Do you ever make up stories?
I bet you do. A lot.
Most people do.
- Everyone I know handles this better than I do. They just sit down and do it without all the crap I go through every time.
- This sucks. __________ ’s business is going like gangbusters. She never even has to work that hard at it.
- I’m not good at anything! Everything I do ends up a mess.
Isn’t it funny how quickly we can go into these absolutes? Always, never, everything, nothing. Let’s face it. We all have a bit of the drama king/queen in us.
Recently, I ended up unexpectedly driving my daughter to a university an hour from our house for the course she’s taking this summer. Fortunately, it happened on a day when I planned to do a lot of writing, so I didn’t have any clients scheduled. It wasn’t a big deal and the time together was lovely.
As I sat at the school working while she was in class, I discovered myself creating a story. It was about how much more work my accountability buddy was getting done because she blah blah blah.
Happily, this story didn’t get very far before I saw what I was doing. I teach people how to spot their stories, so I’ve had a lot of practice. And still, I started to walk down that road. It’s easy to do.
I remember how vigilant I was when my children were about choosing the books we read. Were they positive and upbeat? Did the characters speak to each other respectfully? Did the story build up the characters (and reader), or tear them down?
You see, I knew that the things I exposed my children to mattered. First of all, I wanted them to have as many models of healthy, loving relationships as I could give them.
Secondly, I knew that the kinds of stories we read affected their self-image, their feelings, their sense of safety and belonging and, yes, their energy.
This is true for the stories you tell yourself, too.
Are they positive and upbeat?
Do you speak to yourself respectfully – like you’d want someone to talk to your child or best friend?
Do your stories build you up and make you feel better about yourself?
Do they build up others and show them in their best light?
Now, I want to be clear about this. I’m not talking about being happy and upbeat all the time, no matter how you really feel. This isn’t about spending your days skipping around and singing in fields of daisies.
Stuff happens. Deadlines come up. People don’t do what they said they’d do. Bills need to be paid. You will get frustrated and upset and angry at times. It’s important to be real.
What I’m talking about is how you talk to yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed or discouraged or worried.
Read these statements:
- This day sucks! I’m not getting anything done.
- There’s so much to do here, I’ll never get through it all.
- I hate making these calls. I get so nervous and sound like an idiot.
- I knew she’d say no. It’s always the same. “Sorry, I can’t afford it.”
Do you feel excited and ready to get things done? Of course you don’t. That’s my point.
What you say to yourself matters. A lot.
So be conscious. Use your power for good.
Try saying something like these instead:
- Wow! I’m feeling frustrated. I’ll do one thing so I feel accomplished.
- There’s so much to do here. Deep breath. I’ll make a list, prioritize it, take a break and then start working my way through.
- Oh, I feel so nervous and scared! Deep breath. Relax my shoulders. Ok, I can do this. No matter what they say, I’m proud that I’m getting this done.
- She said no. Rats! I really liked talking to her and know I could help her reach her goals. I wonder what I need to do or say so that she understands the value of what I’m offering her and how it can help. I know someone who’s getting a lot of clients. I go read his website and see how he’s doing it.
Now, I know it’s not always that easy. Here’s why. Picture a sailboat on the water. To make progress, a sailboat has to be able to maneuver to catch the shifts in the wind.
Sometimes, it’s easy to change directions. You turn the wheel, the boat swings around and off you go. That’s like the times when you notice what you’re saying to yourself, reframe it to be more positive, and off you go. No big deal.
Sometimes, though, the wind is blowing hard against the boat and the current is strong. Sometimes seaweed and barnacles are dragging on the bottom of the boat. Sometimes something is caught in the wheel and it won’t turn. Making changes then is a whole other thing.
Fears, resentments, jealousies, worries and unresolved emotional stuff are the things that drag on us, that make it really hard for us to make changes in our lives. That’s when it feels like we’re swimming upstream – making little if any progress.
So the best way to make changes in the way you talk to yourself is to let go of that other stuff. Release its grip so it’s not weighing you down. I can help you with that.
And it’s worth it! Because when you release that old stuff, you’ll find that you’re more productive and more focused. You’ll also have more fun.
Thanks Sara. What is it about these freakin’ stories that makes them seem so real??? I went to the Reiki Alliance gathering a few weeks ago and it was mostly a great experience, even though I often have lots and lots of issues come up when I am in a one week group experience. The last night, I had an old pattern kick in. At least now I recognize it as a pattern, but I really embarrassed myself and have been giving myself fairly relentless shit about it ever since. I feel SO much better just reading what you wrote. OH, that came up again, I can do a TAT on it and then it will go.
I knew that by myself, but thanks for the help, because I was having a little trouble hearing it from my own mouth. I think it felt so big I didn’t want to to do TAT alone on it, and yet, I didn’t even try or ask Dick, my go to TAT buddy, to help me.
Have a wonderful trip helping all those people deal with all that comes up doing intense work in a group. They are blessed to have you there.
Hi, Sukoshi. Thanks so much for your comments. I, too, find it helpful to be reminded of what I know!
So often, what happens to us – including what we do – isn’t nearly as important as the judgments we make about it. This comes out in what we say about it.
If we label something as “humiliating” or “stupid”, that gives it so much more energy and force. Yay, you for seeing how you were doing this and making a change!
Thanks for the reminders, Sara!
I really appreciated the ways in which you reframed the stories above. It helps to see the new pathways illuminated and illustrated for us.
Mahalo nui loa, Patrice
Thank you, Patrice! I’m so glad you found it helpful.
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