Storytelling can be a powerful tool. It grants you the ability to share your values and inspire others.
The interesting thing about stories, however, is that you don’t just tell them to others, you tell them to yourself. These narratives have a direct impact on your actions, behaviors and life.
Let me explain.
The stories I am referring to are those things you tell yourself in your head every day. You may or may not be aware of them, and some may not even be true, but they are reflecting some of your core beliefs about yourself and the world around you.
A good story can empower you to try new things or even do something that gets you out of your comfort zone. But a bad story can do quite the opposite. Some are empowering stories in which you can see possibilities or recognize your talents. Others are disheartening, holding you back or feeding your anger.
To get a better sense of what I am talking about, think back to the Cherokee legend of the two wolves. A grandfather tells his grandson about the internal fight going on inside him between two wolves. One is evil and the other is good. The one that becomes more powerful is the one he feeds.
How To Become More Aware Of Your Stories
Your own stories come about in a few different ways. They can show up in the language you use or in the narratives you tell others. Try to notice what you say the most to others when you talk about yourself. Are you the hero or are you the victim in what you say? Which wolf are you choosing to feed in your life?
Stories can also show up when you are anticipating upcoming events. How often do you overthink situations or try to play out all scenarios ahead of time in your mind? In situations like this, stories can become self-fulfilling prophecies.
Here is a simple exercise to start noticing some of your internal storytelling. Grab a pack of Post-It notes and jot down the word “NOTICE” in big bold letters on a dozen stickers. Put these around your house and office space.
During the day, every time you see one, take a moment to notice what’s going on in your head at that time. What patterns do you see? What are some of the things you’re thinking about most? Are you telling yourself a story that’s fictional or true?
What To Do About Your Stories
Think about the impact these stories have on your life. One of the ways to deal with them is to rewrite them and allow them to become more empowering or healthy for you. Another way is to become more mindful of when a story is kicking in and affecting your perspective.
We all have stories going on in our heads, it’s part of being human. Becoming aware of our own narratives allows us to be more intentional in our life. It allows us to choose to react a certain way instead of reacting by instinct alone.
One of my friends used to tell me, “Change how something occurs to you, and change your reality.” What could be different for you if you let go of certain stories instead of feeding them?
What are the stories you tell yourself the most? How can you rewrite these to make them more useful and supportive in your life? How can you let go of the ones that discourage you most?