We all have a story don’t we? We have a history of many experiences that have shaped us and made us who we are today. A narrative about the past, and how that defines us. We have a story about why we behave this way, and why we do that. Why not take a moment and think about some of the stories that you tell yourself. Are they stories that you want to keep telling yourself? Are they uplifting or depressing? Are they encouraging or demoralising? Are they empowering or disempowering? What is the general theme of your stories and how do they affect the way you think, feel and behave?
What I’d like you to understand about stories is that they are exactly just that, imaginary tales generated by our own imagination. They’re not real, they’re just bits of fiction that we’ve made up. They may be based on true events but much of the story is still fabricated by us. You make your story to defend yourself and to make yourself right. Now if your story is a good story with a very happy ending, fantastic. Keep telling yourself that story for as long as it serves a useful purpose in your life. If not, then it’s time to change it.
I used to suffer with social anxiety, I told myself that I wasn’t good enough, that I was in some way sub-standard, not the same as anyone else, beyond fixing. This story held me back in pretty much every area of my life and I created poor coping strategies to help me through life. In my early teens I began smoking to fit in, not wanting to stick out from the crowd. At 18 I decided to get a job behind a bar in the hope it would make me more confident. It didn’t make me more confident – I’d stand at the end of the bar, chain-smoking to occupy my mouth when I didn’t know what to say. Cigarettes and alcohol would be my crutches in social situations.
I met my partner Andy in my mid-twenties, and I began to wonder if my story was true, but it was so ingrained I couldn’t quite shift it. Then at the age of 31 I decided I wanted to start a family. My smoking was a real issue though. I was now smoking 60 cigarettes a day, mainly funded by my credit cards. I couldn’t afford to start a family and I certainly didn’t want to smoke whilst pregnant. Despite using medication and nicotine replacement products I could not stop smoking. I told myself stories to defend my smoking habit and the reasons why I couldn’t stop. It seemed that I wasn’t destined for motherhood… but then a miracle happened.
I decided to see a hypnotherapist to stop smoking and he helped me change my smoking story. I realised stopping smoking was easy not difficult, that all the stories I’d told myself to justify smoking were complete fiction. In fact, my new story was life is easier, happier, calmer without cigarettes. I fell pregnant and gave birth to my beautiful daughter. Now the story I’d told myself about not being good enough had holes in it. How could I create this amazing little being if I was sub-standard? It was like a domino effect, the next few years were a period of self-development and self-discovery as I re-wrote my stories one by one. I retrained as a hypnotherapist and I now barely recognise the person I was.
Don’t let your stories limit you, it’s time to re-write those tales of woe and get curious and excited about who you’re becoming. If you need a little help to change your stories so that you can feel better, think better or behave better, then get in touch.