The Stories You Tell Yourself (and the stories you don’t)

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“You’re so good at inviting people in,” Hailey said, as we stood around her kitchen. I was talking with two good friends about a small event Stacia and I are planning to help us feel less alone and more supported in our work.

I was really moved by these words because the story I hear internally is often that I’m alone and that I’m not good at bringing people around me. The story in my head is that I do too much myself and don’t know how to share it.

Hailey’s comment forced me to re-evaluate this.

Everyone has an internal dialogue. We have stories going through our heads all the time. We have conversations with ourselves about who we are, the decisions we make, and the things we do.

How aware are you of the stories you tell yourself?[tweet that]

The voices that tell these stories come from all kinds of places in our life: loved ones, parents, teachers, bosses, friends, institutions, etc. Some of these voices are supportive and kind, while others are judgmental, condescending, and harsh.

It’s important to note that many of these voices are not your own, even though they may feel as though they are. Since we experience them all the time, it’s easy to let them go unquestioned. It’s easy to just accept that what you think is just what you think— that is, until someone challenges them and tells a different story about you. This is what happened for me last night.

Hailey’s comment challenged the story that I was telling myself about who I was and how I am with others and work.

Choosing to bring more of yourself to the world— to do work worth putting yourself into— requires an internal rebellion against the voices that keep you from speaking up, standing out, and being more of who you are made to be.

Let me say that again:

Digging deeper into work worth doing requires an internal rebellion against the stories that keep you playing it safe.[tweet that]

It is worthwhile to consider the internal battle that is part of this process. What is the temperature of your internal conversation? What are the things that are said to yourself? Are they good? And are the kind? Or are they hard and cruel?

Do you know the stories you tell yourself and how they influence you? And what are the stories you’d like to hear more of?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Click here to comment.

PS– If this means something to you, it would mean the world to me for you to share it (email, twitter, facebook, fax, print and mail, etc.).

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  1. These are good thoughts and I feel like I need to hear them all the time. It’s often hard enough to discern between true stories and false stories, let alone distance myself enough from the stories to think about where they’re coming from. As a side note, I actually clicked the link on my name to see where it went 🙂 Thanks for writing!

  2. As part of birthday celebrations, Eric’s cousins sit in a circle around the birthday person and each say something like a fun memory and/or a positive trait about the person. I like to call it the circle of trust…both intimate and encouraging. It can be uncomfortable to have the spot light on you because (as you’re saying) our internal dialogue can sound differently than what others say to us. But soak it all in!! I think people need to do this more often for each other.

    1. What a fantastic birthday tradition! And what a great opportunity to confront the internal stories with new and better ones. I agree, we all need more of that kind of positive feedback!

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