Life Matters · Opinions · Reflecting

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

‘Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded’ Gautama Buddha

Thoughts are just that: thoughts. They’re not facts or artefacts. They’re not necessarily true or correct. But, boy, are they powerful!

I believe storytelling and listening to stories is part of what makes us human and it’s something people have always done. We do it to make sense of our world and how we experience it.

As a writer, stories are my thing. I love the whole process of crafting a story from initial thought to finished novel.

As a reader, I love to be told a story, to be transported, taken out of myself by someone else’s thoughts and words.

But there’s an aspect of storytelling that’s not so positive and not so enjoyable. And that can be the uncrafted, unedited stories we tell ourselves.

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The Story Goblin

Many of us succumb to the goading and taunting of our own thoughts. I know I do. The story goblin in our heads knows all our baggage, all our triggers, all our awful ‘what if’ scenarios and it’s all too ready to jump right in there and take control. Next stop: horrible, out of control anxiety or a drastic drop in self-esteem.

However, if we’re aware of what’s happening, then we can take back a bit of control. Otherwise those powerful stories will sabotage us and may seriously affect our mental health.

While it’s true we can’t control everything that happens, we do have some say in how we react.

So if you make a mistake, or get hurt, or are presented with a stressful or unfamiliar situation, it’s healthier not to go off on one. Don’t follow that goblin down the route to ‘I’m such an idiot,’ or ‘I should have expected it and I deserve it’ or ‘this is going to end unbearably badly’.

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Edit or delete

So what can we do? How can we get a bit of control over the stories we’re telling ourselves? Well we can:

*STOP. RECOGNISE WHAT’S HAPPENING. BREATHE. PUT THAT NEGATIVE STORY AND THE GOBLIN IN LIDDED AND LOCKED BOX. LEAVE IT THERE.*

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THEN

Redraft and reshape

Show yourself some compassion. Forgive yourself. And don’t have catastrophe mode as an automatic, default setting. Be realistic.

We can’t prevent our thoughts. We all have them. We can’t function without them. But we can employ an inner editor. We can decide on what are the useful, truthful and inspiring stories. Yes we can still get stuff wrong, hurt or be hurt, find ourselves in scary situations, BUT we are also the editors of the stories we tell ourselves about our lives. We can control our reactions. We can shape our own stories.

Are you stalked by a version of the story goblin? Or have you learned ways to be the active author of the stories you tell yourself?

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “The Stories We Tell Ourselves

  1. I think we are all stalked by the story goblin. Fortunately, when I’m busy, I get enough good input in my life to offset the disappointments – most of the time. If I don’t I try to move on and find something physical to do until the monsters go away!🙂 Have a great week, Anne. I’ve been loving all the tweets and retweets.🙂

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