The Power Of the Story We Tell Ourselves
A friend shared a terrific quote about the story we tell ourselves, and it is certainly worth repeating.
“Be very careful of what you say to yourself, because you are always listening.”
A Google search attributed numerous variations of this quote to different people making it difficult to credit and acknowledge the original author, but the principle is absolutely correct.
I have spent much time reading and studying the results of studies that have examined the human capacity for change. If the research is correct, the results are extremely disheartening.
These studies show that fewer than 3% of people who lose 20 pounds or more will keep it off for five years and beyond. The same is true for those who commit to almost any other type of lifestyle change.
The data suggest that with most attempts at change there is an immediate positive result that inspires continuation but that the effort put forth to produce that result is not sustainable in the long term.
The reasons are many, but they invariably funnel down to one: the story we tell ourselves.
What this means is that our willingness to “stick with the program” is directly attributable to the quality of our thinking.
These ideas, thoughts and musings play a far greater role to determine our quality of life. In all likelihood so much more than any of us ever imagined or even dreamed possible.
If you don’t think you have a story, think again and consider this.
The Story We Tell Ourselves
The story begins each morning the instant we wake up and continues throughout the day until the moment we drift off to sleep.
Regardless of how we feel at any point in each day, we are always contributing to those feelings by validating their existence with our thoughts.
I am fascinated by both the degree to which we perpetuate those feelings that serve no purpose other than to negatively impact our day and by the ease with which we can instantly change our emotional state by simply changing our thoughts – our story.
It is ironic that, while we have all become master storytellers, for so many of us the stories we do tell ourselves are not ones that build us up, but rather our de facto story most of often nip away at our sense of self and frequently keep us from being at our best.
We are all the product of that story we repeatedly tell ourselves and, as with most great stories – much like a great fishing story – the story becomes richer, fuller and larger with each retelling.
Think of a time when you felt really tired, exhausted even, to the point that you could barely keep your eyes open and felt yourself fading in and out of consciousness.
And now remember how you were suddenly jerked awake into full alertness by something that required your immediate attention. And you were suddenly in full action, energy filled and focused on a crucial result.
As you recall this experience, you begin to realize how, by focusing on this new event that required your instant focus, your story immediately changed, the tiredness magically disappeared when you were suddenly transformed from exhaustion to being fully energized.
Something had to happen inside of you to create that energy. And that something began with the brand-new story you told yourself in that moment.
Recognizing the incredible power of the story we choose to tell ourselves may be the single most important differentiator between successful people and those who struggle.
As I have often said before, if you feel life is an insurmountable struggle, full of woes, challenges and lost opportunities, then that is what you will find.
However, if you are willing to change your perception of the insurmountable struggles to a temporary set-back, perhaps one that you knew was looming, but nonetheless chose to ignore, then you can also change the story and alter both the meaning and the ending.
Which story would get you out of bed the next morning?
Till we read again.