What we tell ourselves matters

Greatness within you

Day 30

30th January 2014

You are worthy of love, no matter how imperfect you are. Just because you make mistakes, or don’t get it right, it doesn’t make you wrong, or unworthy of love – we are still loveable. We are messy, crazy, broken human beings – but we are still worthy of love and life.

But what do you do when you have been telling yourself that you don’t deserve anything better? That you are not good enough? And you have been telling yourself this insane story for most of your life? Then it’s time to tell yourself a different story and allow yourself to live a different life.

Most of us tell ourself stories that we live by. Sometimes they’re positive and help us to thrive, (“I’m at my best when my back is up against the wall.”) but most of the time they are negative and stop us from developing or becoming who we are really meant to be. We have running commentaries in our head throughout most of our waking hours.  “I’m not good at technical stuff.” “I’m not a great reader.” “Classrooms and I never mix well.” ” I’m a shocking public speaker.” “I’m not pretty/good/smart/talented enough.” Sound familiar? Perhaps you have a few of your own?

I had a friend who used to tell me all the time that she was as dumb as bat sh*t! This woman was one of the smartest women I know. In many ways she was a professional mentor to me and I respected her knowledge and skill set immensely.

She worked in policy, had completed numerous degrees, including a Masters, and was highly regarded by the majority of the sector that she worked in. In fact, whenever there is a major state wide project being developed you will still usually find this amazing red head invited along as a critical “friend”.  But she didn’t see it. Mainly because she had been told she was dumb as bat sh*t for the first 5 years of her life, and that story had become an unchangeable fact for her. In many ways the story in her head hadn’t stopped her from doing some of the things she strived for, but in lots of ways it did. It became a brick fortress that prevented her from achieving some of her most precious dreams.

Many of us are the same. What we tell ourselves matters. What we tell ourselves changes the world we see around us. It changes our experience. If I think I am from a family that only ever has bad luck, then all I will see is the bad luck around me. And rather than thinking something along the lines of – well yeah, sometimes in life bad things happen – I will be convinced that as a member of this family all I should ever expect is bad luck.”

The weird thing is that the story that we tell ourselves, that we have convinced ourselves is an irrefutable fact, is a story that we were told when we were very young or one that we made up to make sense of the world around us; again when we were most likely as young as five years old.

When I was a little girl my mother heard me singing in the bedroom. She told me I was tone deaf and couldn’t sing a note in tune. Now perhaps my mother was tired that day, or she had a headache and just needed some peace and quiet. Perhaps she really did think I couldn’t sing and was trying to protect me from embarrassing myself. The truth is I actually can sing. I sing very well. However I have rarely sung in front of an audience, because the story in my head is that I am tone deaf. I have lived my life until now, not experiencing something that I actually love doing, because of a story that started in my head when I was six years old.

Think about it.

As an adult, how many behaviours do you still do in exactly the same way as you did when you were very young? Not many, right? Not because the things you did when you were little were necessarily bad. They just suited your age. You played very differently as a five year old, than you would today. You danced differently. You ate differently. You learnt in a different way. You had very different relationships. You probably even walked differently. And so we should! But now we are adults. We have grown up. We have learnt an enormous amount about living, loving, playing, growing, surviving and thriving!

So why are many of us living our lives to the tune of a story that we concocted when we were five years old?

Perhaps today is the day to challenge that story. Is it true? Do they hand out Master degrees to people who are dumb as bat sh*t? Hmmm, probably not. Was my mother a qualified singing teacher, or an ear doctor, that would know without a doubt that I was tone deaf? No, actually she wasn’t. And does bad luck happen to everyone at some stage in their life, or just my family? Hmmm…

Here’s the thing: That story is not a fact. It’s not true. It’s not even close. It just seems that way because you believe that it is true. But you can change what you believe, and you can change the story you tell yourself. You can replace your tired little story with something positive.

A long time ago I was told that I was stubborn. A stubborn little shit. Now I could have made a number of stories in my head about this one, but I really liked it. So the story I told myself was a positive one. I refuse to give up. It’s one of my best traits. I don’t give up on myself and I don’y give up on the people I love. Yes. I am a stubborn little shit and I do what it takes to get where I want to be. Yep, I am stubborn…and it’s fantastic!

So challenge your stories! Put that story under a spot light and work out if it’s really true! I’m not challenging the event that led up to the development of the story in your head. That’s different. The incident happened. It may have been good or bad. But it’s the story you told yourself from then on that has had the impact on your life. And the most amazing thing is that you can change that impact right now.

Write down the stories now – and challenge their integrity. When you uncover a fraud, then re-write the story that you are going to start telling yourself. “I am a smart, intelligent, wise woman with a wealth of knowledge to offer.” “I take my time learning new technical information, it may take me a bit longer, but I always work it out.”

Once your story changes into one that works for you positively, you will start to see a very different world around you. Because what you tell yourself changes what you see, which in turn changes your experience and the life you live.

Perhaps tonight you can read yourself a better bedtime story!

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