What story are you telling yourself?
Psychologists say that you have approximately 50,000 thoughts every day, and most of those thoughts are the same ones you had yesterday.
The question then is: Are those thoughts helpful or detrimental to one’s movement, success, and joy in life?
Many of the thoughts you think are actually stories you tell yourself. They could go like this: “I am so lucky. Great things happen to me all the time!”
Or, they could sound like this: “I must have a dark cloud over my head because nothing good happens to me.”
Of course, there are many variations between these two dialogues. Bottom line, the stories you tell yourself set up the conditions of your life.
You know how it works, you meet someone and within minutes they’ve told you a “poor me” story and the energy in the room just crashes. While in the other corner of the room, a group is gathered around someone who just described his first hole-in-one on the golf course and everyone is smiling…and there’s upbeat energy.
Stories can add stress, bring hope, entertain, or inspire. And they always impact the person who identifies with the story.
I knew a woman in her 70s who loved to tell the story that her mother died when she was ten years old. Within an hour of meeting someone, she informed them of her tragedy.
Now it was true that her mother did die when she was young, but what purpose does it serve to educate random people as to that fact? What need is she fulfilling?
Marilyn used this story to rationalize various developmental issues she had not dealt with. She didn’t feel she had a role model for femininity. She believed she didn’t know how to be in an intimate relationship.
She felt awkward about relationships in general. Thus the story, “Why am I not in a relationship? My mother died when I was ten. Why have I done this or not done that? My mother died when I was ten.” And so it goes.
Most people have stories they tell themselves.
I need to keep the job I hate because I can’t make this much money anywhere else. Result: Misery and stress.
My parents taught me to be humble, never toot my own horn or say what I can bring to the table. Hence, no career advancement.
I must stay in this abusive relationship because who else would want me. Result: Low self-esteem and misery.
Your story expands or depletes your self-opinion and confidence. They can keep you hooked into negative situations.
Example: I always get nervous around people; I am awkward, shy, introverted, backward, not good enough, not that smart, etc. Or, brilliant, talented, resilient, resourceful — you name it.
People use labels to identify themselves and the labels conversely expand or limit them.
Each label carries a meaning. You provide the story to define who you are and you’re easily trapped by it.
When the woman who lost her mother at ten tells her story, she is explaining why she hasn’t grown beyond the challenges of her early life. She has convinced herself she cannot move beyond the stilted image she created of herself.
And yet, in her life, she grew strong as she learned to navigate without the nurturing influence of a mother. She really doesn’t need to keep telling the story.
Consider the stories of your life. How do you feel about them? Do they serve you? Is it time to let go or look at them from another point of view? Possibly resolve them — rewrite a story or create a new one.
Observe your stories. Ask yourself if this story you’ve been telling yourself is making your life better or worse? Is it increasing or diminishing your happiness? Is it blaming someone else for your circumstances? If the answer is yes, it may be time to let it go. You are the one that can change it, revise it, eliminate it, and move on.
This guest article was originally published on YourTango.com: This Is The Real Reason You Feel Stuck In Life.