Who cares what others say. It’s our narrative that’s important. What we say to ourselves, about ourselves, needs to receive our attention.
Our narrative is formed from the self-talk we have, from the values we hold, from our internal conversations, and from the stories we tell ourselves. That narrative is us, who we are, what we identify with, and how we craft ourselves. It’s like some form of presentation.
If our narrative was a PowerPoint, it’d be made up of around six slides. Each slide would feature a key point of our persona, and we’d rabbit on about the part this key point plays, in forming a piece of our whole. We are human, and so it is we shall justify.
That presentation defines us. And for the most part, we allow it to. Quite often our narrative is compelling, and we have empirical evidence to back it up. Because we believe it, and it fits us so well, we accept it as our normal. And then we speak this normal, taking our internal narrative and turning it into an external version. We give our presentation in the form of personal descriptors, such as;
- I’m the sort of person who….
- It’s because of this that I….
- Whenever I’m in X I do Y.
- I’m passionate about this.
- I’m not willing to do that.
- I’m afraid that people will ….
- I can never bring myself to ….
- Something happened a long time ago and so I….
This is our normal. This is who we are, and this is what we say we do. Normal is the defined set of barriers we use to hold ourselves back. Why? Because we accept that it’s our narrative, and rarely challenge it once it is formed. That is of course until we become self-aware of just how much that narrative is holding us back, and we decide it’s high time we re-wrote our own story.
Like I wrote last week, if you say you can’t, you won’t. But if you say you’ll try, who knows what you’re capable of?
Tricky business though, challenging ourselves when we know we need to. Not easy fighting with the voices inside your head, especially when they’re your own. Allow me to offer up one way of getting started. Start by saying something different about yourself. Change a slide, change the accompanying verbal descriptors, change what you say about yourself. Be open, be honest, and say it aloud.
I’ll go first.
I don’t like the constant negative stories my narrative repeats to me, based upon judgemental episodes of my past. Too often I cling to these, and then use them as a marker of how good I am. This leads me to seek approval from others, placing what matters into the hands of others. But it also leads me to seek approval from myself. And I am my harshest critic. Rarely do I allow myself to congratulate me on the efforts I have made. Ergo, I believe I must perform herculean efforts to feel good about anything I do. And if I don’t feel good, I wasn’t good enough. That’s just part of who I am, and what I do.
What a load of old cobblers.
That’s not me, that’s my narrative at work. A negative thought process, a dour story. Past events seeping into my present, and my future. How? Because I’m allowing them too. But remember I mentioned that self-aware part before? That is my narrative game changer. That is my “hang on a minute, I detect large amounts of BS” tool of choice. And I call that tool, the truth.
The truth is far from what my narrative insists I believe. And that’s how I challenge such parts of my story telling, and change them. The truth will set you free? Maybe. The truth can do a lot of things, except for one. It can never stop being the truth.
I say, in order to stop believing in the parts of our story we’re tired of, we need to question why we allow such parts to exist. Are they real? Or are they fake news we conned ourselves into accepting? If you don’t like one of the slides in your narrative presentation, then focus on the pursuit of your truth.
Of all the things we can say about ourselves, what are the ones we don’t feel comfortable saying? That’s your starting point right there. Right after you say “blah” and then inside yourself you feel that little pang of discomfort. Work on ditching that slide from your narrative presentation
Our narrative is made up of the conversations we have with ourselves inside our head. And if you speak it, you can make it real. Better we talk ourselves up and focus on our positives eh?