The Power of the Story We Tell… Ourselves
I walk out of the house, and get in the car. A strange frown crossing my face as this sense of complete deflation comes over me.
“Whoa, hold up a second,” I think to myself. “I was in a great mood just before I left, what in the world happened???”
Ever had one of those moments?
Where it seemed like something shifted in a matter of seconds?
Most days, these kind of emotional swings happen to many of us without any
conscious awareness. We’re in one mood, and then all the sudden in a completely different one.
That’s because we all have stories, inner conversations, and sometimes full out technicolour Oscar worthy monologues running that completely shift how we feel and how we show up in the world.
The stories that we tell ourselves can be one of the most empowering, or one one of the most crippling things we ever do to ourselves.
Yes, I said, do to ourselves.
Not someone else.
Not an outside circumstance.
Not what someone else said or did.
What we do to ourselves.
Over and over again.
Until we learn to do it differently.
In order to really get this in a way that empowers us - beyond surface level rah-rah hyped up positive thinking that lasts about as long as we can contain it - we’ve got to understand what’s happening inside our minds.
That’s how we begin to take back some control of the seemingly flighty thoughts, feelings and images that threaten to drown us like a rising tide.
If you’ve ever felt like you’ve got a million things going through your head every day, you’re not alone. In fact, new cognitive neuroscience research anticipates that on average we have about 6200 thoughts a day.
That’s a whole lot of thinking.
Here’s why this is important: our thoughts lead to our feelings and emotions, our emotions impact our behaviour, and our behaviour dictates our results.
Our results being whether we accomplish what we set out to accomplish. How we interact with people in our key relationships. How we feel about ourselves - our grit, confidence, self image. Whether or not we have the courage to do the things we dream of. How we handle (or don’t) our relationship with money and our finances.
The list is as endless as the possibilities of what we human beings create in the world.
Which means that getting a handle on our thoughts and the stories we tell ourselves - the first domino in the chain - is the most powerful way to leverage and directly influence what it is that we desire to create.
You might be thinking: Andrea, If it really were that simple, wouldn’t more of us
be doing it?
Yes, and no.
(I say yes and no, because some people get pretty big emotional pay-offs from staying exactly where they are - even if they are unhappy. But that’s a whole other conversation…)
So assuming that it is that simple, and you are someone who desires to influence your own thoughts in positive ways that support you, the question is HOW?
How do we go beyond “just think positive” so that we have an undeniable experience that it is possible to directly influence our thoughts in ways that support us?
The first step is to recognize that we are all imagining things all the time.
Some of us imagine more visually. Being able to picture things easily or vividly. I have friends who are so visual that they can design an entire house from the wall colours, to the design, to the accessories at the snap of a finger.
Some of us are more auditory. Being able to hear the nuances of sound. The
rhythm and cadence of music. Picking up on the subtexts of tone of voice. Or maybe, like me, talking to yourself inside your head, a heck of a lot.
I can always tell when my mom’s upset or something is wrong by the tone of her voice!
And some of us are more kinesthetic. Being able to sense things - maybe the vibe of a place, or someone’s emotions, or how things feel. It’s also literally how things feel. Like being able to get a sense of how to put things together so that it all works.
And some of us imagine in ways that are unique inside our own minds. Sometimes with tastes and smells and so much more.
Let’s test this out for a moment shall we?
Let’s do an experiment!
Step one: Read the sentence below, then close your eyes and do it.
Imagine a puppy. The most adorable puppy. (Go ahead, close your eyes and do it.)
You were probably able to imagine a puppy really easily.
We’re going to do it twice more now.
Next one - imagine a sunset. (Go ahead close your eyes and do it; then open them again.)
And finally bring to mind a good memory. A happy memory.
Notice what happens when you think about your happy memory.
(Go ahead close your eyes and do it; then open them again.)
Here’s why this is important - most of the time, our thoughts, how we imagine and how we picture them, are running unconsciously in the background.
Most of us are unaware that we’re able to influence them.
Until we learn how.
Then the world changes.
Back to our experiment.
Step two: Read the instructions. Then close your eyes and test it out.
Bring back to mind the image you had of your happy memory.
Make it black and white.
Move it out so that it’s far off in the distance.
Until it’s teeny tiny.
And then open your eyes.
Now when you think about your happy memory how’s it different from when you first thought of it?
Notice what the difference is. Maybe there’s less pull towards it? Maybe it’s
feeling a little less happy? (Don’t worry, we’ll bring it back in a moment!)
If you are like most people, there is some kind of difference now than when you first thought of that happy memory.
This is the key to how we start to shift the quality of our thoughts and by extension our feelings: by shifting how they are coded inside us, we start to shift our experience of them.
Step three, Let’s bring your happy memory back! Read the instructions and then do it.
Bring back to mind the teeny tiny, black and white image of your happy memory.
Zoom it back in until it’s in the perfect position.
Make it bright.
Make it colour.
Adjust it until it looks and feels just right again.
And then open your eyes.
You’ll probably find that when you think of that memory now again, it brings back those feelings of happiness.
Here’s what I find fascinating in all of this: after 8 years of working with clients using these kind of processes, we are able to create internal shifts in our thoughts and stories in a very, very short period of time.
Sometimes we create profound shifts in just minutes with things that people have been struggling with for years, just trying to “think positive.”
And that creates a completely different outcome in real life.
One client went from being $30K in debt to paying it off in just 3 months.
One client went from having $5 in her bank account, to landing a $10,000 client - the day after our session.
I have clients who haven’t had confidence in selling their services, move into being able to offer $2000, $6000 and even $150,000 services!
I have clients who celebrate - every month - having courage to do the things they dream of.
This is what’s possible when we go beyond thinking positive and learn how to manage our mind.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to think more optimistically or positively.
It’s an important decision to make.
It’s probably the very first one that sets us down a path of empowerment.
However, one of the missing pieces is how you start to influence the quality of the thoughts, without getting bogged down with the content of what’s in the thoughts or stories and beliefs that no longer serve us.
You just got one of those missing pieces and it’s so simple: starting to play with how thoughts are coded inside of you. Shifting the colour, the proximity, the
There’s definitely a deeper aspect, and it goes a heck of a lot faster when you work with someone like me who has helped hundreds of clients do this kind of work.
But this is something that you can start with on your own. Today. Inside your own mind.
Here’s what I love most about this process: it doesn’t require trying to prove or disprove what happened or didn’t happen.
That helps us bypass the need to be right. Or the need to prove someone else wrong. Or need to relive a certain unwanted experience over and over. Or needing to share what happened if we don’t feel comfortable doing so.
It gets us right into the heart of transformation.
It’s simple, and yes, it takes a little bit of practice. That’s why being in a community of others who are committed to becoming self-aware and doing the work on themselves makes it a heck of a lot easier and a lot more fun.
So, what if the story we started telling ourselves is one where we DO have the power to shift our thoughts? That we can shift our beliefs? That we can shift our coding? That we are capable?
That’s a story I love.
I invite you to try it on for size.
And notice what happens when you do.
It’s just like that moment when I realized that I had been in a good mood just a few minutes before, but then found myself with a frown on my face feeling completely deflated.
I rewound what had happened in my head.
Getting into the car? Already deflated.
Coming out the front door? Definitely deflated.
Putting my shoes on? Deflated.
Getting ready in my room? Feeling great! Happy!
Leaving my room? Great! Happy!
Seeing my grandmother at the dining room table? And the look on her face?
Ahhhh that’s where it happened.
You see, there’s this look that my grandma gives. For the longest time when I got that look, I would feel horrible afterward. But when I got present to what was happening in my head, I realized that in a split second after seeing that look, I’d have a picture with running commentary in my head about how stupid and useless I was.
Not the best way to start my day as I was headed to a networking event.
But now, because I was aware, now it was a matter of choice: do I choose to believe the thought and the movie in my head about how stupid and useless I am? Or do I shift it into something that is more supportive of how I want to feel?
Once I realized what had happened in my head, it was a matter of seconds to fix.
At the next red light, I did just that.
I closed my eyes for a few seconds.
Blew out the picture of grandma making the face. Made it black and white. Teeny tiny out on the horizon until it disappeared.
I opened my eyes, and thought “How do I want to feel instead?”
Light-hearted, fun, full of life and love.
Immediately a memory of a beautiful summer drive with my mom popped into mind. A day where we were curious. Laughed for hours. And felt so full of love.
I closed my eyes again.
Made that picture big and bright. Saw myself experiencing it all over again. Felt the feelings.
And opened my eyes.
It took seconds for everything to shift.
It starts with something as simple as this: understanding and starting to experiment with the structure of our thoughts and noticing what happens when we shift how they’re coded.
This is the power that we all have. The power to transform the thoughts that no longer serve us. To bring in the ones that empower us.
I invite you to play with this. Experiment with it. Notice what happens.
And notice how this begins to shift the story you tell yourself.
Liked this blog post? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback! You can find me and all the exciting things happening in my world on Instagram or inside my Total Boss Club Facebook Group.
About Andrea Ivanka - For over a decade Andrea Ivanka has been helping female leaders & entrepreneurs to unlock their mindset and potential so they can build their best businesses and live their best lives. Andrea helps successful female entrepreneurs lead the way into their next income level with the Total Boss Approach™ combining aligned energetics with leading edge business strategy that allows them to fall in love with their business and make their big vision happen. She stands for authenticity, courage, integrity and fun.
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