Bernie Anderson
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Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Stop Lying To Yourself: 4 practices to change your personal narrative

This week has me thinking a lot about stories and changing your personal narrative. There is so much power in this particular concept. Our self-talk (the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves) can be the deciding factor in so much of life.

And, as with all concepts, execution is king.

How do we change our own personal narrative? I am not convinced this something we can simply decide to do one day. It takes more than a mere decision. At least for most.

There are four basic activities that make narrative change possible.

Input

There should be many things influencing my thinking other than just my thinking. Cannibalizing thoughts have led to the destruction of many. When we only self-check, it's nearly impossible to change the narrative.

So read more. Read diversely. Listen to opinions and arguments different from your own. Get creative input and write out the possibilities. This will expand your thinking and help you realize that there is more than a single narrative.

Reflection

We don't take the time to think anymore. Thinking requires concentrated effort, and can't be done well with a phone in hand or the TV on. Taking sustained, uninterrupted time to think, reflect, and problem solve is critical for narrative change. Mind mapping helps me with this process. I use an empty desk, post-it notes, and 4x6 cards for analog mind-mapping (which is my personal preference). I use the Scapple app for the electronic version.

Figure out your motivational triggers.

Renee's grandfather (now passed away) smoked for decades. I don't know what narrative he was telling himself, but he continued smoking well into later life. That is, until one day while watching television, he saw an ad for some sort of "quit smoking" aid that cost money. Money was the trigger for him. He decided that day that he didn't need to pay anyone money to quit smoking. He threw out his cigarettes that day and never picked them up again until the day he died.

We all have triggers which motivate us to action. It could be a deadline at work. It could be financial. It could be health. For some, it's the inevitability of death. Figure out what motivates you to act and to story tell. Let your reflection feed your motivation.

Find like-minded community.

Yesterday, I was reminded of my need for like-minded community. After talking to an old friend on the phone for two-hours, I realized that this conversation had changed my narrative. His words of encouragement and grace helped me to see a bigger picture. It changed my self-talk from toxic negativity to something more uplifting, hopeful, and helpful. Sometimes the only way out is not only through - but through with someone else. We are only going to be as strong as the people we hang out with.

I am super grateful for this friend.

At the end of the day, we become the sum of the stories we tell ourselves. This is not hyped-up, self-confidence, positive-thinking mumbo-jumbo. For me, at least, this is living by faith, and of recognizing what is true and rejecting what is false.

Because the only time my personal narrative needs to change is when I am lying to myself about myself.

This happens far more often than it should.