What is your story? What is the reality you tell yourself every day? How do you define yourself?
We choose our own story and build our own path. Yet we tell ourselves these stories everyday.
- I come from a poor family.
- I can’t do this.
- My parents were abusive so I am a victim.
- This is too hard.
- I can’t handle this.
- I’ll never lose weight.
- I hope I don’t let them down.
- This situation will not go well.
- I’m going to screw up.
We are the stories we tell ourselves.
I’ve seen it in my own family and I see it every day at work and in society. I see it on FB, I see it on Twitter, and I see it in children.
As parents we have a responsibility to teach our children how to think positive, reinforcing thoughts. We need to help them build self-confidence, give them the tools to program positive thoughts, and enable them to deal with the challenges life will present them.
My first daughter, A was quiet as a toddler and rarely spoke with anyone until the age of 6. We constantly battled new people meeting her and instantly telling her she “is so shy and she shouldn’t be shy”. We immediately said, “she is not shy, she is observing the world, digesting her surroundings, and evaluating new people”. Today, at nearly 9, A is vibrant, loves drama, dance, and wants to be her class representative. She would not be described as shy and neither would we let her program herself to think she was shy or let anyone else establish these thoughts into her mind. We found ourselves constantly struggling with family, friends, and strangers who had this view that if a child didn’t immediately smile and respond to them that the child was shy or had something wrong with them.
Because we knew our daughter’s strengths and passions and saw how she interpreted and processed the world around her we knew she was sensitive, and vibrant with a creative imagination. We wanted to encourage her to build on her strengths and continue honing her abilities for keen observations and deductions of the world around her.
Somehow, I managed to teach myself positive thinking. It’s how I made it. However, I still oscillate back and forth between thoughts of doom and thoughts of success. As a kid I experienced so much chaos, everything usually ended badly and people weren’t to be trusted. Today in my professional career I go into big events and meetings often battling feelings of doom. I tell myself this meeting won’t go well and play out in my mind all the negative comments that I’ll need to address, and devise the clever retorts I’ll drop upon them. Ninety percent of the time, my meetings go well. Perhaps my negative thoughts better prepare me for my events, make me raise the bar so high nobody else could meet it, I pre-empt the negative feedback, I anticipate the landmines. Maybe this is why I’ve done well in my career. But maybe this is also why I haven’t gone further.
I often wonder if I’d be further ahead in the corporate ranks, or would I be happily toiling away as an artisan, or running my own business by now if I’d be less obsessed with preparedness and simply believed in myself for all the successes I’ve already achieved.
I like to pose these questions, unpeel the layers of my programming, and discover new stories I can tell myself.
What is your story?