Change your story — change your mind

By Ann Gomez
May 27, 2024
Photo credit: Makhbubakhon Ismatova/iStock/Getty Images

If you chronically describe yourself as “too busy,” consider how you might change your story to make yourself feel better — and get more done….

Do you have a standard reply when someone asks you, “What’s going on?” or “What’s new?”

Mine used to be, “Busy.” So busy. Always busy!

This was an easy identity to assume with a growing business, a large family (including four kids, each with their own host of activities), and other assorted life commitments.

But I’ve since stopped telling the busy story.

After all, between family, work, friends, and self-care, I can’t think of anything I would drop. Well, maybe I’d drop my taxes if I had a choice. But let’s not split hairs. I have a very full life. And I have the power to change anything I dislike; anything within my control, of course. (So much for the taxes).

But there’s an even more compelling reason for me to drop my busy story.

The stories we tell ourselves are powerful. They affect how we shape and perceive reality. Our thoughts form our feelings, and our feelings transform into the words we choose. Our words influence our actions — and those actions produce our results.

The stories we tell ourselves are the most important stories we will ever hear.

As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

We know our brains adapt to new circumstances every day. And Neuroplasticity research shows we’re able to learn practically anything when we commit to sustained, deliberate practice. Keeping our thoughts positive only serves to streamline this process for our brains and helps us feel better about ourselves.

In her memoir Becoming, Michelle Obama recounts a story about a remarkable Chicago school principal, whom she says recognized, “Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated…by fear.”

It pains me to hear children (or adults, for that matter) say they can’t do something. This is a self-fulfilling limitation. As Carol Dweck, best-selling author of Mindset advises, simply adding “yet” can change this sentence. “I can’t do this, yet” offers a much more optimistic approach.

What stories are you telling yourself? How can you re-frame these stories to create a more successful outcome?

Do you ever say, “I’m nervous” before a big presentation? If so, try mimicking the mindset of professional athletes. High-performance athletes recognize the feelings we get when we’re excited are the same as the ones we have when we’re nervous. Researchers have repeatedly found when experimental subjects are encouraged to reinterpret nervousness as excitement, they perform better. “I’m excited” sounds like a much more empowering story.

Do you ever say, “I’m stressed” during crunch periods? If so, try focusing on how much you’re learning. “I’m grateful for this challenge” suddenly makes the situation feel more manageable and attainable; an opportunity to help you grow and master a new skill. This can make a big difference in our performance.

Do you ever say, “I’m tired”? If so, remind yourself of your deep energy reserves. Consider what would happen if you changed your story to, “I have enough energy for everything that needs to get done today.”

The stories we tell ourselves have a profound impact on who we are. Consider the power of the thoughts and the words you use. If you’re not happy with the plot line, change your narrative. You have it in you to create your own happy ending.

For more strategies you can use to set yourself up for success, see Ann’s latest book, Workday Warrior: A Proven Path to Reclaiming Your Time, published by Dundurn Press, 2022. For more articles by Ann, please visit the Clear Concept website

Ann Gomez is the founder and president of Clear Concept Inc, a global training organization. Ann has trained some of the world’s busiest people, helping them reclaim their time and empowering them to do their best work. She is also a speaker and a USA Today bestselling author. 

Originally published by Publication Coach.

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