What is the story you choose to tell yourself about your life?
Is it one of hardship and struggle or one of accomplishment and joy?
For years, the story I told myself about my life was one of hardship and struggle. My parents didn’t give me enough attention growing up. Nothing I did was ever good enough. I could never get a lucky break. My supervisors were always gunning for me.
As a result, I was always in a hurry to get somewhere else, because, whatever was happening, Now was no fun. I would rush around, tense and anxious, honking at anyone who got in my way (literally and figuratively).
This way of approaching the world—through my story of constant struggle—caused regular disappointment. Nothing ever measured up to the way I thought things should look. There was a never-ending sense of urgency about my days. I was fast approaching burnout. Disappointment, time urgency, and burnout are some of the stress warning signs that arise from the story you tell yourself.
You live with your symptoms for so long that you identify with them, believing that you are your symptoms.
You pride yourself on your perfectionism, not seeing how it erodes your happiness and increases the pressure you put on yourself and the world around you. You feel satisfaction as you vent your anger and hostility, hoping to control the uncontrollable.
“I’m just an angry person,” you declare. Or, “My perfectionism makes me better at my job,” you think.
Instead of seeing anger and perfectionism for what they really are, learned behaviors, you take them on as unchangeable aspects of who you are.
Instead, you can unlearn some of your old habits, reframe your self-concept, and take control of a more desired behavior.
When I began slowing down, taking more time for myself, reflecting on my life, and realizing I had a choice about which story I could tell, beautiful things began to happen.
I saw that my life has been a series of amazing adventures, aided by a cast of loving and supportive friends. I realized that my parents did the very best they could. Even the challenges I’ve met along the way, while sometimes difficult, have provided the influence needed to grow and expand.
Bring to mind a challenge you faced in the past. What was something good that came out of meeting that challenge?
Write down three of these things, and see how you feel. Triumphant! Powerful!
Focusing on the positive brings strength and turns future challenges into opportunities for growth. This is the key to being resilient: seeing challenges as later triumphs.
Conditioning your mind for this perspective by seeing your entire story, up to this point, as a story of success brings more of it.
The beautiful thing is that we can always rewrite our story. The way we’ve told it so far is just one perspective.
What’s something that happened to you that seemed almost insurmountable, but looking back, was a powerful turning point that came at just the right time? Share your story below!