We tell ourselves stories all the time, and that's part of being funny little humans.
We all have our own unique realities and different levels of awareness in our own lives, people around us, our own selves, and what society expects from us. So we create stories in our minds of what we believe, they may or may not even be accurate, we view them as our own truth. Our stories are so unique that they are like our fingerprints, no two alike.
When coaching, I hear stories of the future, a play-by-play of what they believe the future will play out. More overthinking, fortunetelling, predicting, and assumptions. Some are detailing how good or bad they are at things; some are how others are right or wrong—all stories.
We create a narrative based on our life experiences up to this point. We wear our own glasses and see through a lens that filters out what we believe or interpret. There are an infinite amount of perspectives that could come from any situation. These stories we manufacture are just a state of overthinking.
Every person will formulate a different story or conclusion from the exact same situation. Most play out hypothetical stories that are the worst-case scenario—envisioning every possible lousy outcome that could happen. This is how overthinking or storytelling can become your worst enemy.
We aren't drawn to do things that create pain or fear. Think about it you don't buy anything without a good feeling attached to it; every sales person knows this, and in any possible transaction, they are looking for a good feeling to focus on to get the sale. We are drawn to do things that create pleasure, love and joy, so story telling or overthinking is a bad habit.
- How we like or dislike our job and find proof to back the story up.
- How our spouse/partner is supportive or controlling, having examples of the past to prove the point.
- "I should do ___" A lot of stories begin with I should or shouldn't, shoulds are expectations of others or stories someone has told us.
- Imagining the event your friends invited you to this weekend as fun or as an anxiety-producing event.
- Seeing oneself as a critical part of a company or believing they aren't good enough and perhaps their boss is a micro-manager.
- How you're a "procrastinator," or have you just been busy/sidetracked with unexpected things that life throws at you?
- Comparing and judging self to what others do, "I wouldn't do that," "they shouldn't do that."
- "I am a ____ person" I am, I don't, and can't statements are almost always stories.
"The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change your story." Michael Margolis
We are absent from the present when we live in mind full of stories. We are distracted and stressed out by various stories that could prevent us from even taking action. A busy, sped up, overthinking mind is heavy, a burden and creates a flood of cortisol that doesn't help our overall state of mind and health.
How much time do you spend a day overthinking and storytelling?
What movies are you playing in your mind when lying in bed at night or driving?
Here's my suggestion: improve your awareness of the stories you tell yourself. Notice. Do you feel unhappy, sad, fearful or have something you want to start doing but are held back for some strange reason? There's a story there. Take notice when you feel resistance, that sense of wanting to step forward but then taking two steps backward. There's a story there. Storytelling is a habit, and with some support, you can break this habit and build a new one!
"If someone corrects you, and you feel offended, then you have an ego problem." Nouman Ali Khan
I love this quote; it made me chuckle reading it. It's true; our stories are our ego at play. Our ego is neither good nor bad, but it can be toxic if we allow it to create stories and believe them. Our ego can generate friction, give us a sense of being better than others, and limit us from learning, being open, and trying new things.
We can't change what we aren't aware of. This is where coaching is so powerful it creates space to talk about anything you want to move forward with, be it a goal or breaking or making a habit. The language spoken is a glimpse into your thoughts, just a tiny fraction of your thoughts. A skilled coach like myself picks up on repetitive words, stories, and limiting beliefs. We start to believe it when we keep telling stories or hearing anything. Ever watch the news? There's a reason it's on repeat. When we are close to our issues or dilemmas, we are often unaware of our own limiting factors. We all need support and coaching; I might be biased, is vital to all humans.