99% of the time, the only thing standing between you and your goal is the fateful story you keep telling yourself about why you can’t achieve it.
Life changes every single day, and so can we. That’s the truth, yet oftentimes we feel hopelessly stuck against our will. Why? Because the changes we seek breed uncertainty, and life can be hard to navigate when we’re uncertain about things.
We feel confused and displaced, and we begin filling our gaps of understanding with stories about how life is. But these stories often do us more harm than good.
Imagine you’re in the midst of changing jobs, building a business, or getting in shape. What’s the story you’re telling yourself about incorporating this change into your life? Does it involve you being the confident hero of the story? Or a character that doesn’t believe he or she can do it, and is therefore reluctant to even try? If you’re thinking the latter, you’re not alone – lots of us struggle in this same way.
Now, take another moment and imagine if the great fictional stories of our time went along the lines of the self-defeating stories we tell ourselves:
- Bruce Wayne never tries on his Batman suit because he doesn’t think he has what it takes to make a difference in Gotham City, so he sits at home and browses social media instead.
- Buffy Summers refuses her role as a vampire slayer, because she has never tried to slay a vampire before, so why start now.
- Harry Potter doesn’t battle Voldemort because it’s too much work for a kid his age, and he decides it’d be a lot easier to stay in his room and play video games.
- Frodo Baggins gives the One Ring back to his cousin and heads back to the Shire, because he believes the quest ahead of him is far too risky.
These would be awful stories, wouldn’t they?
And yet, the stories we tell ourselves about our desires and goals tend to follow along these same unfavorable lines. As soon as the going gets slightly tough, we fall apart from the inside out.
Consider a recent example in your own life:
What’s a positive change you’ve tried to make in your life, but have desperately struggled with?
Whatever the positive change is, think about the story you started telling yourself the minute you realized you weren’t making progress as fast as you expected. Do your best to visualize the story in detail so you can better clarify what’s been really going on in your head. This is quite significant. Because the story you tell yourself in your head is often the one that gets written in reality.
Sadly, I bet you fail because of this story more frequently than you realize – it likely gets in your way far more than any actual real-world obstacles you’re facing. And it starts off something like…
- “I’m not good enough…”
- “I suck…”
- “I’m going to fail…”
- “I’m just wasting my time…”
- “It doesn’t matter that much anyway…”
- “It’s not worth the time and risk…”
- “I’ll do it tomorrow instead…”
- “I’d rather watch Netflix…”
So what can you do if your story is hurting you more than it’s helping?
Change the darn story you’re telling yourself!
Be the hero of your story.
These mantras can help you do just that…
Daily Mantras for Changing Your Story
When you’re feeling discouraged and doubtful, and lacking the mindset you need to step forward, reflect on the mantras below. Over the years, Angel and I have worked with hundreds of course students who have successfully used these mantras to change their inner dialog and fuel their positivity on the toughest of days. So pick one (or more) that’s relevant to your present struggle, and repeat it in your mind until it sinks in…
- Allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being great. Do the best you can until you know better. Once you know better, do better.
- Stop running away. Breathe. Be where you are. You’re where you’re supposed to be at this very moment. Every step and experience is necessary. (Read The Power of Now.)
- Use disappointment and frustration to motivate you rather than annoy you. Be mindful. You are in control of the way you respond to life.
- You are not a product of your circumstances. You are a product of your decisions. It’s about deciding to NOT let your frustration or fear decide your future.
- Don’t compare your progress with that of others. We all need our own time to travel our own distance. Focus on the step you are taking now, and make the best of it.
- In a culture that seeks instant results, we must learn the beauty of effort, patience, and perseverance. Be strong, present, and steadfast. Stick to your positive daily rituals. (Angel and I build positive daily rituals with our students in the “Goals and Growth” module of Getting Back to Happy.)
- Patience is a genuine expression of confidence, acceptance, serenity, and faith in your own ability. It’s a sign of strength. Practice it.
- As you face life’s inevitable obstacles, remember, it’s far better to be exhausted from lots of effort and learning, than to be tired of doing absolutely nothing. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Your struggle is part of your story. Being rejected from something you want often means you are being directed toward something you need…to take the next best step forward.
- No life story is one chapter long. No chapter tells the whole tale. No mistake defines who you are. Keep turning the pages that need to be turned.
Big Changes Happen Gradually, in Small Steps
All details aside, when it comes to making a significant change in your life – finding a new job, building a business, getting in shape, fostering a new relationship, starting a family, being more productive, or any other personal journey that takes time, patience, and commitment – one thing you have to ask yourself is:
“Am I willing to spend a little time every day like many people won’t, so I can spend the better part of my life like many people can’t?”
Think about it. We ultimately become what we repeatedly do. The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing – growing happens when what you know changes how you live. Every single day.
It won’t be easy. You will inevitably struggle along the way.
But the story you tell yourself will get you there, step by step…
As long as you tell yourself the right one:
The one with an unmistakable hero, played by YOU.
We would love to hear from YOU.
So let’s revisit the questions presented in the body of this post:
- What’s a positive change you’ve tried to make in your life, but have struggled with?
- What’s the story you’re telling yourself about this change/struggle?
- How is this story affecting you?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Also, our next annual Think Better, Live Better conference is taking place February 18-19, 2017. You can get a discounted early bird ticket right now, while they last. Note: you can watch short clips from our 2016 event here, here and here.