Changing the Stories we Tell Ourselves

The way we see ourselves, and the things that happened to us, are not true reflections of reality. They are merely constructs that our mind has pieced together.

Yet those constructs are believed, and they influence what we do, how we see ourselves, and our relationships with others. Thus, they’re very, very powerful, for they influence everything.

For example, if I think that you don’t like me … that you’re tolerating me … that the lovely things you say are really fake and insincere… then this will shape and influence how I feel and act with you.

It will become my embodied experience.

Mostly likely …

I’ll feel bad about myself. A bit unsure and insecure. And I’ll start to feel quite anxious when I’m hanging out with you. Perhaps I’ll stutter and I’ll stammer, and I’ll say some stupid things … for I can’t be my real self … Because I’ve lost my confidence.  

However, if I’m able to reframe this, and believe: “Perhaps you like me”, then I’ll likely feel relaxed, and I will feel more confident.

Thus, it will change my experience, and the lens I view life through.

But Here’s the Thing …

Because these stories have deep roots, we cannot change them overnight.

It’s not a simple thing to change our ingrained, core beliefs.

We need to start by casting doubt upon these faulty narratives, and to contemplate the fact that this might not be the whole truth.

It’s one interpretation that, perhaps, could be reframed.

Taking Some Other Examples …

We can internalize “bad things” like being mistreated by my mom, or being abused by my dad, or being betrayed by my life partner as being confirmation that: “There’s something wrong with me.”

Alternatively, we can think:

“My parents had real problems”, or

“My partner or my spouse had issues with attachment that he worked out on me.”

And that kind of mental shift makes all the difference in the world.

Reframing your Narrative Could be Important too …

If you think about your narrative – the stories you believe – you may well find they’re negative, distorted and untrue.

And yet these false beliefs affect the way you live your life, the way you treat yourself, and how you form relationships.

How do we Move Forward?

In counselling, we start to chip away at these beliefs. The things clients believe which cause them grief, and keep them stuck.

We ask if they’ll be brave and start to play with the idea that, maybe, people like them, and think they are worthwhile.

Then, we look for some exceptions – times when others respond well … or seem to care about them … and see their gifts and strengths.

Thus, this process of being curious helps to open up their mind. It gives them the permission to reframe old beliefs.

It starts them on the journey of challenging wrong thoughts, and writing a new story: a much better narrative.

“The only person who can pull me down is myself, and I’m not going to let myself pull me down anymore.” – C. JoyBell C.   

19 thoughts on “Changing the Stories we Tell Ourselves

  1. I love it! This is the answer to your ten points, the other day, that described me to a T. Changing the narrative, by allowing myself to say, “Maybe that’s not true, gives just enough wiggle room to be myself. Your thoughts today remind me of the saying, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what people think of you if you realized how seldom they actually do.” Thank you, and God Bless!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is a helpful quote to hold onto. Thanks for including it in your comment. Recovering from trauma seems to be a life long process. especially when it comes to our self-esteem. Blessings on your day, as well, David 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Thanks for this reaffirming post. Understanding the root cause of the abuse I experienced — that the abusers in my life had problems that played out on me — was helpful in understanding the root cause of why I felt so poorly about myself. It does seem to be a lifelong process to recast those memories and redefine who I am. I am fortunate that I had excellent therapists who guided me through this process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really appreciate this comment CGT. It takes such a long time, and so much hard work, to chip away at the toxic belief that there is something wrong with us. It’s distressing how we can know in our head that the abuse was not our fault at all, and yet we FEEL it’s a reflection on us. The roots of that false belief go down so deep!! I’m glad you’ve had some good therapists, and keep working on it. Thanks again 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Had this three nights ago. My brother got very, very down about the way he had mentally framed a child support payment. Once I talked him through it, he thanked me the next day for reframing it for him. Perspective is everything 👍💛

    Liked by 2 people

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