Mental strength is incredibly important. Take care of your mind and the way you speak to yourself. Don’t let negative self-talk weaken you today.
Life changes every single day, and so can you.
That’s the truth, and yet oftentimes so many of us 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.
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Imagine you’re in the midst of changing jobs, building a business, or getting in shape right now. 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? 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.
Here’s what you need to start telling yourself…
When you’re feeling discouraged and doubtful, and lacking the mindset you need to step forward, reflect on the simple 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.
- 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 regarding these circumstances. 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 the Getting Back to Happy Course.)
- 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 our NEW edition 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 make a tiny bit of progress again.
- 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.
Now, it’s your turn…
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 reply below and share your thoughts.
Or, please just leave Angel and me a comment and let us know what you think of this post. Your feedback is important to us. 🙂
(Finally, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign-up for our free newsletter to receive new articles like this in your inbox each week.)
Michelle V. says
Wow! This post struck the right chord with me today. It’s such perfect reminder for my #1 vice: telling myself I’m not good enough.
I completed your GBTH course about six months ago and have referenced several of the lessons again since then. Why? Because the mindset strategies in it (and provided via the included coaching) have helped me keep my self-limiting story line (“you’re not good enough for XYZ, Jane”) in check. This post reinforces this and will certainly be used as a supplementary reference. Thank you for continuing to create positive changes in my life.
As usual, you guys delivered this to my inbox at an opportune time.
The whole concept of changing our stories to change our lives makes so much sense to me. I’ve struggled with telling myself that I’m not making progress fast enough in my professional life. As a husband and father of three, I feel pressure to be professionally successful–to give my family the best life possible. And in doing so, I frequently catch myself comparing myself negatively to other men and women in my profession who are farther along than me.
Anyhow, you’ve given me some food for thought. And for that I’m grateful.
I’m going to look into your course and your 2019 live event recording, as I’m certain I have lots of room for improvement when it comes to shifting my mindset and inner dialog. And I’m sure doing so will help me personally and professionally–two birds with one stone.
Christian Stevens says
I’m buying all 3 of your books for both my daughters for their birthdays next month. I’m PRAYING they open them up to read every word! I have felt a change in the way that I think since I’ve started reading your books and emails. I’m sure they have both learned their negativity from me & it breaks my heart.
I’d give anything to be able to attend one of your conferences but that is utterly impossible with my health & situation. Love to read your stuff!
I just found you guys while researching another change I’m trying to implement in my life.
I woke up with all the mind chat I normally have and checked my email and here you are.
Just reading this has put me in a better place and that’s so hopeful. I will continue following and reading as I need this for myself right now. Just trying to learn not to be my own worst enemy and move forward in life.
Keep doing what you do as there is power in your words. Until later, take care.
Penny Douglas says
Another “This came at the right time” message! I am facing treatment for cancer . The first time I was so positive & got through it easily. For the last few days I have been having doubts. But then your message came & I know I can beat it with the help of what I do to help myself. Take my life into my own hands, with the ‘right’ thoughts etc, make the decision to be positive…..Penny
You are already a winner. Truly!
Keep your head up, and keep it up! 🙂
Moulya Roy says
I had recently started a new job and have been looking down upon myself, lots ifself doubt and fear of failure. Just today on my way back home i was wondering what’s the purpose of all this.
And I opened my email and saw this post. It seems like the answer to my question. I have the power to create what I want to be by telling myself the story repeatedly. I know I am good enough, and I trust the universe has brought me to my current situation for a purpose.. My job is to live it…in the best way I can..by believing the success story I create.
Thank you Marc and Angel.
Maria C. says
Thank you for these posts. I read every one and am always amazed at how you pinpoint my every struggle and provide such help with understanding. Especially the ongoing unhealthy and negative dialogue in my head!!
They always push the “reset” button for me for to keep again and again!
You deliver the message SO WELL and I am so eternally grateful!
Nitya Rambhadran says
Loved the blog post here and your books! Truly motivating all around. A great resources for me.
I agree with you completely- small steps gradually helps us to achieve our big goals.
Rachel Starner says
Thanks for these important reminders this morning. As the others have said, mindset is very important and getting back to the positive is important even if you are in a spin of negativity (I find when I am conscious of it, I try to let it run its course and it usually does within few hours or maybe a day). I’m still not completely sure what the path is to what I want to do based on my current constraints but I have decided that something will come my way as long as I keep doing the work evaluating options with the thought that it could take some time. And, thankfully, we have your reminders to keep us on track if we do get in a funk or need a boost.
Marlene Abraham says
I agree with your analysis. Beginner’s Mind is key to creating a new perspective and attitude. If I want to improve and/or change anything in my life it starts with an honest decision and then action. We create our habits and our habits define who we are. There are things that we need to recognize that we do not have control over and yet there are still many choices that we can make. I do not struggle with what life throws my way. I must sometimes pause and do my personal best to use those experiences for fertilizer to grow my knowledge and emotional courage and strength. Thank you for this essay.
Dear Marc and Angel!
Thank You So Much for the Powerful guidance and encouragement, I have learned a lots of these subjects. I very much appreciate you two for the great articles and your happiness course and coaching which I’ve been working through these past couple months. You’re helping me to keep my thoughts and mind in peace, as I make progress again.
The phrase that struck me most in this very thougtful and thought provoking article was “ you are not a product of your circumstances but also of your decisions.” This is a terrific help to me right now – I do have choices. Even if I may have made poor decisions in the past but I have the choice to make better ones every day.
Anthony Byrd says
You are so right, my wife recently left me again. I have made so many mistakes and have done a lot of harm to her and our children. Now, I feel stuck and uncertain, what to do next and it’s the story I keep telling myself (I am not marriage material, I am a loser and failure, I have made too many mistakes and I can’t turn things around) that’s hurting me the most. I want to be happy but I don’t know how. Thank you for your blog. It does remind me, that I am not alone.
Paul Carvalho says
I feel so blessed to have found your web-site, I have brought two of the books you wrote, Getting Back to Happy & 1000 Little Things. I am still reading them, because I take my time so I can get the most of what You and Angel wrote about. It’s everything I need. Also blessed to receive you e-mails every week. I just want to say Thanks for what you are doing, and you are always in my prayers..
I am a better person because of what you write about. Again Thank you. Paul Carvalho
Your comments connect with me at the moment..I am 64 and u have had to give up work because of depression .stress anxiety attacks..I have lost confidence and its a real adjustment as I have worked all my adult life.. I have a couple if things in the pipeline but its moving slowly. It is hard filling my days and I need some positive encouragement. That’s just what you give me when I read your emails and website posts. Thanks again.
Thank you for the wonderful posts its giving me a different positive way of thinking of some difficulties I am going thru. Thank you
Really like this essay, thank you for sharing. I’ve been having a real hard time (with myself if I’m honest) and I’m just starting to feel like I’m reaching the other side and starting to accept myself and that I am capable of anything (well most things) I could put my mind to. Will definitely be re-reading again 🙂
Thank you very much for this post! I really needed that today.
So many things I want/need to change. I began this spring with a list of things in my life that need improvement, after a grueling school year. the year ended with an unexpected switch to a new grade level to teach in the fall, when I expected to be receiving a new out of the classroom position . Took a breath, from this hard hit, looked forward to the summer, as a recharge time, and tried to move my mind set to a positive one of “change can be good. ”
Will be reading your 10 things to tell yourself on hard days over and over, as I’m struggling with my lack of progress. My story to myself is : it’s not worth it, nice try, but you’ve got so long to go, do you really want to work this hard again and again and again??
Needless to say, I’m not making much progress on the many areas of change. I’m going to pick myself up and work on setting one or two goals per day for the rest of this week. Baby steps is what I got from your post today. Don’t look back, and have patience.
Jessa Mae Fajilagmago says
Thank you for this inspirational blog. I learned a lot and I will start now doing your tips on what I must tell to myself in times of my hard days. Your blog is such a big help to us.
This Post is exactly what I needed!
I am trying to start a YouTube Channel in vlog form and I am doubting myself a lot and overthinking it.
I am questioning myself and telling myself that I can not just start recording anything and that I need to know my “nieche” for my videos or I will never be successful.
My first video can´t be perfect and I can´t compare my first video with the last video of my favorite YouTuber but I am a perfectionist. I am procrastinating a lot because I am afraid of not being satisfied by my own content.
The first two mantras of this post are perfect for my situation and I got really emotional reading them because it´s just so true.