The story you have about yourself or the way you think about yourself will ultimately create your reality. With that in mind, it’s worth checking in and finding out what life script you’re working from.
We know that the way you think directly influences the way you feel and the way you feel directly influences the way you behave. For example, if you think you’re a failure, then you feel like a failure and – you guessed it – you’ll act like a failure.
So for example – you’re in primary school and you’re told you’re not a strong reader for instance or you’re led to believe you’re not very academic – so you start to form ‘I’m not good at school’ thoughts, with these thoughts you will feel a certain way, with these feelings you will act a certain way. So you act in accordance with those thoughts and feelings. It might look a little like this;
- Thoughts – I’m not smart.
- Feelings – dejected, shame etc.
- Behaviour – give up or make very little effort.
If you act in accordance with these negative feelings, it’s likely that you won’t work hard and therefore you won’t get results that make one ‘good at school’ so this further reinforces the thought that you’re not ‘good at school’ and this cycle will repeat itself over and over, making the original thought more and more powerful. When you have enough of these similar dysfunctional ‘I’m not good at..’ thoughts you form what are called dysfunctional core beliefs. These dysfunctional core beliefs, in turn, dictate how we live our lives as we have the belief or story about ourselves and we act in accordance with it. What’s more is, we are always looking for more evidence to support our story and always disregarding anything that goes against our belief. For example, you do well in something academic-related and you automatically put it down to luck or say the exam was easy. We make excuses to discredit anything that doesn’t align with the story or belief we have about ourselves.
If your story is ‘I’m socially awkward’ then you’re likely to feel uncomfortable at an event, leading you to avoid interactions, thus reinforcing the ‘socially awkward’ story you have about yourself.
So this story or belief, how do we tackle it? How do we know it’s not true? The funny thing is, even if the original thoughts weren’t entirely accurate – you’ve spend so many years living in accordance with the belief that you’ve almost made it true. Remember, the way you think affects the way you feel, the way you feel affects the way we behave. If you think you’re not good at something, you might feel resentful or disinterested, if you feel such a way it’s highly likely that you won’t try or make much effort with said topic.
Now, for the fun part, changing the story! It isn’t always easy to change your story given that you’ve been living it for so long but rest assured it is possible!
So let’s do this…
- Step One – Identify your stories – the best way to do this is to notice the things you’re saying to yourself when you’re stressed and write these thoughts down. Grab a pen and paper and write down all the things you’re saying to yourself. Are you noticing any themes? Are you putting yourself down? Is there a ‘not good enough’ theme? The possible themes are endless and unique to each individual so writing these thoughts down or speaking to a coach will help you identify these themes or stories amongst your thoughts.
- Step Two – Once you are aware of the themes or stories that are dictating how you live your life, it’s time to dispute them. This will require some exploration into where these stories came from and if there was ever much truth to the original thoughts or assumptions you made about yourself.
- Step Three – Can you replace your current fixed story with more flexible rational thinking?
Fixed Thoughts – I’m terrible with numbers
Flexible Thoughts – I can sometimes find number problems tricky
Fixed Thoughts – Everyone here is more talented than me
Flexible Thoughts – There is some great talent here and we all bring different skills
Fixed Thoughts – I’m always late, I’m such a disaster
Flexible Thoughts – I’m not always on time but this is something I can work on
The key isn’t to replace all your negative thoughts with positive thoughts. The key is to become aware of your thoughts, try to pinpoint where they came from and then start to replace the negative thoughts relating to your old story with more rational flexible thoughts. When your thoughts are more flexible and rational, your feelings will be more hopeful and positive which will positively impact your behaviour. When you consider the link between your thoughts, feelings and behaviours – it’s most certainly worth exploring your thoughts.
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