A brief encounter & the stories we tell ourselves

5th June 2019

I bumped into a lovely chap that I know last week, and we had a form ‘verbal handshake’ that really got me thinking. He’s one of those people who has a great, infectious energy and he always feels to me like a “mood radiator” as opposed to a “mood hoover.”

When we do the usual “hey/hi/hello, how are you?” we usually expect, and get the typical “OK/fine/not bad, how are you?” I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t give much thought to what I say here…it’s a form of ‘autopilot response.’

What stopped me in my tracks with this guy, was when I did my usual “hey, how are you?” He said “Living the dream….riding on a crest of a wave!”

Now I know the cynics out there are probably thinking….sounds corny, cheesy and maybe even insincere…and maybe it was said a bit tongue in cheek, but it got me thinking about the power of the language that we use and the stories that we tell ourselves!

There’s all sorts of neuroscience now that is showing how what we say to ourselves or think about, actually shapes our brains. Elite sports people have long understood the importance of visualising success – and the interesting thing is the brain can’t distinguish between what we visualise/imagine and what we actually do. If we visualise winning, we experience the same flood of feelings etc that we would if were actually there…having successfully crossed the finish line!!

Now I don’t know about you, but I find that totally mind blowing!!

The stories that we tell ourselves are REALLY important; and what I mean by that are the things that we say and the language that we use. We can fall into the trap of using pejorative or negative language, that really isn’t helpful. In fact, talking about and to ourselves in this way only serves to make us feel worse and keep us stuck.

Here’s a few examples that I’ve heard in the last few weeks;

I’ve had a BAD day

I’m NEVER going to be able to change things

I’m TOTALLY useless

I could go on, but you get the picture!!

Just imagine what it would feel like if someone else were to say things like that to us. We’d feel pretty awful wouldn’t we? Yet that’s often how we talk to ourselves. And ironically, the more we repeat stuff like this the more we convince ourselves these comments are actually true…our brains react each time just as if each of these statements IS actually fact!!

It struck me after my ‘brief encounter’, what if I said to myself that I AM living the dream? How would it feel? What if I told myself that ‘I am on the crest of a wave…and it’s bloody brilliant!!!’ I tried it for a few days and I gotta tell you it DOES feel amazing…it made me realise that there is so much to be grateful for. It was like a little pat on the back from a close friend or a supportive comment from someone you trust. It’s amazing the mini boost you can give yourself by ‘telling yourself a different story’…

I’ve had a busy and productive day…rather than a bad day.

I am doing the best I can to change what I can….rather than I’ll never be able to change things.

That’s not my signature strength, but I’m working on it…rather than I’m totally useless

Listen to the stories that you’re telling yourself and make a conscious effort to rewrite the script….and I’ll bet you’ll start to feel the difference!!