten much better at identifying them and stepping around the holes that I just fall into when I got triggered by them. Change is possible! Progress feels good!

    Reply
    • Jennifer
      September 18, 2015 at 12:27 pm (2 years ago)

      Yes, that’s what it’s all about, Maggie! Knowing what you’re dealing with and how to handle it is such a great gift, because only then can something actually be done about it. Always about progress here! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Conny
    September 19, 2015 at 5:29 pm (2 years ago)

    I had some challenging events in my childhood and the stories around them still boil back up and haunt me. Your post is a good reminder to be more aware of it again. Words can be such weapons of destruction, and the stories we tell ourselves are usually the worst of that kind. This reminds me of something that Byron Katie says, it goes something like this: they did you wrong once, or said something hurtful once and then it was over, we could go back to our happy self. But we play it over and over in our mind. Who is the worse offender then? The person that said this hurtful thing to you once or you, that is telling it to yourself over and over?

    Reply
    • Jennifer
      September 20, 2015 at 4:20 pm (2 years ago)

      So totally true, Conny! Being kind to ourselves and silencing the negative self-talk can be a great challenge, but it can be done…and as you said, bringing awareness to it without judgement is the best place to start. And what a wonderful quote from Byron Katie, I hadn’t heard that one before! Thank you for sharing that one.

      Reply
  4. Roisin
    September 21, 2015 at 4:27 am (2 years ago)

    Great post! In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, this idea that stories are just words in our heads that we tell ourselves and are not necessarily true is called defusion. It’s something I like to practice as much as possible. I’ve got a few old stories that crop up time and time again. The biggest offender is the “I’m not good enough” story. It’s nasty, but at least I know it’s not true (most of the time….)

    Reply
    • Jennifer
      September 22, 2015 at 10:38 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you, Roisin! And I am sure that a LOT of us can relate to the “not good enough” story….another one of my, er, “favorites” is “I’m a fraud”….especially when it comes to business! Glad you appreciated the post!

      Reply
  5. Misti
    September 22, 2015 at 3:58 am (2 years ago)

    I just had a friend of my sister reach out to me for guy advice- and I spent some time talking to her about the inner dialogues we have that spiral out of control. She gets instant anxiety about new relationships because she’s had a few bad ones. I encouraged her to give herself a redirect- when she starts telling herself the same old tale, she needs to recognize it, accept it for what it is, and then redirect herself elsewhere. Everyone’s redirect is different. I love the idea of just looking at it as information that needs to be updated. I am not who I was twenty years ago, or even two years ago. Some of the mindfulness I’m working on would benefit much by realizing that I’m just in need of an upgrade! 🙂

    Reply
    • Jennifer
      September 22, 2015 at 10:40 am (2 years ago)

      Exactly, Misti! That’s a beautiful example of this kind of technique in practice, and you shared with your sister’s friend something that she can use for so many things, including relationships!. So glad that you appreciated the post!

      Reply
  6. Wenda
    September 24, 2015 at 9:46 pm (2 years ago)

    Having changed jobs an amazing amount of times, I was reflecting on how different employers had different stories about me … who I was and how I was. More interesting still is how often I have felt *compelled* to live up to whatever people’s perception of me is in a particular situation. It can be particularly abdicating of my own power to just be the person the latest group thinks I am. I strongly prefer your suggestion to tell our own stories. Perhaps even these aren’t “true” (perhaps no stories about how I am are always true), but just as I have aligned myself with bad stories about I am, I can tell myself stories I prefer and align to those. Why not? They are my stories to tell.

    Reply

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