Can I Tell You a Story? [Mindset Makeover Week Three]
"If you find yourself in the wrong story, leave." -Mo Willems
Whoo! You made it to week three of our Mindset Makeover!
In Week One, we got clear on how our mindset affects our happiness and success.
Week two was all about getting clear on our identity. Having an identity that doesn’t serve us can keep us stuck on the merry-go-round of life, reliving the same patterns.
This week, I want to dive into the stories we tell ourselves and how they affect our mindset.
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What do stories have to do with our mindset?
Most of us can be pretty creative storytellers when we allow our mindset to run on autopilot.
Who hasn’t let a thought or belief get spun into a fantastical tale?
What starts as a limiting thought like, “I’m not experienced enough” suddenly gets turned into an alternate reality complete with evil, sneering bad guys that even J.K. Rowling would marvel at.
When left unchecked, our mind can tell some pretty tall tales.
Our stories can sound like…
Once upon a time there lived a sad, poor sack who wasn’t good (brave) enough to ever be able to do her dream job. Poor Sad Sack just knew if she ever tried, she’d fail miserably and be the laughing stock of the entire kingdom. "Look at Sad Sack," everyone would whisper as she walked by with her head hung low. “Why did she think she could ever do that?” They’d snicker and point fingers. Then, Sad Sack lost all her friends, became homeless, and could never find love or do anything worthwhile ever again…
Ok, so this is the most ridiculous and poorly written children’s story in the history of children’s stories...yet, many of us are walking around telling ourselves similarly awful stories.
We have to be careful with what we tell ourselves because these stories get turned into the beliefs we have. Beliefs with enough certainty become true for us and become a part of our identity. Yikers.
I know from experience how much we can believe the stories we tell ourselves.
Once they’re a part of our identity, we’ll do whatever we can to save face and stay true to ourselves. Meaning, we’ll act in a way that matches the identity we’ve created for ourselves through our stories. (Check last week’s blog here if you missed the identity talk)
These limiting stories we tell ourselves are holding us back and keeping us stuck.
Remember in Week One when we talked about the cycle of mindset? Our mindset affects our beliefs and thoughts, which affect the actions we do or don’t take, which affect the results we do or don’t get, which go right back and reinforce our mindset and beliefs.
Imagine what happens to your mindset when you feed it a diet of scary or sad, limiting stories. How do you think that mindset affects the actions you take? And the results you get?
Womp, womp. Sad Sack Story.
Mindset Makeover Week Three's Action Step is to clean up your story!
When we change the story, we can change our mindset. And when we change our mindset, we can change our actions and results…and ultimately our life. Pretty cool, huh?
We're going to use a tool I like to call Fact Checking.
Any good storyteller does research and has to check their facts before they publish. We’re going to do the same thing with the stories we’re telling ourselves.
1. Start with a limiting thought or mindset block you uncovered in Week One and write out (or share out loud) the internal story you’ve created to support it.
Go crazy and get all the details. After all, good storytelling is in the details.
2. Now, we’re going to make a chart. On the left side, we’ll have the label “story” and we'll label the right side "facts".
3. Go back through your story and break it up into events or beats.
4. It’s time to fact check!
Go through each event or beat and ask yourself, “Is this a fact or is this a story I’m telling myself?” Be ruthless here. We love to lie to ourselves and believe our own stories. Put each section into its appropriate column.
Note: It only goes into the fact column if it is an actual fact or is something that has happened already. Thinking it could happen makes it a story, and it goes into the story column. Thinking it could be true? Story column, again.
If we take a look at my Sad Sack story, the chart might look like this:
I’m a Sad Sack. My name is Kim.
I'm not good enough. Implied: I have a dream job I want to do.
If I fail, I’ll be the laughing stock.
Everyone will whisper about me.
They’ll laugh and point fingers.
I’ll lose my friends.
I’ll become homeless.
I’ll never find love.
Now when we look at the same story stripped of my stellar creative writing ability, we’re left with the facts: My name is Kim, and there’s something new I want to try.
Much less dramatic and limiting, no?
You know that mnemonic that’s floating around social media? FEAR = F-alse, E-vidence, A-pperaing, R-eal?
Well, that comes into play when we’re fact checking.
The stories we tell ourselves are really just big old fears hanging out without supervision in our minds.
The thing with fears is we’re wired to have them. We all have them. Blame it on our hunter-gather days, we’ve evolved to have fears so we can look out for potential threats.
As irrational as our fears might seem to others, the fears we have are self-serving and we create them to protect ourselves.
But our fears are rarely right. They mean well. They really and truly do. They sincerely just want to keep us out of harm's way. But, they’re big old scardey cats and look for anything that could be a threat. They make up convincing stories to save face and legitimize their existence.
Our fears know if they didn’t come prepped with a story, we’d dump them.
Shine a bright light onto our fears and suddenly we see that the threat in the distance is really a mirage of our making.
Taking time to look at the facts in our stories can help us illuminate the real threat, which is usually us, getting in our own way.
For the rare occasions that there are facts associated with your fear or mindset block, this tool allows you to see it for what it is and take action accordingly.
Every time you catch yourself telling a story and halt, you stop the pathway in your brain from being used and begin to etch out a new one. That’s how you begin to rewire your brain and shift your mindset!
Tomorrow, I’ll pop back in with a recap and a very special offer to bring your Mindset Makeover to the next level. I’ve been working on something behind the scenes I’m super excited to share with you!
Wishing you your version of success!
P.S. I'd love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below if you've ever told yourself a story that's held you back.
P.P.S. Know someone else who might like this tool? Share this blog and Mindset Makeover with them!