What is your life exactly? At this very moment while you are reading this, your life is simply made up of facts and your thoughts about them. Think of the facts as the type of data you would enter on a registration form. Your age, marital status, place of employment, number of kids, income, etc. When we talk about our life, we put those facts into a story. When you do that, you are adding all your thoughts about your life. We don’t think of it that way, but it is true. The crazy thing is, we write our own story because all our thoughts are optional. You have a job. How you think and describe that job; great, terrible, constant drudgery… is your choice to think.
Changing our soundtrack
So many of us have such negative stories we tell about our selves and our lives. We’ve told them for so long, they become ingrained and weigh us down. It’s like a negative soundtrack constantly running in the background that makes us feel unhappy, stuck, worn out, frustrated. We can re-write our own soundtrack.
What is the story you’ve been telling yourself?
Pick one area of your life where you are dissatisfied. Is it your work, weight, marriage, parenting skills, relationship with a family member? Take one minute and write 1-3 sentences describing that area on paper or dictate it into your phone. Here is an example:
Work: My work is drudgery. We are always putting out fires and I’m exhausted by the end of the day. I don’t know if I even accomplish anything!
Self: I can’t seem to loose weight no matter what I do. The older I get, the harder it is. I’m very busy and just have too much going on. I never have any me time.
Now, look at what you wrote and ask yourself how you feel? Inspired and excited? Probably not if your story is full of what is wrong, bad, or hard in your life. Do you really want that story?
Just the facts
Now, pull out only the facts from your story. The facts must be things that are indisputable. They must not contain any descriptive words. Some examples: I have a job, I’m married, I am a parent… List the facts you pulled from your story on paper. In all likelihood, there will be only one or two things. Now, sit for a minute and recognize that EVERYTHING else in your story is a thought! Guess what – you don’t have to think any of those negative thoughts! They are completely optional! You may want to argue with me that that your thoughts are optional, but they are. In all likelihood, you chose them subconsciously and have been thinking them ever since with out even realizing it.
Re-write your story
Here is the fun part. Re-write your story. Don’t change any of the facts, just the words in between. Choose to write a story you WANT to tell yourself. One that makes you feel good. If you are thinking right now that you don’t just want to make something up about your life that isn’t true, I will tell you that you are already doing that with our old story. Why not choose to think something positive about your life instead? I’m not saying to write a fantasy where everything becomes wonderful. Just simply a better story – one that will serve you to think. One that will make you smile or inspire you.
Work: I have a job that provides challenges each day. I’m constantly learning and never board. I’m great at my job!
Self: I’m exactly the weight I’m supposed to be right now. How I know is because that is what I weigh. I have the time I need to get the most important things done. I honor my body and my self.
Wouldn’t your rather believe these stories? They are such better sounding stories than the negative ones, and equally true and believable.
I recently did this exercise and it was incredibly powerful. First, I was amazed at my own negative story I’d been telling myself about my job, my parenting skills, my energy levels. I’d honestly had this story for years playing on repeat in the back of my mind. It was exhausting! Until I decided to change my story.
What we focus on is what we will see in the world
You know how when you are thinking about buying a new car, you start noticing that type of car everywhere you look? That is how our mind works. What we focus on is what we will find evidence for. So if we are focused on our negative story, we will continue to find evidence for and reinforce that story in our lives. The opposite is true as well. When you change your story, you will change your experience of the world. Your brain will focus on the positive thoughts and find ways to prove you right. Try it! Re-write your narrative and change how you see your life. You’ll be surprised.