Jo Becker

Writing

Stories and advice about pursuing the things that are important to you.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

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We are all filled with stories we tell ourselves, and it can be hard to remember what is true and what is not. These tales may be rooted in childhood, linked to something someone once said, or a symptom of the comparison trap. Most worryingly, they are often false, and if we fail to recognise and address them they can be very limiting.

What are the stories you tell yourself? For me, it’s that I am lazy. But recently, I have been trying to challenge that for two reasons:

  • It can become an excuse, or a self-fulfilling prophecy;

  • Upon reflection, it’s not true! 

I’ve lived with this story for several years, but when I look back objectively and see all that I have achieved in that time, I can’t see how a lazy version of myself could have done it. But instead of noticing what I have done, I tend to focus on what else I could have done, and / or what I could have done better. I tell myself I was too lazy to do more, and therefore I should limit my expectations for the future because I’m likely too lazy to do much else.

FALSE. An excuse? Certainly not a prophecy I want to fulfil! So it is time to dig deeper, and change the narrative. Sound familiar?


WHAT IT REAL AND WHAT IS IN YOUR HEAD?

It is important that we take thoughts and stories that may be false, and may be limiting us, ’to court’ - we must seek evidence for and against them to test their accuracy.

It is true that I am dreadful at being on time (overly optimistic, or actually sometimes just too scared or overwhelmed to get going). I work best under pressure. I am a night owl. And I am surprisingly deeply shy about striking up a conversation.

But so many things I think about myself, upon examination, are actually not true. These include being bigger than I “should” be, being a bad friend, being too slow to reply to text messages and emails.

Being lazy is the biggest of these stories; I frequently tell myself that I’m not doing enough or trying hard enough. But when I seek evidence for this story in the moment, I can’t find anything conclusive.

Sure, I have days where I’m tired and achieve less than I hoped. Yes they could be considered ‘lazy days’ - but they’re actually necessary to balance out the intense days. I do sometimes have mornings where I find hard to get out of bed, especially if I’ve had a really busy few days - again, isn’t that a balance? And on occasion I simply can’t be bothered to take out the bin (one of my few regrets about being single is having to do such jobs myself ;-)) - but on reflection I think that this is part of being human!


SET YOURSELF UP TO SUCCEED

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I do know that I can chronically over-schedule myself, essentially setting myself up to fail. I’m harder on myself than I would ever dream of being with anyone else. And I fall into the comparison trap and assume everyone else is smarter / working harder / better than me - it’s amazing what scenarios little Instagram windows can conjure in our minds!! 

If I managed these things better, would I feel less lazy? If I leave space in my week for an ‘off’ morning, would I be able to pace myself better, and create a self-fulfilling prophecy of achievement? Would ‘I’m too lazy’ stop working as an excuse to avoid something that’s difficult or requires discipline? Yes, yes and yes. 

Creating a loose schedule can help to define what is a ’non-negotiable’ in my week, for all aspects of my work and life. Time is can consistently be blocked out for the most important things, with plenty of space to fit in new and emerging or unexpected things in, as required. 

Just one of many little things that see us setting ourselves up to win. For me, it is a big part of correcting the story that I am lazy - I know that a few key things will happen in my business every week, and these small achievements keep me feeling on top, and motivate me to do more.


ACTION STATIONS

Bit of a throwback, but linked to my thinking about the stories I tell myself was was my (somewhat accidental) choosing of a word for 2019. The word is ACTIVE. 

I’ve adopted it as a little nudge, to ensure I don’t do myself a disservice by telling myself I’m lazy when actually, I have achieved and do achieve a lot. It prompts me to get a wriggle on when needed, and in telling myself that I am active, I am doing more than ever. There’s that self-fulfilling prophecy!

Are there any stories about yourself that you would like to address? Anything you’re telling yourself that could, in fact, be holding you back? Any prompts to keep you on track when these falsehoods arise? I hope this helps you to see what might be blocking you.