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Your life matches your story

podcast Feb 09, 2021

 

 Can't listen? Here's the transcript: 

So sometimes how I pick the topic of my podcast is that I will be working with a client, and I will say something, and the client will say “omg I have to write that down.” and then I say, “oh yeah!  I have to write that down too!”  

Remember, I am my own student of Dethroning Your Inner Critic.  So sometimes the things that I say are the things that I most need to learn.  And that is what happened yesterday, so this is what I am talking about today-- how the story you tell about yourself affects your life.  

Your life story is not a biography of the facts and events of your life. It's actually the way you have interpreted those facts inside your own head and tried to make sense out of them.  Most people don’t know that the story of their life isn’t based on facts.  Most people believe that their thoughts are facts.  And when you believe that your thoughts are facts, it is very easy for complete delusions and lies that you have been telling yourself for much of your life, to actually impact your expectations of yourself, your interactions with the world around you, and ultimately how successful your life is.  

So how are YOU telling your own story to yourself?  How do you define yourself and your life?  When you look at your past, can you consider that your past has actually been reconstructed by your Inner Critic mind?  I was just speaking to a client last night who was talking about feeling like a loser for his whole life.  And this is a man who has a successful career as a business owner, has deep connections with his family and friends.  But because he has not yet had a successful relationship at 36 years old, he defines himself as a loser and “just not good enough”.  Now, when we looked more closely at this narrative, he was able to see that he has been feeling this way since the age of five because of some learning difficulties as well as being the oldest of 4 siblings having some unrealistic expectations placed on him by his very loving mom who was just overwhelmed as a young mother.  

So since early childhood, this is how he defined himself.  When interacting with peers and teachers growing up, when trying to date in his late teens and early twenties, the story that he told himself year after year, was that he is not good enough.  And therefore, he kept himself under the radar.  Because of his automatic story, he viewed the world as unsafe.  The only people that have ever had a chance to really get connected to him is his family and a few close friends.  

As human beings, we are natural storytellers.  It’s in our DNA to find meaning in our world.  So why is it that we are not taught what I consider to be the most important education that there is, and that is that your thoughts are not facts.  They are a story you tell yourself and you have the power to change your story.  And when you know how to change your story, you have the power to change your entire life.  

When you consider the story of YOUR life, have you ever considered how many years ago you first decided who you are and what you can and can’t do in your life?  Your story not only defines how you see events from your past, it also determines how you imagine your future.  We have ALL suffered pain and adversity.  That is part of the human experience.   We have all had bad things happen.  We have all been rejected.  We have all had times where we have felt that in some way we are not good enough.  So it is not our circumstances that define how our life goes.  We all know people who have had the most horrific experiences in the past and found meaning and purpose in their lives as a result.  I interviewed a woman on my podcast a couple of months ago named Nadia Ahrens, who lost her son at 8 years old in a tragic accident, and now helps people who have suffered tremendous loss transform their lives.  

See, we humans are all meaning making machines.  We assign meaning to everything.  And your ability to enjoy your life, to like who you are, to believe that you deserve to feel good and love yourself and be loved by others, only has to do with the story you tell yourself.   

Think about the story you tell yourself about who you are now, how you came to be you, and where your life is going moving forward.  What are the goals you envision for your life?  Are they currently defined by a really old story you have been dragging around with you for a really long time?  

What is the central theme of your story?  In my MIND method, the N step stands for neutralize the never ending message.  The never ending message is actually the story you have been telling yourself over and over about who you are.  My never ending story is “I am not good enough.”  It is my Inner Critic’s first go to for everything.  It always has been and always will be.  In fact, I am working on a lot of really big projects for 2021, some amazing online programs and a powerful Youtube channel.  And my Inner Critic loves to tell her story over and over again “you don’t know how to do this.  How are you going to make all this happen?”  In other words, she loves to convince me that I don’t have what it takes. Which thank goodness, from my Dethroning Your Inner Critic work I have been doing for the last 20 years, I know is complete and utter BS.  I have done hard things before, I will continue to do hard things and I will never stop reaching for my dreams.  But I am one of the ones who has extensively learned and practiced how to manage my own mind.  I have been at this for a really long time, which is why I support people all over the world in how to do this.  It breaks my heart to know that there are so many people who are suffering so greatly, that are so unhappy, because they think their own made up story is a fact.  It is never our circumstances, it is only our own thoughts about our circumstances that defines not only how we grow and evolve throughout our lives, but that actually creates our experience of happiness, joy and a life well lived.  It is truly tragic that so many people continue to chase fulfillment, joy and happiness by trying to get those feelings from the outside world.  If you are looking to feel good enough, loved, and valued by trying to get someone else to give you that feeling, or something else like a degree, a job, a great body, to give you that experience, consider that this is part of your story you have been telling yourself.  Your belief, that you have been thinking is a fact, is that once you find a relationship, once you get into shape, once you get your career where you want it, that will be the thing that will change your story.  And this is the exact opposite!!  Your story you tell yourself is what will change the way you design your life moving forward.  That is the D step of my mind method- design your life.  The actions you take all begin with a thought.  For my client, he has been telling himself the same story.  And his story has robbed him of truly seeing who he really is.  Changing his story is really about reinterpreting, and therefore rewriting his story from his past so he can see that he is in control of how he shows up in the world-- either he will continue to show up guarding himself against the possibility of rejection because he believes he isn’t good enough, or he will learn to let his Authentic Self come through and keep his heart open and connected even if he is terrified to do so.  Either way, he will be uncomfortable.  Either he will stay small and protected and never have what he really wants, or he will have to feel the discomfort of keeping his heart open and connecting with people and risking the possibility of rejection.  And when he does face rejection, because let’s face it, in the dating world you will always face rejection, he is in control of the story he will tell himself.  He can either believe the never ending story that he isn’t good enough or he can love and value himself for who he is, and remember that he can be the juiciest peach on the peach tree, but not everyone likes peaches. See, when you tell a story that has you loving you, then you can handle rejection.  You can handle failure.  You can take actions that will create your dreams, instead of waiting until there is no risk.  Because one thing I know for sure, is that if you are going for your dreams, you are not comfortable.  No one who has created their dreams will tell you it was easy and effortless.  And if they do, they are lying!  Anyone who has truly created their dreams will describe a journey that was riddled with failure and disappointment.  Ask Michael Jordan how he became Michael Jordan-- did you know he did not make his high school’s varsity basketball team?  He worked his ass off for years to get better and better-- and the story he told himself was, “I don’t do things half-heartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect half-hearted results.”  That was his story that had him keep pushing and pushing himself to get better and better.    

So here are some things for you to consider:

Who is telling your story?  Is it your Authentic Self or is it your Inner Critic? How you know the difference is if you have felt this same way for your whole life, you are buying into your Inner Critic’s story.  If you see life more as a struggle than an adventure, you are buying into your Inner Critic's story.  If you expect the worst in life instead of believing that good things are meant for you, your Inner Critic is running your life.  If the world occurs as something you have to protect yourself from, and you don’t trust other people to treat you with love and respect, you are seeing the world through the lens of your Inner Critic.  If your fear and anxiety is keeping you stuck, your Inner Critic’s story is all about protecting you from the “what if’s” .  If you define your happiness and success by what other people think of you, your Inner Critic is governing your relationship with yourself and the people in your life.   

So the most important question you can ask yourself is, do you want to keep your story or do you want to change it?  

Rewriting your story is not about trying to make bad things good or being in denial about pain.  As I have said many times, pain is an inevitable part of life.  But the suffering is optional.  You have the power to assign meaning to all of your life circumstances that either empowers or disempowers you.  You can see all of your mistakes, failures, shortcomings and blind spots, as opportunities for personal growth and self awareness.  All of these experiences have taught you-- they have made you who you are.  Your failed relationships, whether romantic or any other relationships,  helped you see what is really important in your relationships with others.  Your failures have helped you see what worked and what didn’t.  Your story is the lens through which you see all of it.  You can’t control the circumstances of life-- half of the time it goes the way we want and half of the time it doesn’t-- we are not in control of that.  But what is 100% within our control is the story that we choose to tell.  

So here is how to rewrite your story.  

  1. First-- find a quiet and cozy place to sit. Close your eyes.  Think back to your childhood and let your memories flow.  Think back to as early as you can remember.  Try to remember as many details as possible, but don’t fixate on a single memory-- just let your memories flow. 
  2. Next, write down the story of your life-- just let it flow out of you onto the paper.  Don’t try to script it or edit it-- just write and write until there is nothing left to write.  Don’t get lost in this.  Set a timer for 20 minutes and try to write your life’s story within that time frame-- this will show you the M step of the mind method-- meet your Inner Critic.  This is your Inner Critic's story

Now go back and read your story several times.  Take 2 highlighters-- one for facts and one for the story.  Go through the story and highlight only the facts.  Remember a fact is something that a fly on the wall can see.  I fly can’t see-- my mother made me feel like I was worthless.  A fly on the wall can see my mom yelled at me for spilling the milk.  Separating the facts from the story will highlight further your Inner Critic’s story

  1. Take a moment and notice when you are reading this story, what are your feelings?  What are your body sensations?  What do you typically do when you are experiencing these emotions?  Do you get sad?  Do you get angry?  Do you get critical of yourself or other people?  Do you engage in unhealthy behaviors?  These are your indication signs that your Inner Critic’s story has taken over.  This is the I step of the Mind method.
  2. Ask yourself, what is the theme of this story that keeps showing up over and over?  Circle the most powerful emotions.  Can you see a repetitive, never ending message that is emerging from the story? That’s the N step

Ask yourself, what is the title of this old story?  My title for my old story is “worrying wilhelmenia’s adventures in never enoughness’.  MY Inner Critic’s name is worrying wilhelmenia and nothing is ever good enough and she is always focused on what’s next instead of enjoying the present moment.  I work on a daily basis to disconnect from her “what if” rants and her attempts to have me focused on the imagined future instead of being present to the joy and blessings that are right in front of me.  

  1. Ask yourself, what is the new theme of my new story I will use to design my life?  What is a theme that feels inspiring and powerful? Now go back and Rewrite your story from the perspective of the new theme.  Try to see the circumstances from your past through the perspective of this new theme.  For example, if your new perspective would be “life is an exciting adventure”, keep on asking yourself “if life is an exciting adventure, what did this event mean in my life?”  Keep reading the new story.  Print it out.  Read it every day.  Keep adjusting the new story in ways that make you get in touch with who you already are when you aren’t fused with your Inner Critic’s story.  This is a process. It’s not a one and done.  This is the D step of the mind method, where you continue to choose a story moving forward in which you can identify what you want to be different, but you give your power and energy to solutions and actions that are in alignment with the new story and the new life you are creating.   

Owning our story and creating it into a story that is meaningful, empowering yet authentic for us is probably the most powerful thing that one can do for own happiness, life satisfaction, but also a sense of meaning and positive relationship with self. 

A hard life doesn’t prevent you from success unless you tell yourself it will. There are plenty of examples of people who overcame overwhelming circumstances to achieve greatness, and just as many examples of those born with everything and are miserable.  Some of you have been so identified with your Inner Critic’s story, that it is actually your Inner Critic that has designed your life so far. If this is you, This is not an opportunity to beat yourself up. Rather, it’s a chance to take inventory and understand that you cannot continue to design your life through your Inner Critic’s demand that you stay in your comfort zone. You need to take risks until you get comfortable with those risks – then take more. The more you push yourself, the easier it will become to rewrite your story and transform your life.

Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it’s who you are becoming along the way, taking the actions and overcoming the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfillment.  That is what it means to be the designer of your life.  And that is what I wish for everyone-- to know how to manage your mind and design the life you really want. 

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