It’s your story, but should you stick to it?
You’ve probably heard the expression, “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
But when it comes to changing our life, we often can do better by changing the story that we tell ourselves about our life.
This doesn’t mean telling falsehoods, but it does mean making adjustments in how we tell the story of our life to ourselves and to our friends and associates.
Perhaps you dwell often on a horrible boss, bad relationships, time and money squandered, inadequacy you feel at work or unhappiness with your physical appearance.
You feel shaped by these forces and let them define you as less than what you want yourself to be.
You can change that by changing your “story.”
Use new messages
Give your brain the messages it needs to hear to make your life more productive, happier and healthier.
“The brain has no mind of its own. It cannot choose which instructions to obey and which to ignore,” writes Deepak Choprah. “You’re the one who possesses a mind, and you’re the author writing your story. This means that you have the most control. You can feed negative messages to your brain or positive messages – the choice is yours.”
Choprah, a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, urges us to take a more positive approach and discard old story lines that hold us back.
Some of us feel bad about our weight, for example, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe you quit trying to lose weight because other diets haven’t worked for you.
Change the story, Choprah says. “New Story: Today’s a new day. Whatever happened in the past doesn’t count. There’s always possibility and a solution in the present.”
Dealing with depression
Changing your story also can help you overcome depression, says Dr. Jane Rubin, a Berkeley psychotherapist. “Changing your story changes the possibilities that are open to you,” she writes
“For example, if you feel that you’re stuck in your job because you’re a loser, and that being a loser is just a fact about you, you won’t be able to think about getting a better job. You’ll just assume that, because you’re a loser, whatever job you get will be no better than the one you currently have.”
Ask yourself why you tell yourself this story. “Changing your story changes the possibilities that are open to you,” Rubin says.
Old, old stories
Remember that some stories you tell about yourself are old, outdated or inaccurate. Maybe you consider yourself a klutz because you were clumsy as a teenager. But now you’re a capable adult. Or you dwell on past financial mistakes when you should recognize the progress you’ve been making with your money and spending.
As Robert Taibbi, a licensed clinical social worker writes: “It's likely that your self-image is way out of date. It's like a suit or dress that you've long outgrown, a carry-over from when you were ten… But now you've got an adult brain, have learned bunches from experience, and have lots more ways of handling new situations. It's time for the self-image make-over.”
Who is writing your story?
You are. And you can change that story and change your life.
In Choprah’s words: “Whenever the familiar, negative themes run through your mind, stop and notice what you’re thinking. Then substitute a counter-thought, a positive message. In this way, you jump-start the process of rewriting your story…”