Our Stories Define Us

14 Sep 2017

Our Stories Define Us

We all have stories.

Stories of how we got a scar, came into our line of work, got married, and chose our home and so on.

We tell these stories to parents, friends, supervisors and lovers.

We also tell them to ourselves.

When we meet someone new, we introduce ourselves with a story.

Our stories define us. They help us find and restore our place in the world.

So what really is a story? A story is a lens on the world.

Where do stories come from? We hear them and form them from our parents, teachers, friends, culture, religion, TV and even the guruji our family follows.

Our minds weave our experiences into narratives that explain our lives back to us, and hence create meaning for future reference.

It happens at all ages.

But here’s the question: Are our stories true?

Are they enabling our work, our relationships and our life in general?
Or are they disabling us?

So the first building block of our story is belief.

The beliefs that we have are the long standing views that we have about ourselves, others and society. They are the rule book that we carry around in our head – the story. We believe our story, no matter whether it is true or false.
Our stories and beliefs have psychological power over us, our stories affect everything in our lives: the way we create meaning, think, make decisions, justify actions, view past and future, persuade others, create our identity, and forge our place in the world.

This story has a larger impact in our life. It is not just a constant running commentary in our head. It affects other aspects as well. It affects our emotional state, our mojo. What is mojo? The mojo I am referring to here is the positive state of mind, the motivation to go on.

When we start a new initiative, we are very excited. We start with goals and a list of things to accomplish. After a while, it’s normal to reach a stagnation point. When that happens, the motivation is lost temporarily. What happens next in our minds is critical.

At this point, the inherent story that is running in our sub-conscious mind takes over. It takes over in the form of either a motivating, optimistic self-talk or a pessimistic, negative self-talk. This self-talk becomes louder and louder, until it becomes our thoughts.

And so what this means is that our stories can help us. Or disable us.

If the story is positive, it is due to an empowering belief and the person will have a positive attitude. Those with positive stories bounce back faster despite setbacks. They are self- motivated. When in doubt, they would take a break and re-strategize in order to get back in the game and win.

If the story in the head is negative, powered by a disempowering belief (which may be untrue or skewed), then it can be detrimental for progress. The negative attitude that the person may develop can make the person ineffective, negating all efforts made to grow, be happy and be successful.

The negative attitude leads the individual to an emotionally weak and un-resourceful state. Our stories, especially the negative ones, can lie dormant most of the time and can get activated only when a crucial situation triggers.
In effect, what this means is that we become what we think of ourselves. If we believe we cannot achieve something, we would get into a negative emotional state and our very posture and body language changes to match our story. The negativity in the mind permeates to the body.

With Chapter Two, you can change the inherent story, the one that kicks in when your motivation drops.
When that happens, you can tell yourself the right story, the empowering story, every time.

About the Author:

Sandhya Reddy is a leadership & transformation coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.

Many of us in our thirties experience a disquieting realization: what brought us to middle-management may not take us to senior-management. This is true. To chart a new career path, one needs to think and do things differently. This is where Sandhya can help. She is a coach. Life coaching, executive coaching, personality development, leadership coaching… they are all part of her forte. Her Executive coaching programs helps tomorrow’s leaders set new goals, make new plans to achieve those goals, get that elusive promotion through a blend of knowledge, action and image-building, enhance influence among the leadership team, be more productive, get more out of one’s team, and be known in the company as an indispensable performer and future leader.

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