Everyone loves a good story! The more elaborate the better in some cases. They are a great way of getting a message across to others and yourself too. However, are you aware of what stories you are telling yourself? Take a moment to think about it. Are you telling yourself positive or negative stories? Maybe your story is that you can’t lose weight because you’re too busy to exercise, it’s your age, or because of that medical condition - real or imagined? Or perhaps you’re always broke, because your story is you can’t or don’t know how to make money and you don’t understand how money or business works anyway.
To make yourself feel comfortable, you may create stories as to why you can’t lose weight, make money or whatever it is you (secretly) want to achieve. These stories might make you feel better for a moment or may even be familiar, but in certain cases, they can make you feel low, lack self-esteem and may mean you become dependent on other people rather than make any changes you need to make. You possibly get attention from friends & family and they may offer you help. This may make you feel loved or looked after for a while, but it’s only temporary and not sustainable long term. This way of thinking becomes a habit and you give up responsibility for yourself and consequently, give up your dreams. By continuing this you believe you are avoiding failure because you have a ‘good’ story as to why you are in your situation. You become a victim.
When things go wrong, it’s so easy to blame others or circumstances rather than taking responsibility for your situation. You might feel you can’t take what you see as a risk to change your story, because it would make all your stories false, maybe even make you a ‘liar’, even if just to yourself. Does this sound and feel familiar? If it does, then it’s time to STOP and consider other options. Did you know you can reframe the way you think and feel about your life by doing a simple exercise? Working out how you are sabotaging your life and acknowledging that nothing will change, until you gently start to re-write your stories is one of the starting points towards a successful, happier life and business. It’s easy and very do-able.
To do this, take some time out and get yourself into a relaxing environment, somewhere you feel safe. It’s important to be in a different space to do work like this so there’s no negative people or energy around you. This might be going for a walk in the countryside or by the beach and finding a bench, tree stump or rock to sit on. Perhaps go along to your favourite local coffee shop, simply be in your garden or, sitting under a tree in the park. Whatever works for you! Wherever you decide to go, grab your journal and a pen (one that works, remember… no more stories!) and complete the following exercise. It can be a little challenging to think about this, but be brave.
Ask yourself the following questions and write the answers down in your journal:
1. What are the main stories I’m telling myself? Be honest! Write a much as you want.
2. Re-read them, then ask yourself, which story makes me feel the most powerless?
3. Read the selected one again, what emotions come up for you? Write them down. Can you identify another time in your life when you felt like this? (This may be significant. If these feelings are negative, acknowledge them and forgive the persons/people/event involved and feel gratitude for the learning experience. If this is a biggie for you, and it can be for a few people, get some help from someone you trust or from a qualified counsellor, therapist or NLP practitioner.)
4. Think about this story. How could you change it to have a positive impact on you?
5. Be creative and write this re-framed story down!
As an example, a client I work with was struggling to achieve goals we had set. She shared with me was that when she was a little girl, her lone mother worked hard but did not earn much money. Her mother always bought second-hand clothes saying said she would never ‘waste’ money on new clothes for her. This made the little girl feel insignificant and not worthy. When she grew up, she worked hard and became a successful entrepreneur earning an income that put her in the top one-percent earners in the UK. But even though she could buy anything she wanted, she always wore charity shop clothes believing she was not worthy of new ones. Her lifelong story at that point was that she was not significant and worthy enough to have new clothes and therefore not worthy of other achievements either. This was holding her back from achieving her bigger goals.
We worked on her story and reframed it so that she could think differently. And it worked… Her story now is that her protective mother was doing her best for her and prioritised paying the bills on their home to keep them both safe, housed and fed, something she had not considered as a child. Once she had acknowledged this, forgiven and felt grateful for her mother’s nurturing care she was able to go forward and smash more goals than ever before. Her mindset shift has been amazing and her story no longer defines her. She now always looks fabulous and even has a personal stylist on her team who takes her out shopping every season for new outfits!
“Words are how we think; stories are how we link.”
Your feelings, especially wanting to feel valued, come from a collection of stories gathered during your lifetime from childhood to becoming an adult and we can revert to our childhood stories, but that does come at the expense of long-term growth. Once you’ve completed the exercise above, and you may want to do it a few times, think about how you’d really like your life to be. Think about how even a small change in your story can be a start. Keep mentally re-writing it until it is a positive, self-helping story that gives you permission to achieve whatever you want. Give yourself permission to be you in your best form. Stories can be changed and imagine what you could achieve with positive stories to rely on. Is it time you changed yours?
Catherine is an experienced Global Entrepreneurs Coach and a Licensed Neuro Linguistic Practitioner (NLP) having been trained by the co-founder of NLP, Richard Bandler. If you would like to apply to have coaching with Catherine, please fill in the contact form on catherinemcguire.com and we will get back to you to arrange an appointment.