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Is it Time to Change the Narrative?

Updated: Mar 10, 2019

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Are you holding on tight to a storyline in your life or career that is no longer serving you?

If your narrative is not serving you it’s likely getting in your way, limiting you from exploring new options or making different choices.

When we replay our thoughts and feelings over and over again in our minds it’s like digging a groove. We become grounded in a past narrative and in a negative spiral. We are unable to move forward.

A successful business owner client came to me to help grow his business. He’s very skilled in many areas of running his business. However, taking the business to the next level will require letting go of some of his day-to-day tasks to create the time and space to be more strategic. Coaching has highlighted his resistance. He concluded that he’s tied to a long-held narrative about not being good at visioning, planning and creative thinking. Our narratives can hold us hostage.

Recently I was facilitating at a team retreat. One of the creative professional leaders was curious about why he wasn’t able to change an established routine in an area of his personal life. He was being encouraged by loved ones to make a shift that would free up his precious time at the weekend, but he was unable to. He was jolted into clarity. His narrative is connected to the important caretaker role he plays for a family member, which makes it difficult for him to pull back. Our narratives can be sticky and elusive.

A recently promoted senior-level corporate client is struggling around the issue of money. She’s successful in her career, highly educated, and a high earner. But, the narrative she tells herself is that she’s not good with money--her parents didn’t have a healthy approach to money and she’s not role modeling good money management to her own children (she’s not). Her narrative around money generates emotions of fear and frustration. Our narratives can be persistent and be handed down within our families.

Other undermining narratives that surround our lives and our work experiences may include the traumas of being laid off, ill health or going through a relationship breakup or divorce. These narratives can be particularly consuming and tormenting, leading us into self-defeating patterns.

Some strategies to help us cope and reset our narratives include:

Self-acceptance: Understand we are suffering and this is a setback.

Self-awareness: Understand our feelings and what triggers us.

Self-compassion: Treat ourselves the way we would treat a friend, with kindness.

Commitment: Make a choice to have a positive mindset.

Normalizing: Changing our narrative is hard. It’s hard for everyone.

Permission: Empower our loved ones to interrupt us in our storytelling.

Visioning: Focus on what could go right.

Start Small: Do just one thing differently.

Use Mantras: Give our mind something to do by repeating a positive thought instead of trying to silence a negative thought. For example “Today you are perfect!”

Tell positive stories: Stories we tell can change our brains and our behaviors. Positive stories can change outcomes (just as negative ones do).

If you are ready to challenge a narrative and make changes in your life these strategies are a good place to start. They can help produce a narrative reset that will shift your brain into a productive mindset.

If a professional partner could be useful as you look to move beyond your narrative, drop me a line.

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