01 Sep 2019

How changing your story can change your life

The stories we tell ourselves are dangerous. In this fascinating TED Talk Lori Gottlieb claims: “The way we narrate our lives shapes what they become”. The way we talk to ourselves has the power to really mess us up. But we can use the power of our stories to our advantage. If we can change our stories for the better, we can change our lives for the better too. 

A key element of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. It’s important to reflect on the stories we’re telling ourselves and challenge them: Are we really narrating the full picture? Is the way we’re telling our stories, the way that a friend or colleague would tell them? 

When we feel hurt, lonely or down, we create all kinds of stories, distorted through a very narrow lens that we don’t even know we’re looking through. We’ve effectively become our own fake-news broadcasters. In the workplace, disengaged employees talk about feeling trapped. But if we want freedom from our “emotional jail cells” we need to take responsibility for our role in the story. And we might just have to change. 

So how do we go about it? A good way of looking at it, is to imagine yourself as the editor of your own story. Lori says: “You can let go of the one version of the story you’ve been telling yourself so that you can live your life, and not the story that you’ve been telling yourself about your life.”

The first chapter might be terrifying, but once we start the editing process, the next chapter becomes easier to write. Consider: What would happen if you looked at your story and wrote it from another person’s point of view? What would you see now from this wider perspective?

We need to be honest with ourselves and decide which stories to listen to and which ones need an edit. And what have we left out? Let’s be the hero and not the victim in our stories. We have a choice. Whatever we choose to put on the page lives in our minds and shapes our realities. 

As Lori says: “There’s nothing more important to the quality of our lives than the stories we tell ourselves about them”.