“We are the story we tell about ourselves.” I can’t exactly remember where I heard or read this phrase, but I have been thinking about it quite a bit over the last week. This one little phrase implies a lot! To me it connects various ideas about how our thinking and subjective reality are directly impacted by our language.
Think about it, if “we are the story we tell about ourselves.” Then it seems if we desire to change our reality, then we must first begin by changing the story we tell ourselves about ourselves.
If we tell our story from a negative perspective, e.g. My parents didn’t love me and no one wanted me around as a child and I am unlovable and will always be unlovable, then our reality—emotions, feelings, and moods will reflect that story. On the other hand, if we tell ourselves a more positive story about how we overcame obstacles, and adapted to change in our lives, and have the courage to continue doing so, then that becomes our story and in turn our new reality.
I think it useful in a conceptual way to re-author our life-story; casting ourselves as capable and solution-focused Lionhearts (in essence brave and courageous individuals), as opposed to problem-focused victims of circumstance who sees ourselves as individuals that have been harmed, injured or broken. In creating solutions, our imagination plays an important role in how we create a new story for ourselves. To create a new story for ourselves we must first have the ability to imagine one. Our wholehearted belief in our ability to adapt and overcome obstacles is central to our success. More importantly, a story in which we have overcome many obstacles and challenges as well as developed solutions, will be reflected in our day-to-day experience.
When writing a new story for ourselves it must begin with intention—a question involving hope and change: What is my hoped-for outcome: What do I want out of life and is what I want congruent with what I value most? This is not an easy question. It requires us to identify what we value most and to create a mental description or picture of what we want—that takes imagination. We must imagine living the life that we intend to live; a life we prefer, before we can hope to influence the direction of change.
This mental description or picture serves several very important purposes: It motivates us to change, it guides the choices we make, and it provides strength and motivation for us when we face difficulties. I know that this seems like a lot of hard work, and it is, but once developed, attending to this description or picture as well the instances in our lives where our imagined life already is occurring, will over time develop a different mood-state and provide continuing motivation for change.
So ask yourself: “Am I the Lionheart or Victim of my story?” If your response is “Victim”, now is as good a time as any to start writing yourself a new story. My question for you is, what do you want that to look like?