Change Your Story, Change Your Life: 3 Keys To ChangeAdeshola Ezeokoli
Before I go further, I do not claim to have this down pat. Micheal Hyatt did an excellent job of talking about this on his blog, Intentional Leadership .
I have come to realize, that the stories we tell ourselves have the power to make or break us. Our self talk is what we believe the most. All of us have a narrative that plays over and over in our heads. Now our narrative is either mostly positive or mostly negative. It colors our view of situations, people and things. It can change from positive to negative and vice versa. Our narrative is in the form of our predominant thoughts. It is usually as a result of our experiences, which give rise to beliefs and judgements, which give rise to more similar experiences. These narratives start as a seed of a thought and take on a life of their own. They can come up at any time.
Let me give an example.
For about four years of my life, I too was a victim of the wrong narrative. Somewhere along the line, I was convinced that no one liked me. I did not like myself, and with a heavy dose of low self eestem, the narrative went something like this: “No one likes me. There is nothing good about me. All my friends are more fun, more poised, more likeable, prettier, more articulate. I’m sure that they just put up with me.” On and on it went.
What is your narrative that you need to change? Maybe you think that you are unloveable. Maybe you think, I always have bad luck; no one will date me because I am a single mother; I can never catch a break; I’m ugly; I’m so stupid, I can never do anything right.
Think about what you are thinking about. Is it true? It may not be true and you may just be a victim of your own confirmation bias. A confirmation bias, simply put, is when you believe anything that supports a previously held position; and disbelieve everything that goes against it. For example, I used to think that I was unattractive. If I was chatted up by a guy, it did not register that at least I was attractive to one person. If my friend was chatted up, instead of me, out trotted the narrative again. You will have to learn, to be a conscious thinker, as I did. If anything is to change, you have to develop a consciousness of what your narrative is.
2. Focus :
What you focus on becomes bigger. If you think that no one likes you, you will unconsciously seek out evidence to support your position. Change your focus to the opposite of what you want. A few years into our marriage, I developed another narrative. “My husband does not love me as much as he did when we were dating”. So, we went through a rough patch at some point, but his love for me has never, ever wavered. Still, this narrative played on as I magnified his mistakes (no one is perfect) until I could not see all the wonderful things he was doing. His generosity, patience, empathy, and support were eclipsed by my wrong thinking! I knew that if our marriage was to survive I had to focus on the good, until it literally drove out the “bad”. So I did. “I am not attractive”- but a guy in a van just wolf whistled at you. “I never have any good luck”- but you just landed a good job. “My boss hates me”- but yesterday he called you his most reliable employee. “I’m too young and inexperienced for this role”- but you have fresh ideas. For me it was, “my husband stopped loving me”- but the guy gave me whatever I wanted, even going to great lengths when it was inconvenient for him!
Change your focus, change your story.
After you have chosen to refocus, you have to tell yourself a new narrative. For example, on my job I have had the opportunity to develop the “young and inexperienced” narrative so many times. Most people who meet me tell me that I look too young to be a doctor. I have met with open skepticism as sometimes people question my ability to diagnose and treat them. Instead of letting these comments become seeds of dis-empowering thoughts, I jumped in ahead wrote my own narrative. I could be thinking “I am young, I do not know as much as the other doctors who have been here for decades”. Instead my own narrative is thus: “I am a doctor. I look young, but I am older than I look. I am only four years post residency, but I have worked on two other continents. I have been a doctor for thirteen years. I went one of the best medical schools in Nigeria. I know my stuff”.
It is hard, but you have to change every single dis-empowering narrative in your head. Open the Bible. Find passages that talk about God’s love for you; about how you are fearfully and wonderfully made; about how He will help you; about how He will never leave you nor forsake you. If you need to write down what you want your narrative to be, do it. Read it to yourself. Recite it. Own it.
The power to change your story is in your hands. Change your story, change your life.
“This, with God’s help, I have done”– Dean Alfange
In what ways have you learned to change wrong narratives? I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below, and subscribe for free weekly updates delivered to your inbox.