Change Your Narrative, Change Your Life

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I want to share a beautiful note from a client that I think everyone can relate to. We were working on writing narratives that support her goals and here is what she said.

By the way, she told me to share it. 🙂

“I just wanted to say, that I’ve started playing a game with myself today. It’s called, “What’s My Narrative” so every time I talked or listened to someone today, I asked myself, “what’s their narrative…and moreover, what’s my usual narrative?” I tell you something. Developing my emotional muscles for a new narrative is so nice. I don’t go down a spiral, and on the occasion when I did start to descend, I caught myself immediately and said, “No, that is your old narrative….here’s your new one…and then I started to recite it”

If there is a single piece of advice I can give it is this: change your narrative, change your life.

We live in an ever moving world. Each moment is interpreted. Each interpretation is unique.

The train is late. Your child pushes boundaries. A stranger is rude. Your boss is unfair. You have relationship difficulties. Your career is unstable. Life can be challenging. We cannot stop the world from throwing punches. The boss will be rude and the train will be late, but we can always adjust our narrative about the moments that ultimately make up our lives.

I get it.

Just yesterday, I went to a coffee shop to take a break. I drove home and parked my car over a pile of glass. I set my beautiful cup of coffee down on my bumper to see if I had damaged my tire and my fresh cup of coffee fell to the ground.

I had a choice.

“I cannot believe I drove to the coffee shop and now my coffee is ruined. Why does this happen to me? I really needed a break and now I won’t have one all day… blah blah…” Or I could do what I did…

I laughed.

I hear the same comments over and over. “Laura, I get it, I can look at a cup of coffee differently, but you don’t understand, my relationship or child or job or childhood is really serious.”

And again, I understand. A cup of coffee is not the same as a major health issue. Or is it?

Unfortunately, I cannot control my delicious cup of coffee slowly streaming into the city sewer system and I cannot control the weather, health crisis or other people. Our family is facing a serious health issue. In the end, the impact of my cup of coffee on my emotional life and my family’s health issues equally depends on my narrative.

Everything is dependent on my narrative.

The Late Friend

Version one: “My friend is late again. She does not respect me and my time. Clearly she does not care about me because her lateness is a sign that I am not as important as her other tasks. I am not important to her or anyone because I really don’t deserve friends that treat me well…”
Version two: “My friend is late and is not prioritizing my time over what she is dealing with. Maybe it is serious. I will ask before jumping to a conclusion. Once I have information, I have to make a decision. Do I want to remain friends? I cannot change my friend – she has her narrative about lateness and she is committed to it. I can express how I feel. And if that does not work, maybe this is not a good friendship for me.”

The Rude Neighbor

Version one: “I cannot believe how rude that guy is. I will show him who’s the boss(fight ensues).” Or, “why is she so mean to me. She hates me. I don’t fit in here. Maybe I need to buy a better outfit and then I will be more likeable.”
Version two: “People can be rude. Lots of people are rude, mean, and angry. What is their narrative? Why are they so mad today or in this life? I cannot change the person’s mood, but I can stay clear of them and move on emotionally as quickly as possible. I don’t want their mood to ruin my day. Other people’s moods are not about me.”

A Health Crisis

Version one: “Why is this happening to me? I cannot deal with it. I am afraid, alone, sad, and no one understands. No one gets how hard this is for me and my family.”
Version two: “Everyone has had some sort of difficult time or they will. I am not alone. I am supported, loved and pain is part of life. This will pass. I am not entitled to a life without challenges. I will trust my friends, family, and myself to move through this with grace and kindness to myself and my others, even if it overwhelming.”

A Difficult Childhood

Version One: “My father or mother FILL IN THE ENDLESS BLANKS. I am not lovable, capable, valued, seen, cared for. My parent hates me, disapproves of my choices, disrespects me, mistreats me, even abuses me. I will prove myself one day. I will never be good enough. If I change myself enough, they will love me.”
Version Two: “My parents love me, but they are limited. What I needed was not part of their skillsets. I am grown now. I am free. I am able to design any life I want. I do not have to accept their views and beliefs because, as an adult I am allowed to write my own rules. I am grateful that they brought me life, but they do not own my life. The best part of getting older is that I am able to design any life I desire. Let me take the time to write my own narrative for my family.”

Every moment, whether you are conscious of it or not, is your personal narrative. Like my client said, “what is my narrative? What is their narrative? What is my typical narrative? What is my new narrative?” Develop a new muscle: write a new narrative today when faced with a moment that brings up that same old story.

If a moment does not feel good, you have the choice to write a new story. Let go of the old stories that create those old feelings and draft a new one with a new outcome and have a happier day. Try it out and let me know how it goes!! [email protected]

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