The stories we tell ourselves
A friend of mine gently confronted me the other day about a story I’ve been telling, and retelling myself about why I can’t accomplish several professional goals I’ve set, but haven’t been able to get much traction on.
We all have stories we tell ourselves and that we believe with all our hearts–to our own detriment.
I’m dyslexic, too old, too young, too dumb, under-qualified, overqualified, don’t have time, can’t find a partner, don’t have the money.
The stories start out as simple and perfectly logical explanations for why we can’t get married, write a book, learn an instrument, travel to India, start a social movement, change our brand, start a new venture. Our minds, slave to fear and resistance, craft entire narratives around these excuse to keep us from getting off our duffs and taking action.
The stories we tell about other people
Did you hear about Rowena? She’s having an affair with her best friend Sally’s husband. I think we should say something to Sally.
Gossip is storytelling as its juiciest–and potentially most harmful. On the surface, it’s fun. Some of us get a twisted sense of superiority, talking about other people’s lives. Gossip fills empty airtime and makes it seem like I’m having real conversation, when in fact I’m attempting to connect with the person in front of me at another person’s expense. Yuck.
Funny thing, the stories we’d be better off without are usually lies, or at best half-truths. But we want to believe them. They’re intriguing or convenient, or they give us the illusion of connection or safety.
But we can rewrite these stories.
For example: Kindness and presence of mind, not gossip, create authentic human connection. Or how about a new narrative that shows us we’re capable of far more than the past or financial situations seem to dictate. In fact, we can add create that new product line, expand into new markets, or redefine our personal brand so that it’s more honest, and more meaningful.
What story would you like to rewrite?