Last week we discussed the incredible power behind the stories we tell ourselves – those things we repeat over and over again to ourselves, about ourselves.
This discussion obviously resonated with a number of people as I have spent a great deal of time since posting the blog last Wednesday talking with folks who have called in to share how their lives flipped 180° when they changed the stories they were telling themselves.
Let’s let Mike and Barb retell their stories in their own words.
“I can’t seem to remember a time when I wasn’t constantly berating myself. For as far back as I can remember I have felt the presence of a black cloud over my head and it didn’t take too long before experience taught me to constantly expect the worst.
“No matter what happened, no matter how promising a new venture, I was always convinced of, and waiting for, impending doom.
“I grew up in an environment where the most commonly repeated conversation around the dinner table was about how tough life is, how bad the world is and how life will always be a struggle.
“And sure enough, life was tough, the world seemed bad and everything was as struggle.
“I lived my whole life that way. I always looked for fault and focused on the downside in everything. To me the glass was always half-empty and not for a moment did I believe that it could ever be full.
“One day I was sitting in my doctor’s waiting room, flipping through a magazine when I came across an article on self-talk. The writer was talking about how, by changing what we keep telling ourselves, we can change our entire outlook on life.
“So I half-heartedly decided to give it a try and, to my absolute surprise, I noticed that I began to feel a little better, that the world looked a little sunnier, and that the feelings I had about my future appeared a little brighter.
“And the more I did this, the better I felt. Then after a short while it struck me that my colleagues at work were spending a little bit more time chatting with me, inviting me to join them for lunch and that I was having much more success in dealing with customers.
“It reminded me of a really corny cliché I heard years ago that said, ‘It’s your attitude, not your aptitude, that will determine altitude’, and as silly as that seems, that became my reality.
“My life is still not perfect and perhaps it never will but it is certainly a whole lot happier and that’s really the reason why we’re here, isn’t it?”
“I have been a fairly positive person for most of my life and have always had a high level of confidence in my abilities.
“A couple of years ago something happened that completely shook my confidence and was the beginning of a series of disappointments that I now, with the benefit of hindsight, believe that I conspired to bring into my own life.
“There was a job posting my company for senior management position and I applied for it, fully expecting that the job would be mine based on my experience and track record.
“On the day the announcement was to be made as to the new VP, I was summoned to the CEOs office for a meeting. I remember feeling quite cocky as I entered his office fully expecting to be appointed to this position.
“I vividly remember the feeling of shock and disbelief I felt when he explained to me that both he and the Board of Directors felt that I was not ready for this position, would not be for several years and that they were bringing in a new VP from outside the company.
“It was in that moment that for the first time in my life I began to doubt myself and for the next couple of years that doubt crept into every decision I made. And each time I made a decision it was if I was validating to myself all the negative criticism I had been heaping upon myself.
“It was only when my husband pointed out to me how negative and critical I had become that I realized what I was doing to myself and to those around me.
“I put great effort into focusing on all the strong skills and traits I have kept reminding myself how good I am. It wasn’t long before my colleagues noticed the change and several of them took the time to stop by and say ‘Welcome back.’
“I taught myself a hard lesson, but an extremely valuable one. I learned that we are indeed the story we tell ourselves, and that if we care at all about who we are, then we need to form a powerful habit of telling ourselves really good stories.”
Their stories are our stories and I am deeply grateful to them for taking the time to share their stories and, in so doing, teach all of us a lesson we can never hear too often.
I would love to hear your story too.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
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