I used to tell myself I was busy. Always busy. Even “crazy busy”.
This was a fairly easy identify to assume with a growing business, large family (including four kids each with their own host of activities), and other assorted life commitments.
But I’ve decided to drop the busy story.
After all, between family, work, friends and self-care, I can’t think of anything I would drop.
Well, maybe I’d drop my taxes if I had a choice. But let’s not split hairs. In reality, I have a very full life. And I can change anything that isn’t exactly to my pleasing.
But there’s an even more compelling reason for me to drop my busy story. The stories we tell ourselves are powerful. They affect how we shape and perceive reality. Our thoughts form our feelings and our feelings transform into the words we choose. Our words influence our actions and the actions we take produce our results.
The stories we tell ourselves are the most important stories we will ever hear.
As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
We know our brains adapt to new circumstances on a daily basis. And Neuroplasticity research indicates we’re able to learn practically anything when we commit to sustained, deliberate practice. Keeping our thoughts positive only serves to streamline this process for our brains and helps us feel better about ourselves.
In her memoir Becoming, Michelle Obama recounts a story about her experience within the Chicago public school system and a remarkable principal, whom she says recognized, “Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated…by fear.”
It pains me to hear children (or adults for that matter) say they can’t do something. This is a self-fulfilling limitation. As Carol Dweck, best-selling author of Mindset advises, simply adding “yet” can change this sentence. “I can’t do this, yet” offers a much more optimistic approach.
What stories are you telling yourself? How can you re-frame these stories to create a more successful outcome?
Do you find yourself saying, “I’m nervous” before a big presentation? If so, try mimicking the mindset of professional athletes. High-performance athletes recognize the way our body feels when it is excited is the same feeling we have when we are nervous. Researchers have repeatedly found when experimental subjects are encouraged to reinterpret nervousness as excitement, they perform better. “I’m excited” sounds like a much more empowering story.
Do you find yourself saying, “I’m stressed” during crunch periods? If so, try focusing on how much you’re learning. “I’m grateful for this challenge” suddenly makes the situation feel more manageable and attainable; an opportunity to help you grow and master a new skill. This can make a big difference in our performance.
Do you find yourself saying “I’m tired”? If so, remind yourself of your deep energy reserves. Consider what would happen if you changed your story to, “I’m never tired”. My good friend, Marisa Murray, executive coach and Founding President of Leaderley, adopted this story several years ago and found that mind over matter has a profound impact on her energy levels.
The stories we tell ourselves have a profound impact on who we are. Consider the power of your thoughts and the words you use. If you’re not happy with the plot line, change your narrative. You have it in you to create your own happy ending.