This week on the blog, Life-Coach Anne-Marie Southcombe, shares tips on how we can assess our inner voice to see how it shapes our external narrative and shows how our individual outlook on life can affect how we communicate and share news with others. Keep reading to gain a new perspective on how evaluating and reshaping the stories we tell ourselves and others can have a positive impact on our life.
Whether it’s to share the latest news in your life, describe an incident or express the reasons why you feel a particular way about something, most people communicate in the form of a narrative, or in other words, by telling a story. We don’t just relate to others in this way, we also tell ourselves stories about everything we do and everything that happens to us.
To some degree, this is how we make sense of ourselves, our relationships, our experiences and the world around us. This internal narrative can be quite persuasive but it’s worth reminding ourselves that it is heavily influenced by our individual perspectives. Think about it, have you ever shared an experience with someone but in the retelling of this experience, you discover there are differences in each of your accounts?
We all have our own unique perspective that is coloured by our mindset, our values, personal beliefs, experiences we’ve had, likes and dislikes, even our emotions in that moment. Our perspective is also shaped by years of patterning, habits and behaviours that affect who we are and how we see the world.
Then there is the inner critic, also known as the inner gremlin; that voice in our heads that judges and demeans us. It too has a substantial impact. So taking all of this into consideration, it’s important to realise that the narrative (or story) we tell, is really our interpretation of the facts as we see them. This doesn’t mean that the story is untrue; rather it is just one perspective.
A few years ago, I was teaching a workshop and there was a person in the group who I sensed wasn’t really interested in the material I was teaching. There were lots of little reasons why I thought this, a comment, an expression, a lack of engagement, the person’s body language but nothing concrete. Yet I was certain.
So imagine my surprise when I received a text the next day with some very positive feedback from this person. As a teacher, you develop the ability to sense the energy in the room and the level of engagement from each student but in this case, my interpretation of the information I was sensing was inaccurate or incomplete. Once I received the text message, the story, I had previously been convinced of, changed in accordance with my new perspective. That is the thing to remember, our stories no matter how compelling can be edited, rewritten or reframed.
This concept is quite thought-provoking especially when applied to our internal narrative. The internal narrative can shape not only who we are and how we relate to people but also who we will become and how we live our lives.
How can you use this concept to affect positive change in your life?
Start by paying attention to your internal narrative. Notice what you are telling yourself about everything you do. Also notice what you say to others about yourself. Notice how these stories make you feel whether mentally, physically or emotionally. How do you feel in your body, your mind, your heart, your gut, your breath? If the story makes you feel good, that's great, just acknowledge it!
If the story makes you feel negative or stuck, don’t act on it straight away. Instead, try sitting with it for a while and observe, non-judgmentally, how it makes you feel. What is the tone of the story; anger, resentment, frustration, inadequacy, self-pity? How does this tone make you feel? Ask yourself? “What am I believing about myself, this person or this situation?” Is the story 100% accurate and true? What are you not taking into account? What else is possible?
Pay attention and gain a new perspective.
By simply paying attention and questioning yourself in this way, you will gain a fresh perspective.
Try it now... Do you ever stop yourself from doing something you really want to do? What is the story you tell to explain this? Be aware of your internal narrative and if it makes you feel negative then ask yourself the questions above and take note of the answers that come to mind.
What's stopping you?
Some stories are so unconscious or automatic that they play out and stop us in our tracks without us even realising. This is where working with someone who is qualified in this area can really help. One of the skills of a life coach for example, is to ask the right questions to help you discover and identify the ways in which you hold yourself back; to uncover the story you are telling yourself.
Sometimes these stories are so embedded they can take a bit of time to reveal and modify but the process of becoming aware of the story is often enough to kick start a positive change. Your life coach can then work with you to delineate the most effective way for you to edit, rewrite, reframe or create a new story from your more enlightened perspective, so that you can ultimately move forwards in your life.
So what’s your story? Is your story holding you back or moving you forwards?