Is the picture or story that you have of yourself helpful to you? Is it the story you want to tell? How can you let go of the negative stories and rewrite your story to be exactly what you want it to be?
In this podcast episode, Kathryn Ely speaks about letting go of your past and rewriting your story to create the future of your dreams.
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In This Podcast
- What happens when you change your story
- How our minds create negative or limiting stories
- Kathryn rewrote her story
- How to rewrite your story
- Thinking “I’m not as good as I used to be”
- The one imperfect action you can take today
What happens when you change your story
- You find your next purpose, your one pursuit outside of others
- You place value on yourself
- You feel a deeper connection and fulfillment in relationships
- You begin to learn and grow again
- You know exactly what you want to be known for in your life
How our minds create negative or limiting stories
From a very young age, we begin to create a story or picture of ourselves from experiences and words. As we have new experiences and hear new words about ourselves, we add them to our story to make sense of this information.
As children, we make things simpler than they are and don’t understand the whole picture so we leave out important information. We are limited in our thinking and our perception, and that limited perspective we have as young children becomes a reality. We begin to look for information that confirms this limited perspective and, therefore, disregard information that’s inconsistent or doesn’t fit with our limited perspective.
Kathryn rewrote her story
I’ve picked up all of the pieces of me that I let fall to the ground and left out of my story along the way so that now, my story is a much more complete, less limiting picture of who I am and how I see myself. Rewriting my story has absolutely changed my life for the better. I no longer see myself through that very limiting lens.
How to rewrite your story
- Think of an experience or words, from someone important to you, that you used to create a limited picture of yourself.
- How has this story limited you? Has it created a very one-dimensional view of yourself?
- How can you see it differently?
- If you look at it from a different perspective, how would it change the picture in the story you have created for yourself? Would you have limited yourself in the same way?
Get a piece of paper and write these down…
- What talents have you been leaving out of your story?
- What passions or curiosity have you been leaving out or have you ignored?
- What do you love to do or love to spend your time thinking about?
- What have you always wanted to know more about?
These are important parts of you, especially moving forward into the future.
- Think about your positive personality traits, what have you been leaving out that has gone unnoticed?
- What achievements have you accomplished along the way that you have minimalized or disregarded? Take a minute and acknowledge what you have accomplished in your life.
- What do others see when they look at you?
- What do people compliment about you that you dismiss?
- Think about how others see you and look at yourself through that lens. Write down what they see.
Use the answers to all of these questions as the focus of your new story. If you focus on the positives that you’ve been leaving out, how can your present and your future be different from your past? How will this change your view of yourself? How will this change how you show up in the world? How will this change how you show up in your relationships?
Thinking “I’m not as good as I used to be”
Think about this and add it to your page:
- What is better about you now than it ever was when you were younger?
- What can be better about you going into the future as you let go of this limiting story of yourself?
- How can adding these wonderful, positive things that you’ve been leaving out change your story?
Take all of these wonderful things about you and add them to your next chapter, and let this be the lens through which you see yourself and your future.
The one imperfect action you can take today
Write down your skills, your talents, your traits, all of the good things that you have been leaving out of your story, and add them back in. Write what you want your story to be about from here on out. Realize that you have the choice. You have the power to create the future that you want, and when you do that, pat yourself on the back, celebrate the fact that you have taken a positive step toward the life that you want.
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Meet Kathryn Ely
I’m Kathryn Ely and at age 50, I’m enjoying my very best life. I spent years as a lawyer and then stay-at-home mom helping others go out into the world and live their best lives. While this was very important to me, I did not realize that I was losing myself in the process. I followed all of the “shoulds” like “women should always care for others” and “taking time for yourself is just selfish”.
As two of my children were getting ready to go out into the world I realized I was lost, without my next purpose, and it was scary. So I went back to school and over the course of several years, I not only found myself, but I designed the formula for women in midlife to achieve their most fulfilling lives. It is my mission to equip as many women as possible with this design and the tools to make this chapter of their lives the best chapter.
Thanks for listening!
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Imperfect Thriving is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive, imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom Podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
[KATHRYN]: There are so many ways to keep your practice organized, but TherapyNotes is the best. Their easy-to-use, secure platform lets you not only do your billing, scheduling and progress notes, but also create a client portal to share documents and request signatures. Plus, they offer amazing, unlimited phone support. So, when you have a question, you can get help fast. To get started with the practice management software trusted by over 35,000 professionals, go to therapynotes.com and start a free trial today. If you enter promo code JOE, they will give you two months to try it out for free. Have you joined the Imperfect Thriving Facebook group yet? Well, if you haven’t, why not? Let me tell you what we enjoyed recently: so, I had an Imperfect Thriving Summit and it was 10 speakers sharing their expertise in so many different areas of life and this was free for everyone in our Facebook group. We had speakers about how to reconnect in your intimate love relationship, how to start a budget, how to strengthen your faith, how to decorate your home and enjoy your home more. We had speakers on how to book travel and create itineraries, speakers just that could help you in every area of your life and it was all free. So, if you haven’t joined already, go to Facebook and join the Imperfect Thriving Facebook group. We have so many more fun events planned for the future.
This is the Imperfect Thriving podcast and I’m your host, Kathryn Ely. I’m so glad that you’re here with me today and I’m so excited about today’s podcast. This episode is filled with so much hope and promise that I can’t wait to jump in. So, let me ask you this: Is the picture or story that you have for yourself helpful to you? Is it the story that you want to tell? In today’s episode, I will explain how we come up with our negative or limiting stories that we have about ourselves, how to let go of these negative stories and rewrite your own story exactly how you want it to be. How incredible is that? Now, you might be thinking, Kathryn, I can’t change the past. And you’re right, you can’t change the events of the past. But what you can change is how you look at them and that will make all the difference in the world. But before we jump into today’s episode, if you enjoy this episode, please take a second to rate, review and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Now, let’s jump in.
Today we are going to create your new story and if you follow me on Instagram, you know I love a good quote. And if you’re not following me on Instagram, why not? Go ahead and follow me at Imperfect Thriving on Instagram to see all of the quotes that I post. But anyway, if you are following me, you know I love a good quote. And it was Jack Kerouac, the great American novelist who wrote, “I saw my life was a vast, glowing, empty page and I could write anything I wanted”. That is so beautiful I want to share it with you again: “I saw my life was a vast, glowing, empty page and I could write anything I wanted”. Do you believe this to be true? Or is your mind already giving you the reasons why this can’t be so? I believe it 100%. I’ve seen it time and time again. I’ve seen so many clients who came to me for coaching or counseling, who had absolutely no idea what they were going to do when their children went off to college. Clients who had been taking care of children and taking care of parents. And now, they had time on their hands and absolutely no idea what direction to head in, or what to do with their time. They were lost, needing purpose, needing connection with others. And a big part of why these clients were lost or stuck was because of the stories they had created for themselves. Now, when these clients changed their stories, they were able to find their next purpose, their one pursuit outside of others. They began placing more value on themselves. They found deeper connection and fulfillment in their relationships. They began learning and growing again. And they knew exactly what they wanted to be known for in their lives and began taking the daily imperfect action toward what they wanted their lives to look like. They uncovered their negative self-talk and believed that they could rewrite their stories on the vast, glowing, empty pages, and they did it.
So, let’s do this for you. Let’s let go of the past that’s been holding you back and create a new story, the story of your dreams, the story that gets you to your best life in your best future. But first, let me explain a little bit about how our minds create these negative or limiting stories that we have for ourselves. From a very young age, we begin to take experiences and words and begin to create a story or a picture of ourselves. And as we have new experiences, and hear other words about ourselves, we take them and add them to our current story to make sense of this new information. So, as young children, of course, we make things simpler than they really are. We don’t understand the whole picture, so we leave out important information. We’re limited in our thinking and our perception. We’re not able to think yet in the abstract or look at situations from anyone else’s point of view, only from our very limited perspective. And that limited perspective that we have as a young child becomes our reality. Our perspectives become the lenses through which we see the world, the way we create meaning of the different experiences that we have and the words that we hear. We begin to then look for information that confirms this limited perspective or point of view that we already have and we begin to disregard or leave out information that’s inconsistent, or doesn’t fit in with our limited point of view.
So, let me give you an example of this from my own life. I have a younger sister, she’s two years younger, and I had a picture from a very young age of who my sister was, and who I was. This picture came from things that people said and bits and pieces, or experiences, that I had along the way, but mainly from one thing I heard my father say when I was a young child. And that was she (meaning my sister) is the outgoing one and you (meaning me) are the nerdy one like me. One statement, two sentences, okay? But mainly from these two sentences I created a picture or a perspective out of myself and my sister. The picture was that my sister was pretty, outgoing, had lots of personality, everyone liked her. And the picture I formed of myself was that I was smart, nerdy and introverted, and that I wasn’t nearly as likable, and I didn’t have nearly as much personality as my sister did. Now both of these pictures were greatly simplified, and not accurate, but this is how I began to see things in my life. Because of this belief, and the words that I told myself, this picture became my reality. It became the lens through which I saw myself. I saw my sister, and I saw my world. And I created this story when I was very young but over the years, I collected more and more information that confirmed my picture or my story – confirmed that it was accurate. I let information that conflicted with this picture drop away or fall away and not become a part of my picture, never to be heard from again. There was so much information along the way that I did have a more outgoing personality, that some people did like me if I let them see who I was, if I could be my outgoing self, but I believed my picture. I believed my story. I believed it was true. And this is the lens or the perspective through which I saw myself until about age 48 when I rewrote my story. The thing is, we have the power to idealize or villainize the characters in our story. I wouldn’t say I’ve villainized my father for that one comment, but I will say I gave that comment way more power over shaping my future than it deserved. It was one comment in thousands, but it was the one I really hung my hat on. It was the one that I used as the basis for the picture that I created for myself.
Now, let me share another story with you. This story is about Sam. Sam was 11 years old when his parents divorced. His father fell into a deep depression after the divorce, and ultimately became a drug addict. And as Sam grew into a teenager, he suffered from a lot of emotional pain, confusion, and made a lot of mistakes along the way. Sam’s meaning that he created from his parents’ divorce and his father’s subsequent problems was that his father had failed him, that his father was a bad person and that his father didn’t care about him. That was Sam’s perspective. That was the lens through which he was seeing himself, his father and his world. Now Sam became an adult and his father cleaned up and they reconnected. Sam learned that the divorce shattered his father and that his father felt like his children had abandoned him in his time of greatest need. So, who was right? Was Sam right about what happened after the divorce? Was his father right about what happened after the divorce? Well, they both were right, right? Both of their narratives were true to the people living them at the time. But which story is more helpful to Sam? If Sam sees his story from his father’s perspective, he’s able to see that his father loved him so much that their separation caused him much difficulty and that he didn’t cope well with it. This story allows Sam to have a positive relationship with one of the most important people in his life and, more importantly, see himself in a positive light. Instead of someone who was abandoned or not loved, Sam gets to see himself as loved and wanted. How would this point of view help Sam?
Now, I have rewritten my story. I’ve picked up all of the pieces of me that I let fall to the ground and left out of my story along the way. So that now my story is a much more complete, less limiting picture of who I am and how I see myself. Rewriting my story has absolutely changed my life for the better. I no longer see myself through that very limiting lens. And I want this for you. I want you to let go of the negative or limiting lens that you have used to see your whole life in your story.
So, let’s get started now with rewriting your story. A more complete story of who you are. Step one: Think about an experience or words, from someone important to you, that you use to create a very limited picture of yourself. Think back to your childhood. Was there one thing or a couple of things that happened? Or a couple of things that were said to you that helped you form the picture of yourself or the story in your mind through which you have seen yourself for your whole life?
Now step two: How has the story limited you? Has it created a very one-dimensional view of yourself? Now, let’s look at what is your current view of that experience or those words? Is it very limiting? Is it one dimensional, like I said? Now let’s look at how you can see it differently. What does it look like from another person’s perspective? Could these words have been poorly chosen? Could they have been meant as a joke? They certainly weren’t meant for you to shape your entire life around, right? For instance, I know that my father didn’t mean that I was a nerd and the only thing I had going for me was that I was smart. It was just one comment. I’m sure that he has forgotten this comment and remembered so many other conversations that he’s had with me or so many other words that he meant for me to hear.
Now, if you look at this experience or these words, and take something different away from it, how would that change your life? For example, if I had heard only, Katherine, you are smart. If that was all I took away from that conversation and nothing else, how would that have changed the picture in the story that I created for myself? Would I have limited myself in the same way?
Now, I want you to pause this podcast and if you’re able to go get a piece of paper. Now if you’re exercising or driving, just do it when you get home, no big deal. But if you’re at home, and you’re able to, pause the podcast and go get out a piece of paper. How has your current view shaped your life? What positive information have you left out of your story because of the story or picture that you have created? If you weren’t selectively noticing only the things that confirmed your story, what would you have noticed? This is where the piece of paper comes in. I want you to think about what skills you have that have been left out of your story. And take a moment to think about those skills and write them down on your piece of paper. And when you get finished with writing about your skills, I want you to think about what talents you have that have been left out of your story. Think back to when you were a child, all the way until now. What talents have you been leaving out of your story? When you finish writing about your talents, I want you to ask yourself, what passions or curiosities fuel you that you have been leaving out or that you have ignored? What do you love to do or love to spend your time thinking about? What have you always wanted to know more about? Write these things down. These are important parts of you, especially moving forward into the future. When you’re finished with that, think about the positive personality traits you have. What parts of you are distinctive, important, unique, that you’ve been leaving out, that have gone unnoticed? Write those down too. And here’s the big one: What achievements have you accomplished along the way that you have minimalized or disregarded because they didn’t fit into the negative picture that you had of yourself? What have you discounted and ignored about your achievements? Write those down too. Take a minute and acknowledge what you have accomplished in your life. And when you’re finished with that, I want you to think about what do others see when they look at you? What do your friends or your family compliment about you that you dismiss? Or you act like oh, well, anyone can do that. Think about how others see you and look at yourself through that lens for just a moment and write down what they see.
Now, use the answers to all of these questions as the focus for your new story. The new, more complete picture of yourself. If you focus on these positives that you’ve been leaving out versus the negative limiting view of yourself, how can your present and your future be different from your past? If you see all of these great traits, skills and talents about yourself, how will this change your view of yourself? How will this change how you show up in the world? How will this change how you show up in your relationships? Now, let’s take this one step further and also apply this to the point of view or way you are looking at yourself now and look at yourself in the future. How often do you think to yourself, I’m not as good as I used to be? Right? We’re all getting older. We’re changing We’re aging. And it’s really easy to have a negative view of aging, especially with the way our society looks at and celebrates youth, right? Every other commercial on the TV is what cream can we buy to look younger, therefore telling us we must look younger, younger is better. But that’s not true. Is it helpful to us to think that we’re not as good as we used to be? No, that’s limiting our future every bit as much as our stories have limited us, our limiting stories from the past are limiting us.
So instead of letting negative talk about aging, and about how we’re not as good as we used to be, instead of that holding us back currently and holding us back in the future, let’s explore what’s actually better about us than when we were younger. When I was younger, I didn’t know what I know now. When I was younger, I didn’t have all of the experiences that I have now that I’ve learned from and grown from. When I was younger, I was insecure and anxious, driven by what I thought I should do, not about what’s important to me, and what I want in my life. And when I was younger, I really didn’t know what I wanted in life, what was most important to me. So, I want you to think about and add to your blank page, what is better about you now than it ever was when you were younger? What can be better about you going into the future as you let go of this limiting story of yourself and add in all the wonderful things that you’ve been leaving out, adding these positive things to your vast, glowing, empty page. I bet there are so many things that are better about you now and will be better each day. Take all of these wonderful things about you and add them to your next chapter. The next chapter in the book of You and let this be the lens through which you see yourself and your future.
I am so glad that you’ve taken the time to join me today for this episode. And now that you know how our minds come up with these negative stories about ourselves, and that they are inaccurate, incomplete, and just plain wrong, you’ve now also learned how to rewrite your story to include all of the wonderful parts that you’ve been leaving out over the years. So, the one imperfect action I encourage you to do today is write down your skills, your talents, your traits, all of the good things that you have been leaving out of your story and add them back in. Write what you want your story to be about from here on out. Realize that you have the choice, you have the power to create the future that you want. And when you do that, pat yourself on the back. Celebrate the fact that you have taken a positive step toward the life that you want. And until I see you back here next week, go out and take daily imperfect action.
If you love this podcast, will you rate and review it on iTunes or your favorite podcast player? Also, I have a free, nine-part, blueprint to thrive email course. It’s a step-by-step guide to find out what you want your life to look like, exactly what’s holding you back and how to get to that life you want. Head on over to www.imperfectthriving.com/course to get the course today.
This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice or guests are providing legal, mental health or other professional information. If you need a professional, I encourage you to reach out to one.