Most of our time spent speaking is with ourselves – in our head. The conversations are typically in the form of stories that we tell ourselves about situations or things people have said. These seemingly unimportant conversations are one of the fundamental pillars of success.
These stories form increasing levels of positive or negative feelings that fuel our success. Becoming consciously aware of them and then using them to our advantage is an art in itself. It’s art worth mastering though because the conversations we have in our head can bring us so much happiness when we become aware of how to shape them.
Whether you tell yourself you’re right or wrong, you are correct. The brain can’t tell the difference, and it believes what you say. So why wouldn’t you use this to your advantage and tell your brain little white lies to help you develop and become the person you have always wanted to be?
Below are the 4 reasons the stories we tell ourselves matter:
1. We become the stories we tell ourselves
Who we are is a result of our own personal story. The writer of your story is you. So if you write the story, then why can’t you give it a positive meaning? Well, the best part is you can. Ten minutes before writing this article, I got pulled over by the police.
Their big red and blue flashing lights never seem to make you feel good. As the officer came over to me, he asked me what I was up to, and I told him I was on my way to buy foreign currency for my overseas trip. I then told him where I was going and how excited I was.
I looked him in the eye and told him my inspiring story and mentioned how I had thirty minutes to get to my appointment. The officer then asked for my license and for me to do a breath test. Once I handed over my license he went back to his car to do the usual checks and within thirty seconds he came back and said everything was fine.
He told me to have lots of fun on my trip, and he seemed more cheerful than when I first met him. Normally the checks take five minutes, but this officer didn’t feel the need; he even forgot to breathalyze me (not that there was any point because I’ve already given up drinking).
I then went to arrange my foreign currency account and the place I went to told me that they had sold out of what I needed. This was the second day in a row that this had happened to me.
So, instead of doing pissed off (pissed off is something we act out), I walked back to the car and told myself that it was all good. The reason it was all good to me was that I got to drive around and listen to my favorite podcast, and I got to meet a cool new cop.
As a result of my holiday story, I got myself out of any trouble with the police officer and also made his, and my own day. What I want you to see is that the stories we tell ourself are so important. Being pulled over by the cops and wasting half a day could seem frustrating, but the story I told myself was one of meeting new people, relaxation, and a day of fun. Did I forget to mention it was pouring with rain the whole time!
Think carefully about the stories you are telling yourself and realise that you will become the lead character in your stories. Do you want to be the superhero or the deadbeat loser who is always upset and hates the world?
2. Stories form our view of the world
Right now there are wars, terrorist attacks, kidnapping and a range of other horrible events. There are also people achieving their sporting dream, winning in business, and watching their kids grow up to be leaders.
“The stories you tell yourself about your life, and what you focus on, forms your tailored view of the world” – Tim Denning
3. We decide which stories we believe – stories are a choice
No story that you hear is true or false. Every story matches the truth that you give it. This simple decision of whether you are going to make a story true of false is up to you. It could be seen as nothing more than a flip of a coin.
This 50/50 chance determines whether you win the lottery of life or end up broke and alone. Choose to put your energy and your trust behind the stories that lift you up and give you spine tingling moments.
Spend time with people that have stories which inspire you. Use stories as part of your education and seek out the high-achievers in each field to tell you their stories from their perspective. Mold the perspective of winners into your story.
Before you forget, though, use these stories and the new beliefs you have got from them to inspire others who haven’t discovered your wisdom yet. Don’t be selfish and share your stories.
“Stories are one of the best currencies you have”
4. Your limitations are connected to your stories
One of my perceived limitations currently is public speaking. This limitation comes from a broken belief that somehow I can speak fine in front of fifty people but put me in front of two hundred and I can’t. Why is that?
The only difference between the two numbers is a few extra people. How can a few more bodies in a room stop you from spreading your inspiring message? It can’t. After a lot of study, I now know that this dilemma is caused by a repetitive story in my head that says I am unable to do it.
Any skill can be acquired, and our brain is malleable no matter how old we are. The way to fix a limitation in your life is to change your story. Like the editor of a movie, you have to get into the heart of this BS story and edit out the disempowering parts. Then, replace these parts with stories that confirm that you can do the perceived limitation.
Now when I speak publicly I tell myself the following chapters of a new story:
– What I have to say is inspiring and valuable
– People think I am good at it when I practice
– The more I practice, the better I become
– I was made to do this
Through this simple flip in my story, I’m well on the way to overcoming this limitation. Your story about your limitations is tied to your goals. Unless you create new stories or rewrite the old one’s, you’ll be stuck with the results of the past.
“If you consistently whack yourself over the head with stories of times when you failed then your brain will default to its comfortable state of indecision and doing nothing”
It’s easy to do nothing, and it’s hard to grow as a person without any effort or energy.
For a period of twenty-four hours I want you to write down all the stories you tell yourself. At the end of the twenty-four hours have a look at them all and read them back to yourself. Ask yourself the question, are these stories moving me forward or holding me back. You’re already smart and more powerful than you think – trust me.