We know what we want, we know who we want to be, and yet, it’s so hard to stop being the way we are and become this new person with healthier beliefs and behaviors.
One major obstacle to change are the negative stories about ourselves that we tend to repeat over-and-over again.
These stories bring us pain and keep us stuck in the past:
“I’ll never find a good man.”
“I always screw things up.”
“My childhood was awful.”
“My last girlfriend messed me so much that I’ll never get over her.”
By repeating these stories, we stay stuck in them.
We want to believe we’ll find a good man, that we can do things right, that our childhood was pretty good in many ways and that we will love again despite what our evil ex-girlfriend did to us.
But, why is it so hard to shift our mindset? Because we cling to our precious stories. A friend of mine calls it “My Precious Story”. She told me that for many years she wanted to be right and self-righteous more than she wanted to be happy and free. Now, in her 70’s, she usually laughs when “My Precious Story” appears. She doesn’t believe her own stories anymore.
And she is happier than she ever was when she believed them.
Carolyn Myss, in her book, “Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can” writes: “Your biography (aka ‘your precious story’) becomes your biology”. What we tell ourselves about who we are and what happens to us creates not only our mental health, but also our physical health.
Freud said that our subconscious always says, “Yes” to whatever we tell it. When I say, “I’m such a loser. I’ll never be happy.” My subconscious says, “Yes.” When I say, “My life is changing and I am leaving my past behind.” My subconscious also says, “Yes.” What stories do you want your subconscious agreeing with?
So how do I change “My Precious Story”? Try these three techniques:
1. Be willing to be wrong about your precious story: one of my precious stories was “I had a rotten childhood and I’m permanently scarred by it.” This is a pretty heavy story to believe and, not surprisingly, it did not create happiness or freedom for me.
I began to say, “I am willing to be wrong. I am willing to be wrong.” It sounds simple, but it is quite powerful.
Saying this may bring up some strong emotions for you. That’s to be expected, just keep saying: “I’m willing to be wrong.” It starts to create some “space” in your psyche, where your rigid beliefs can start to “melt” a little.
2. Begin to tell yourself a “new” story. For example, “In many ways, my childhood was pretty good. I’m grateful for those good times.”
Your new story focuses on the good, the possible and remembering what went well.
If some guy from OKCupid stops returning your texts. Instead of telling yourself a story like: “Guys never find me attractive. I always do something wrong.” Tell yourself a new story like: “I am an attractive, desirable woman and I attract great guys to me.” Focus on what is good and what you want, not what negative things happened to you in the past .
3. When you are tempted to make up a new negative story, like: “I’ll never meet a good man/woman; I’ll always be single.” Instead, try saying: “I don’t know and I don’t need to know.” This is another way to avoid telling yourself some rigid, self-destructive story that just grows stronger-and-stronger and makes you feel worse-and-worse over time.
“My Precious Story” – whatever yours is – has a lot of power to affect your life. You can use this power to keep yourself stuck in those old, negative stories or you can stop repeating them and replace them with new stories that open up your consciousness and make way for good, new things, people and experiences to come to you.
The choice is yours.