You Can and you Must Change your Stories

Ramit’s Sethi's 2018 manifesto on rewriting your story grabbed me by the scruff of my neck, sat me down, and made me listen. Go read it.

I believe that our lives are made up of stories. And I believe there are three kinds of stories that matter:

  • The stories we’re told.
  • The stories we believe.
  • And the stories we change.

It’s a pretty simple idea. Your whole perception of what goes on around you is based on these stories. How you react to things and the way you see others is all based on your stories. Some of the stories are hidden but you can use the mirroring tool I linked to yesterday to help find them.

Ramit points out that your stories don’t have to be hidden to have big unintended consequences. You might suddenly realise that something you’ve always identified with as ‘you’ isn’t true anymore.

Try to imagine you’ve built your entire identity on something, and suddenly, you realize it’s not true. Suddenly Mr. Hot Shit ain’t so hot.

Or maybe, day by day a story you wrongly believe is fucking you. It’s hard to change your stories:

Changing the story you tell yourself is viscerally uncomfortable because it means that (1) you might have to do the very thing you’ve created an identity around not doing, and (2) you might have been wrong about yourself for your entire life. It’s not just hard. It’s psychologically devastating.

But you must be capable of rewriting your stories. Things will always change around you. You will change. They’re just stories.

Ramit shares the three ingredients to “rewriting your story of a Rich Life” in more detail than this at the end of his post. Go read it. I implore you!

Rewriting your story of a Rich Life takes these three ingredients:

What if: Start your story with two words. What if?

You’re the hero: Make yourself the hero of your story by (1) having fun and (2) getting the help of other people around you.

Look to the future: Don’t dwell on the past or just focus on the present.

Use Mirroring to Uncover your Blindspots

Here’s a great tool to check out over on Awaken with JP Sears Premium AF. I can't embed the video for you here, so go check it out on JP's website:

Owning your Truth through Mirroring

I’m not a subscriber to Premium AF (I’ve thought about it, but I’m trying not to add new things to my life at the moment even if they look great), so I’m glad he decided to share this stuff about mirroring.

Understanding yourself and being authentic is really hard. It’s especially hard because you have blind spots as big as trucks all over the place. Things you don’t even realise, stories you tell yourself (they could be positive, negative, or anywhere in between), and patterns you can’t see. It’s okay, we all have this shit.

As a psychological term, mirroring is the behaviour in which one person subconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another. Mirroring often occurs in social situations, particularly in the company of close friends or family. (This definition is from the Wikipedia page for mirroring)

JP Sears presents mirroring as a tool you can use to catch a glimpse of your big-as-a-truck blind spots. By first owning the fact that your perceptions of others are your perceptions and not necessarily reality, you can unpack what those perceptions might say about you. You really have to own your perceptions for this to work. It can feel pretty selfish, but for the sake of this exercise you’re going to assume that it’s 100% about you.

For example, one perception I have of my partner Ashley is that sometimes she spends too much time using social media on her phone. What that says about me is that I’m scared that my decision to spend less time on social media is hurting me somehow and that I’ll end up lonely AF.

Another perception I have of my partner Ashley is that she is generous in giving back to the community by volunteering at Lifeline. What that says about me is that I want to be much more generous in my community and I’m looking for ways I can give back in my own way. Her volunteering also requires an incredible amount of empathy and I’m learning that true empathy without martyrdom is something I’ve got a lot to learn about.

Both of my examples are things I couldn’t really see without looking in the mirror of Ashley first. It’s a powerful tool! JP gives some other examples in the video - I recommend you go watch it!

Here’s a quick recap of the tool:

  1. Look at a person in your life and own your perceptions of them (one thing that challenges you about them and one thing that you like about them).
  2. State the perception you have of them.
  3. State what that perception says about you as though your perception of them is 100% about you. (For the sake of this exercise, we’re assuming that it’s 100% about you!)

If you want to see more tools like this I find around the place, you can sign up below to get my monthly journal where I share my explorations.

When Theories Become Dogma

I’ve been loving Seth Godins blog lately:

We can fall into a few traps with our theories about humans:

  1. We can come to believe that they are ironclad guarantees, not merely our best guess about the future.
  2. We can refuse to understand the mechanics behind a theory and instead accept the word of an authority figure. If we fail to do the math on our own, we lose agency and the ability to develop an even more nuanced understanding of how the world works.
  3. We can become superstitious, ignoring evidence that runs counter to our theory and instead doubling down on random causes and their unrelated effects.
  4. We can hesitate to verbalize our theories, afraid to share them with others, particularly those we deem as higher in authority or status.
  5. We can go to our jobs and do all four of these things at once.