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Is it time for a new story

Today I want to talk a little bit about the stories that we tell ourselves. I recently decided out of the blue to make some candles and it reminded me that I spent almost my whole life telling both myself and others that 'I'm not creative'. A few year ago as I was spouting this old line to a friend, I stopped in my tracks as I suddenly spotted that it was just a story I was telling. And not a good story, the kind of story that was really limiting me. I decided that day to stop saying it to myself, and to other people. And suddenly just by making that shift, I gave myself permission to try creative things. I went to a life drawing class and found it totally wonderful. I made my own Christmas wreath. I did more crafts with my children. I randomly made candles just because. I started to find huge joy in being creative. And whilst it has taken time, I am starting to believe that in fact, I am quite creative.

And here's the thing... we all tell stories about ourselves all the time. Some are relatively innocuous like 'I'm not creative'. But others are truly damaging. Things like 'I'm not worthy of love'. Or 'I can never stick to anything'. Or, 'bad things always happen to me.' Or, 'I am not enough'. Or any number of other stories that we all tell. The problem is that these stories start to become our reality. Remember that our brain is always seeking to prove us right, So, if you are always thinking 'I'm not enough' your brain will help to show you you're absolutely correct. If you think 'I never stick to anything', your brain will help you to see all the times you give up on things. It's not your brain's fault. It's seeking to support you. Seeking to help you to find evidence for the things you think.

So, it's our job to take responsibility for the things that we think and say and to take responsibility for feeding our brain the things we want it to focus in on. The first step is to notice the stories. One great way is to look out for words like 'I never...' or 'I always...' or 'I am the one who...' or ' I can't...'. When you hear yourself thinking or saying these sorts of things stop and consciously think through these questions:

1. Is this a story?

2. Is this story serving me or limiting me?

3. Where does it come from? (often these stories are things other people have told us, or things we have believed since childhood, or they have come from one silly incident - see my year 9 art class below for an example of this)

4. Do I really believe this story?

5. What story can I tell myself that would serve me better? (often the opposite of your current story).

6. What practical choices can I make that will help me to change my story?

In my case, I actively and consciously stopped saying the words. If I heard myself saying them, I stopped myself and said instead 'I used to believe I wasn't creative.' I started to make choices that enabled me to feel creative. Eventually, my brain caught up with me and started showing me evidence that I was creative rather than focusing back on my year 9 art class when I wanted to curl up and cry as everyone critiqued the still life of an apple I had done for my homework!

Stories are powerful, they change the way that we think, act and believe in ourselves. But they are just stories. We can change our stories by just making the choice to do so.

What story would you like to stop telling about yourself? Can you make this the year that you change your story?

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