THE IMPACT OF THE STORIES WE TELL OURSELVES
Did you see the film, Wonder Woman? If you did, you may recall a part where she (Diana aka Wonder Woman) is in the trenches with all the soldiers and she is told that no one could gain the territory they called No Man's Land. In fact, she's informed that "It's not possible." But she doesn't listen and decided to do it regardless. This results in the occupation of No Man's Land and the small town behind it.
Throughout the entire movie, the people around her are telling Diana all the things she can't do or imposing their beliefs on her about what they think she shouldn't do. And it's rare that she takes what they say to heart. There are only a few short clips where someone else's story for her affects her. She has a mission, she believes in herself, and nothing will deter her from her goal.
Wonder Woman is a fictional character, sure, but why has she resonated with so many people all over the world? Because she tells herself her own story of what she is capable of and what she will overcome. When is the last time you told yourself that story?
Instead of stories about bravery, our strengths, and our undeniable power, we tell ourselves stories of our fears, our heartaches, and our faults. We take the negative things someone may have said to us and spin them into stories we believe are true. And then we tell ourselves those stories over and over again. Once we've told ourselves our negative stories, exposed our faults repeatedly, and fully believed in their "truth," we put ourselves in No Man's Land- the impossible expanse to cross. And when we don't cross the expanse, we live between who we think we are and who we really want to be.
A false belief.
I want to you hold the thought of the expanse for a second while I share another story:
In Tim Ferriss's book, "The Four-Hour Work Week," he shares a story of encouraging a classroom of students to participate in a special challenge. He asked 60 students (who volunteered excitedly for the challenge) to reach out to someone "unreachable" like celebrities, world leaders, CEOs, etc. and receive an answer to any question the student may have. All they had to win was show they had contacted the most hard-to-reach person and asked the most intriguing question. The winner would get a round-trip ticket to anywhere in the world. I'm, of course, completely summarizing the situation but that's the gist of the challenge he set. Of 60 students, not one, not a single one, attempted to contact a hard to reach person. When asked about why they had not completed the challenge, some cited laziness but others said that they felt they didn't have a chance at winning- that someone else would be more creative with their question or get the best celebrity and it wasn't worth competing against that. In fact, if someone had just tried and submitted their question, they would have won!
We all find ourselves with false beliefs about what we can do and how we may compare to others. These are stories we share with ourselves that continue to perpetuate the expanse we've created- the one that is impossible to cross because we tell ourselves we can't.
I share these two situations with you to show the impact that self-talk and internal stories can have on our lives. When we tell ourselves stories of our best traits, we are more likely to try and succeed. When we continue to perpetuate the negative stories, we never take a step into trying. How many times have you stopped yourself short because of the negative internal dialogue you've told yourself? I'm willing to bet it's more than any of us would like to admit. How many times have you told yourself positive stories and tried new things? This one I'm betting is fewer times than we'd like to admit.
In episode 20 of the Happiness Abound Podcast, "Accepting the Opportunity to be Bold," I share a story of how I told myself to try out for the school musical and how I told myself that I could sing. I practiced and continued to up my positive self-talk until the auditions. There I sang my heart out and was awarded a solo. While that episode is about accepting chances to be bold and reap the rewards, there's a correlation to the stories we tell ourselves when those chances arrive. Will you be Diana and ignore the outside stories other have for you? Will you jump at the chance to talk to your hero and win a round trip plane ticket?
Whatever story you tell, make it a good one.
We each have stories we tell ourselves and opportunities to take. It's time to identify which stories are serving us for the better and which stories can be erased. Whatever story you tell yourself, make it a good one because that story will help you cross the expanse and discover the best version of you.
You can hear an audio reading of this blog post on Happiness Abound, The Podcast- Episode 79. Subscribe to Happiness Abound, The Podcast on iTunes or GooglePlay and follow us on Facebook or Instagram.