The Stories We Tell Ourselves

“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine you create.”

– Buddha

Earlier this month I was fortunate to see Layne Beachley present at the Business Women Albury Wodonga Annual Gala evening. Within the opening five minutes of her presentation, I was in tears. She was relaying her story of the passing of her adopted mother when she was a small child. The story of loss struck a chord in me, having lost my own mother just over a year ago now.

Stories can be so powerful. Stories (often about simple things) shared in a relatable way, can elicit from us unexpected emotional responses. It’s a joyful experience to hear others tell their stories, to be taken on their journeys through the deep waters of tragedy and struggle, to arrive at the successes and what’s most important to me, the lessons they learned along the way. I am privileged enough to listen to other people’s stories, not just at events such as this one, but in my chosen profession and generally in my day-to-day life.

As a daughter, mother and business owner I could relate to the stories Layne shared. Her stories were my stories, the same narrative that I share with myself on a daily basis. I am not good enough, fit enough, smart enough, strong enough, what I do and what I have achieved is really nothing special. What could I possibly have to share that someone else may find interesting or even useful?

When we are telling ourselves these types of stories, it’s no surprise we are often reluctant to share the tale of our journeys of triumph and tragedy with others. We convince ourselves that our experiences and the lessons we have learned are not valuable (or worthy) enough to share.

That’s what makes a story so powerful; that is, how relatable it is and it is often the simple, seemingly insignificant things that are the most relatable and have the most impact.

Hearing Layne share some of her experiences, her trials and successes, prompted me to look within myself and examine the stories I tell myself. After all, the most influential and powerful stories are the ones we tell ourselves. This inner dialogue sets the scene for how we live our lives. We subconsciously look for and manifest evidence in our daily interactions to support the messages we are telling ourselves.

What I discovered was, my narrative with myself was appalling. When I became aware of what that really looked like for me, I was shocked and quite disturbed. I knew I was my loudest critic but once I really started to pay attention to what I was telling myself, it turned out the criticism and lack of faith and belief I had in myself ran deeper than I thought.

Why would I speak to myself in this way? I would never speak to someone else in this way. The answer to that question is not entirely clear but what did become clear were the consequences of the conversations I was having with myself.

I was telling myself I was not enough. That was focusing my attention on and presenting evidence to me that everything I did, said and felt was in fact, not enough. My life was reinforcing the picture I was painting for myself that I was not good enough and I was not worthy of joy, love and success.

It was a highly confronting experience. As someone who thinks deeply and spends a considerable amount of time reflecting and introspecting, it came as a shock I had missed this vital piece of the puzzle that was going on in my head.

Awareness creates choice and as choice determines the ultimate outcome, I began to think about what if I was to choose to tell myself a different story? What if I changed the narrative in my own mind to simply say “I am enough” – as I am, just me, in all of my flawed beauty and uniqueness, I am enough and I am worthy of joy, love and success? How would that change my perspective on the world and what I consciously and unconsciously seek out to reinforce those beliefs?

With this newfound awareness, I set myself a challenge, to replace every negative, derogatory, doubting and critical thought I had of myself with the simple statement “I am enough”. The first day of my little experiment I must have said these words, in my head and aloud, at least a couple of hundred times. It was exhausting but a mere two weeks later, having repeated the same process every day, I can count on just two hands how many times I have to tell myself “I am enough” daily.

The result for me has been noticeable in that I feel more relaxed and less anxious. I am more confident and capable to ask of people the things I need to in order to get the clarity I require, so I can tell myself the right stories about what is going on in my world rather than the ones I make up in my own head.

What do you need to do to find the courage to look within and examine the stories you are telling yourself? What are the new stories you need to be telling yourself?

Guide To Thrive Resource: My Daily Mantra

“I am” statements are mindset adjusters. They redirect our thoughts and perspective. If we are using positive “I am” statements like “I am enough”, we focus on the good within ourselves. Remember, a belief is simply a thought that we repeat over and over! Use our Guide to Thrive resource to help you figure out what “I am” statements you need to be repeating to yourself.

Download Thrive Guide – My Daily Mantra – Sample

Download Thrive Guide – My Daily Mantra – Template