The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Did you know that you are an amazing storyteller? Yes, you.
I am also a very good storyteller. We all are. We tell ourselves stories all the time. We tell ourselves stories about who we are, who we want to be, how people perceive us, who we should be, who we cannot be, and so on. That is fine. These stories serve a purpose. They come and go and may even differ somewhat from day-to-day.
Some of our stories are public. We tell them to our friends and we tell them at work. Some of our stories are very private. These are the stories we hear as the inside voice that no one else can hear. We can call this voice different things, depending on its role at any moment.
Sometimes the voice acts as an internal advisor, sometimes as a judge, and sometimes as a dictator. It may also be our internal parent, telling us right from wrong, and so on.
The Attachment to Our Thoughts
In psychology, we call the attachment to our thoughts “cognitive fusion”. According to psychology researcher, Steven Hayes, the concept of cognitive fusion means buying into what your thoughts tell you (taking them literally) and letting what they say determine what you do.
For many years, I had been telling myself this story that I had to be perfect. I had to be 100% ready to do stuff, accomplish things beyond my limits, and be liked by everyone. I had to have a perfect body, a perfect mind, etc., or else.
I’m not exactly sure what I thought would happen if I wasn’t perfect. But, I eventually realized that this story did not serve me, and I needed to learn how to tell myself a different story.
What Stories Do You Tell Yourself?
Sometimes we don’t even realize the stories we are telling ourselves, especially when we have been telling them for a long time.
Maybe you have a book you want to write or a project you want to launch. Maybe your inner voice is telling you “I will do it when…,” or, “I will be ready when…,” or “[Something] will happen when…”; insert whatever story you are telling yourself. How long have you been telling yourself that – someday – you will do whatever it is you want to do?
We get really attached to these stories, and that is when storytelling becomes not so good for us – when it limits us from what we are able to achieve. Are your stories keeping you from doing what you want or hope to achieve? What if I told you that your stories don’t have to define you?
Defusing From Your Story
Are the stories you tell yourself true? Are they real? Sometimes. But there are likely some stories that you’ve created for yourself, based on your thoughts. Would you like to defuse from your story? You can, with this simple and short exercise.
Finish the following 3 sentences:
- I am (positive description)
- I am (positive description)
- I am (negative description)
Now think about these statements for a minute. Are they true? Really? All the time? Every moment of your life? Every second, and in every situation? Or, are they just stories you tell yourself?
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