Courageous Stories

By, Joseph Clementi

Ever have a moment where the very story you’re telling yourself did not end up serving you? Perhaps, in a moment of reflection, you realized you weren’t supporting you!

Bad hair day? An unsupportive narrative tells you, “it’s gonna be a bad day”. Maybe you received bad news? The subconscious narrative says “I should have expected that”.

What’s the story you keep telling yourself? All of us walk around with stories about ourselves. Stories are the way we make sense of our lives. But what happens when the stories we tell our selves are misleading, incomplete, or just wrong?

A false narrative filled with messages cleverly disguised as insecurity, anxiety, and ill-conceived perceptions. Like many things addictive and pernicious, inner dialogue feels safe at first, but ultimately and insidiously become shackles.

“Instead of providing clarity, these stories keep us stuck.  We assume our circumstances shape our realities.  The way we narrate our lives shapes what they become.  That’s the danger of our stories, but our superpowers as well. If we can change our stories, then we can change our lives”

Lori Gottlieb

It is strange just how complex and powerful the wrong narrative can be. Scientifically, the answers are relatively straightforward and less contentious. Physiologically, we are creating our reality by the words we use, the way we think, and behave.

Our actions are manifested by our behaviors whether consciously or subconsciously. Thus, the more particular thought or belief is activated and reinforced, the stronger these neural pathways become. Those neuro pathways become our “go to” pattern of perceiving.

Ironically, the non-supportive behaviors are being reinforced by predictable patterns of beliefs. Instead of providing clarity these narratives are often recirculating as fact-based events based off unsubstantiated historical events. What if, the narrative could be reformed in a more existential manner?

Here’s 5 practical tips to balance the narrative:

  1. Give your brain a neutral space it needs to provide creative solutions to the perceived challenge. At the most fundamental levels, our brains have this miraculous ability to find solutions.
  2. Develop the skills to interrupt and change your inner dialogue. Verbally interrupting these conversations with positive affirmations serves as a great substitute.
  3. Avoid catastrophizing. Negative narratives are the finger paintings of emotions, they never tell the entire story, and our interpretations are abstract.
  4. Ask more effective questions. Instead of stopping or inaction, simply ask more effective questions. Do not talk yourself out of the idea before you’ve been able to take a single action.
    1. What is going on right now in life that has my attention?
    1. What would be most helpful to focus my attention on right now?
    1. If there was 1 burden that could be removed from this situation, what would it be?
  5. Schedule momentum. Do the 1 thing that you have been avoiding. Progress is not about the “how” right now, it is about forward movement. Inaction creates doubt, insecurity, and negative cyclical motion (NCM).

“Our internal narratives narrow our perspectives. And distorts our stories delivered through a very narrow lens that we don’t even know we’re looking through. “

Lori Gottlieb

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