The stories we tell ourselves

The last PMH #SelfCareSaturday was a wonderful day. It was so lovely to meet new friends and catch up with those I’d met before. One of the conversations we had yesterday was around what people got from the PMH community, and I think the word connection sums it up.

Yet, whilst we seek and crave connection, it can often be hard to reach out and get what we need.

I know there had been some worry about coming along to the day, questioning what is going to happen? What am I doing meeting random people off the internet? Oh, why did I say yes?

But I think everyone was glad they’d made it, despite train cancellations, driving new and unusual routes, and journeys that were longer than the time they spent in Birmingham.

Pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones is so important and the older we get, the harder it can be.

And by comfort zone, I don’t just mean the jumping out of an aircraft kind of comfort.

I mean the comfort of familiar patterns of behaviour, or the comfort of playing small, being invisible, or whatever is needed to facilitate ‘life’ for those around us.

The actions we take or don’t take are borne from the stories we tell ourselves, and they are borne from the stories we have been told.

There are the big ‘life’ stories we tell ourselves:

Oh I can’t do that, I’m not sporty.

Oh that’s not for me, I am not creative.

I can’t ride a bike, wear a bikini, believe in myself, effect change, drive to London…

Someone once told you something to make you believe this is true. It is not.

There are the more mundane, day to day stories we tell ourselves:

My husband didn’t hug me, there’s an issue between us.

We don’t have any milk left, what a trashy parent I am.

My child didn’t answer my text – they’ve been eaten by a velociraptor.

As you can see from that last statement, the stories we tell ourselves can be fanciful, untrue, and downright unhelpful. They can take us from hero to zero in a matter of a sentence and keep us in a place where we struggle to make good decisions, where our belief in the good is reduced, and can lead us towards living in our own self-generated anxiety.

By believing the stories we tell ourselves we begin to engage with the world based on what is going on in the narrative we’ve created. We can see life through a false lens. We respond to our interpretation of the situation, rather than what is really going on. And this is dangerous because we can misunderstand intention and end up with chasms between us and others based on untruths and constructs we have created.

And these untruths can stop us from stepping forward, having a go, being our best self. They can stop us from stepping outside of our comfort zones of behaviour and reaction, because sometimes it’s easier to think that playing safe is the right thing to keep the peace and retain stability.

But there’s some really good news.

You’re in control of the stories.

You can make them up.

You can rewrite the ones you don’t like and create some new shiny, super duper ones.


So today, I’d love you to start to reflect on a few things if you feel inclined:

  • Identify the stories you tell yourself

What are the stories you’ve constructed to help you make sense of the world.

2) See how they are impacting on:

Your view of yourself

Your relationships

Your belief in your amazing power to effect change

3) Ask what’s true, what’s right, what’s helpful

There may be some amazing stories – hold onto them.

There may be some painful stories – treat them with respect.

There may be some ridiculous ones – laugh at them and let them go. (You know my approach to letting go of things – love, peace, and a swift kick up the bum!)

4) Write a new chapter.

When you actively reflect on the stories you tell yourself, it can help you to be more present, more brave, more you.

And then you can begin to create a new story. Start with a simple change.

I am creative.

I am beautiful.

I am able to cope.

See how you feel then.

And if you feel you can’t change the story for you, remember you have an audience in your children. Make some small tweaks to the stories they interact with and see what the difference is.

Like the 10 amazing women who travelled literally miles as well as a distance out of their comfort zone to connect with others yesterday, I hope that you can tell yourself a good story today.

Remember, you are the narrator of your life. You are in control of the ending.

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