Using Narratives to Change Your Life.
The other day I came across a you tube video of a physicist, criticizing a hover board invention. His claim was that the invention was a hoax. While the invention in of itself was very real, looking at their kick-starter page, I felt their presentation was significantly misleading. Meaning that the hover board itself was only regulated to a special surface, versus the board being able to hover over any surface. Regardless, I also did feel that the physicist was very limiting in his critic of the project, in that it appeared that the overall theme of his critic seemed to suggest that the ambition of making a hover board to hover over any surface was not possible – I could be wrong about this.
This got me thinking about people I know and work with who operate on limiting beliefs, specifically in regards to what they can not do. Conversations geared towards problem solving with such persons can be frustrating, as their overall message is based on how their acquired knowledge and skills have lead to the conclusions of certain impossibilities. While these arguments are usually based on logic, one has to wonder, what happens if we were to focus more on using acquired knowledge and skill sets towards attaining certain possibilities?
I have written about using narratives to change your life before, and it was soundly rejected. I will chalk it up to me making a poor argument and I am now prepared to take another go at it. Let’s say you wanted to lose some unwanted weight, you purchase a scale, purchase a gym membership and consult with a nutritionist.
A protocol is established regarding your exercise regimen and your daily diet, however there lies one fundamental problem, you keep cheating on your diet. Then it stands to reason that you have developed a habitual behavioral response pattern to being triggered for various types of food, specifically types of food that you and your nutritionist have determined to be unhealthy for you.
Using the narratives technique, once you identify what your trigger is for cheating on your agreed upon diet, you construct a narrative where you are successful in overcoming your urge in engaging in poor habitual behaviors. It need not be long winded, and in most cases a simple paragraph would do, such as passing up on the urge to drink sugary drinks. If in real life passing up on the urge to drink sugary drinks like soda seems much for you, then in your narrative you detail what types of feelings, specifically negative feelings you will be forced to deal with if you passed up on a sugary drink during say.. lunch time.
Once the feeling or feelings have been identified then you construct a narrative on how you will go about making peace with these negative feelings without resorting to consuming any sugary drinks or any other substitutive that can alter your consciousness in the same way a sugary drink can. Such a narrative is focused upon the possibilities of overcoming one’s addiction to sugary drinks towards the eventual goal of losing unwanted weight. When people who have a habit of thinking within limitations, approach such a goal, they tend to focus of what’s not working while still engaging in the behavior that continues to produce the unwanted weight for themselves.
My attitude is to take the approach of leaving no stone unturned. Rather than focus on what’s not working, focus on the eventual goal. If the goal in of itself is possible to achieve, then it stands to reason that there lies many paths you can take towards achieving that goal.
Goals are like destinations, no matter where you are in the world, if you pick a destination of choice, there are multiple paths that lead towards that destination, and multiple paths that don’t.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and professional life coach.
Recently I was speaking with a client of mine who expressed feeling handicapped with her feelings of fear. She is in the process of leaving a corporate job she works for, with plans to open up a small retail business. She reported being terrified of failing at her small business, more specifically she was frightened about what others would think about her if she was not successful with her business. Then she asked for suggestions about what to do about her fear.
I responded by asking her why she was leaving her corporate job, and after a few minutes of pondering, she stated that she feared spending the best years of her life working for a company that she disliked, in a position she found utterly miserable. She further stated that she feared becoming an older woman like some of her coworkers, having given the best years of her life to a company with very little to show for her years of hard work.
I then asked her which of the two fears she had identified, she feared the most. The one where she fails at her business and gets looked down upon by her family and friends, or the other where she gives away her youthful energy to her employer and matures into an older woman with having accomplished very little in her career.
Without hesitation she stated that remaining stuck with her employer was her biggest fear. I then informed her to use this fear as her fuel for motivation. So every time she finds herself fearing possible failure in her business, she considers the alternative, which is to remain with her employer. The idea is that she would be so motivated to not find herself in that predicament, that coping with her fear of failing at her business would become relatively easier.
This was part one for how to deal with fear. The second part is to practice positive thinking. We attract what we think, so instead of worrying about how her business could fail, I asked her to focus on how her business could succeed. In doing so she would pay more attention to how people in her niche have succeeded with their businesses, and incorporate their strategies for success into hers. This would then increase the likelihood of her business succeeding, thus leading to a positive self fulfilling prophecy.
While on the topic of positive thinking, you should really get a copy of Pam Grout’s E-Squared. The title is a play on Einstein’s theory of relativity and features nine do it yourself experiments that prove your thoughts really do create your reality.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.