Writing your own stories
As I was growing up, I enjoyed cycling, playing basketball and running occasionally. At school, however, I tended to be one of the last people to get picked on sports teams and never thought of myself as a particularly athletic person.
Recently, I’ve found some new forms of exercise and am learning how powerful it feels to become physically stronger as a woman.
This has caused me to reflect on the limitations we absorb from others or put on ourselves for no good reason. Girls aren’t generally encouraged to test their strength while boys aren’t supposed to show their feelings openly or cry. Why not?
There are stories we’ve been repeating to ourselves for so long that we never even think to step back, question and do something about them.
‘Alia was always the best at art — I’m not the creative type’
‘You’re so disciplined! I could never do that’
‘They’re all smarter and more talented than I am’
‘I’m very awkward socially’
‘I’ll be much happier once I’m in a relationship’
‘I was doing much better for a while but now I’ve fallen back into a rut’
These stories are all very convincing. I know, I know, we probably have plenty of evidence to back them up. But what if we have made them true simply by telling them over and over again?
We tend to look at those we idolize and convince ourselves that we don’t quite have what they have; that we are incapable of contributing to the world in the way they have. What if these people who we admire are just like us except that they have chosen to believe in a different story and act in a different way?
You don’t get to decide everything that happens to you, but you do determine your perspective and habits — this is key. Here are two things that may help you as you begin to change your stories:
1. Seeking out and listening to stories that resonate with you (you can do this by reading, listening to podcasts and talking to people you respect).
2. Small actions repeated on a regular basis. Whether it’s exercising daily for 20 minutes, cooking a healthy meal every few days or writing 300 words a couple of times a week, taking regular action is transformative. Ryan Holiday makes the point that ‘Confidence is based on what is real — it is earned.’
The power to create new stories and bring them to life lies in our own hands.