Warning: stories can destroy your life

iStock_000015344866XSmallStories can ruin your life.

I’m talking about the stories you tell yourself – those particular sentences that you repeat to yourself and others OFTEN.

A client of mine frequently said this to me: “I haven’t made any money this year.”

Think about the feelings of inadequacy and resentment and failure that she experiences every time she thinks this.

Once I recognized the pattern, my client and I completed an exercise where she totalled all her invoices for the year. She was astounded and how much she had actually earned.

Sometimes she still tells me that. I remind her and she lets it go.

These are some of the stories other clients of mine tell themselves:

  • I haven’t done as well in life as I should have (Despite having a job he enjoys, good remuneration, solid relationships etc)
  • My boss has it in for me (all the bosses from her last 3 jobs??)
  • I don’t get enough sex (I remember a story about Woody Allen who said “We hardly ever  have sex – only  3 times a week.”  His wife said, “We’re always having sex – about 3 times a week”)
  • I have no energy (Despite the fact that she is extremely productive and gets more done in a day than anyone else I know)

These stories are destructive because of the feelings that are generated every time we buy into them. These negative feelings lead to a consistent loss of self-esteem. This leads to unhappiness, loss of focus and an inability to achieve goals.

The main reason these stories destroy is because we tend to notice only the things in life that support the story. We totally ignore anything that proves the opposite of the story. This way we can believe the story. We continue to repeat the story to ourselves – over and over. The destruction continues.

We live the story.

Here’s what you can do to change this:

  1. Become aware. Listen to yourself when you are chatting to friends. Listen to yourself when you are driving your car or in the shower. Make a note of the things you are telling yourselves and others about you. Do this for a month. You will soon pick up the most common negative story you are telling about yourself.
  2. Choose one story that you wish to change.
  3. Start an evidence diary. Take a few minutes every day and write down anything you have done or thought that provides evidence for the opposite version of your story. For example: if your story is that you are stupid, write down EVERYTHING you do that shows your intelligence: I wrote a good report today; my boss praised me in the meeting; my husband was impressed with the catering I did for his Birthday. Keep collecting evidence, big or small,  until you have pages and pages that disprove your story. Eventually your subconscious mind will adopt the new story.
  4. Let it go.Every time you start telling yourself of someone the story, stop yourself and  merely let it go. Even if you stop mid-sentence that’s better than nothing. Eventually you will train yourself to not tell that story.

Practice these steps every day. If you forget for a day or two don’t give up. Just start again and continue doing the steps.

One  day you will notice that the destructive story has become a powerful and constructive one.

Well done!!

Is there another story you’d like to change? Get going!

Oddly enough, we come to rely upon our own stories so much

that it seems that all we can tell ourselves are stories as well.

Roger C. Shank


About Kirsten Long

Coach. Toastmaster. Prison-worker. Wife. Mother. Friend.
This entry was posted in Feelings, Life Mastery, Self esteem, Thought Patterns. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Warning: stories can destroy your life

  1. Olaf says:

    A particularly disabling story that I find myself going back to is “I have always quit too soon”. This is because I left school before Matric, then left numerous jobs because I thought I had found something better, and wanted to prove to my colleagues how smart I was. It was the same with further education: either didn’t finish various courses after paying for them, or only finishing them because there was a financial incentive, such as a pay-back from my employer for proving that I had completed the course. This is probably the most destructive story in my life, and I really need to change it.

    • Kirsten Long says:

      Thanks for your comment. Follow the steps from the blog. Put ANYTHING on your evidence that you finished. Even things like brushing your teeth!! Every day add to the list… Some hard work now will pay off for you in your future. That sentence does NOT define you. Stop allowing it to. Kirsten

  2. Jessica says:

    Thanx you for this post.As I reflect on it,I too realise that when I think the opposite of my negative story,I receive more positive energy.It’s very hard to remember to let things go.By practising these exercises I will build my self esteem.

    • Kirsten Long says:

      You are absolutely correct Jessica and that’s an important observation. When we dwell on the negative, we deplete our energy reserves. Focusing on the positive does help to build them again. Having a solid self-esteem also paves the way for an abundance of energy – used constructively we can build on the life of our dreams.

      Thanks for your comment.

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