We all tell stories, regardless of why type of job or career we choose to have. Stories are what make the world go round. As a writer, I know the importance of a good story – they can be educational or relaxing, entertaining or warning. Stories about our past can help inspire others, whilst stories of dragons and fairies can ensure our children effortlessly drift off to sleep.

However, there are other types of story too.  There are the little white lies we tell ourselves and others. We’re not always sure if we’re protecting ourselves or the other person, be we feel the need to protect something or someone, with this little stories. And then there are the stories we tell ourselves – about our personalities, our lives and our thoughts. These stories aren’t always for our benefit. We don’t always consciously hear them and we don’t always know that we’re listening to them.

What stories do to us

Stories have the ability to inspire us, educate us and move us forward, but they can also scare us, unsettle us. Sometimes, we use stories to actually keep us stuck and, what often makes this really sad is, we’re most likely to use these stories on ourselves!

When we are doing something different or trying something new, we’re treading in unfamiliar territory. Our belief structures kick in and tell us if it’s something we should fear or embrace – by tweaking our emotions. The inner voice then kicks in and whispers statements to us, based on our previous experiences and life stories. Statements such as “this isn’t safe for you – turn back” or “you won’t ever be able to do this – so don’t”. Your story is telling you what IT thinks is safe for YOU.

What stories are you saying?

Whether it comes to writing your story, starting your own business, trying out a new hairstyle or talking to a stranger, these whispering voices tend to dictate what our reaction will be. Do you pick up the pen and write… or do something else instead? Is that new hairstyle worth trying… or is it not going to suit you or make you more attractive anyway? Do you make that first move… or miss the chance of connecting with you possible future soulmate?

We buy into these stories to keep us feeling safe. The problem is, our body responds, in the same way, to fear as it does excitement – but that is also great news!

Think about that statement for a minute.

Think about how you react to fear and then think about how you react when you’re excited. Your heart rate increases, your pulse quickens, as does your breathing and you focus more intently on the subject at hand – whilst everything around you disappears from your focus. They’re both the same reaction! So you can actually reprogram yourself to react to fear differently, by reminding yourself of this fact the next time you are feeling scared or fearful. It’s about changing the story that you run through your head when you face a new or difficult situation.

Are you running your life?

We all have two options. We can choose to listen to the existing stories that are going around our head. We can keep repeating them and not change or move forward, as a result. Or, we can decide to change them for more inspiring and helpful ones. We can reprogram our minds to believe that fear is, in fact, excitement.

A story really is just a story. It’s something we tell ourselves and others. So what story are you telling yourself? Is it one that will help you move forward? Or is it one that will keep you ‘safe’, even if that’s not what you really want and even if there’s no danger in the first place? Are you letting your story run your life… or are you running your own life?

Stories play a powerful role in our lives – both in a good and bad way. The key is to hear what stories we’re telling ourselves – and to listen long enough to decide if they’re helping or hindering us. It’s only by actively listening, that we can then make the choice to keep with the original story or change it for something more entertaining and useful.