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Change your Worst Stories, Feel Better, & Find a Brighter Tomorrow in One Fell Swoop

Last week I wrote about how our stories determine our futures, and how we can tell the difference between the facts of what happened to us and the stories we’re making them mean, ie the stories we’re telling ourselves about them.

A smiling woman in a snowy forest

You can read that blog here:

But this week I want to explore more of how you change your story. Why? Because changing your story is what gives you the power to change your future, and stop repeating the past.

The ability to retell your story about the facts that have happened to you, is pretty much everything. Master this, and the world is your oyster. No lie.

So how do we do it? Science gives us a big clue. Our stories, after all, live in our minds and our past stories live within that thing we call our memories. Interestingly, memories are something that science has studied and they've come to a rather unexpected conclusion.

Our memories aren’t concrete. They are fluid, and much more naturally malleable than we had previously thought. In fact remembering the past, retrieving a memory changes it. It’s kind of like that game Telephone so many of us played as kids.

You know game where you whisper a phrase or sentence from one kid to the next, over and over, until you come to the end, the last kid, and find that the phrase has changed so much it’s become unrecognizable.

Much like that, we alter our memories each time we re-remember them, changing them in small imperceptible ways to better fit our personal narrative, whether good or bad.

In fact, according to Donna Bridge, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead author of the paper on the study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience:

“Your memory of an event can grow less precise even to the point of being totally false with each retrieval."

"Memories aren’t static," she notes, "If you remember something in the context of a new environment and time, or if you are even in a different mood, your memories might integrate the new information.”

Our stories, aka memories, change as we change. And that’s good news because it means we can purposefully altar them to suit the new meanings we want to give them.

When we alter our stories of the past, we alter the maps we live our lives by, the patterns we recognize and subconsciously end up living by. We give ourselves new destinations to head towards.

As I mentioned in the previous blog, you can’t change the facts. You can’t change that you’re divorced or single, that you aren’t at your goal weight or that you haven’t hit that financial goal you’ve been heading towards. You can't change a bankruptcy.

But you can change the story you have around those events.

If your story around one of those facts is that is makes you a failure, a loser, a victim, or hopeless, that’s something you can change. You can continue to tell a story about the facts that tells you and the world that you’re broken, or you can a tell a story that you’re prevailing and succeeding despite what happened to you.

You may not have made it yet, but you’re on your way to it. Now that’s a better story. Here’s how to start the process (and it is a process):

1. Pick a story. Write it down.

How does this story make you feel? Angry. Sad. Despondent. Hopeless. Etc.

When you feel that way, what actions are you motivated to take, or to not take?

For instance, when enraged with another person, do you focus on your future and being happy or on avenging your wrong? Getting even with the jerk that did this to you?

If you feel shame over something, are you willing to go out and try again? To be honest about what happened and what you did? Or do feel like retreating and hiding?

If you feel like a victim and powerless, are you motivated to try again? Or do you feel like it’s beyond what you’re capable of, and therefore, you don't even attempt it.

The trick here, is to see how your story is fueling your feelings, and your feelings are really what motivate you to act or not act.

2. Re-imagine your life without this story.

If anything could happen in this area of your life, in the future. What would you love to happen? What would make you happy and excited again? Would you find the love of your life? Would you pay off your debt, and make six figures at last? Would you start your own family?

What emotions does that new future bring up in you? Hope? Love? Passion? Excitement?

And what actions might the person with that story in their past be motivated to take in their life?

For instance, If someone didn’t have abandonment in their history, if instead they had memories of a happy family that brought joy, what actions in dating and connecting, in making their own family might they be taking?

They might be dating more than you, and with more hope and joy. They might not take rejection as personally as you. They might be more buoyant even when it doesn't work out with one person.

If someone didn’t have a story of bankruptcy, if instead they had many experiences of making money and felt confident and joyful around it, what actions would they be taking in their life with their finances?

They might be excited to look at their bank accounts and savings because they can see it growing. They might be fearless at looking at their credit cards, seeing what’s due and knowing they can pay it.

Again, notice how your stories fuel your feelings, and your feelings then fuel the action you take.

3. Shift your personal story around the facts, tiny bit by tiny bit over time.

A big key to being successful in this is picking your moment. Pick a moment when you feel good. Trying to do this after a bad day, when tired, when pessimistic, etc is a very bad idea. Pick a better moment, remember our mood can affect the way we tell our stories.

Now, given the facts, divorce, bankruptcy, not hitting that goal, etc. How can we begin to gently tell the story different?

You’re not going to be successful in changing the story all at once, into something better. Our minds just don’t shift that quickly. Your story and memories can only be shifted little by little over time. So start with a tiny shift.

Instead of “I’m a financial failure because of my bankruptcy.” Switch it to:

“I’m someone who’s had a bankruptcy. Lots of people have had one. I’m not alone.”

“I’m just have a story about being a financial failure because of a bankruptcy. That’s all. It’s just a story.”

Start with the smallest shift you can believe. Even this subtle shift gets you more space and detachment around the story. It primes the way for you to start to make an even better story.

Once you find that this new story feels natural, shift it again. Go from “I’m just someone with the story that she’s incapable of love because she’s divorced.” to:

“I’m divorced, and I haven’t found love yet. But it's not all said and done.” Or even, “Maybe I don’t yet believe I can find love at my age, but I know there are some women who have. Maybe I don't believe I can do it, but other women can do it."

As that gets natural then go to something like:

“I could find love, its possible. Maybe it’s improbable, maybe it’s not, but it’s not impossible. It could happen. I don’t know everything.”

Then as that gets more comfortable shift it again:

“Why not me? I mean if some women find love at my age. Why not me? Why not believe I will find love?”

Keep doing this until you slowly get to:

"I know I can find love. I know I will find love."

"My experiences in the past are going to make me stronger."

"I'm on my way to debt-free."

"Six figures is mine. It's not if, it's when."

Don't stop until you get to the better story. Just keep going.

4. Be prepared for pushback.

A lot of times our stories, even our worst ones, -- the ones that continue to harm and pain us, are actually protective. We adopted them because they shield us from the possibility of ever getting hurt again, by stopping us in our tracks.

You can’t be abandoned again, if you don’t believe you’ll ever find love, and thus never, ever look for it (or fall for it) again.

You’ll never fail or be disappointed, if you stop trying to get out of debt or save money all together, and believing you just don't have it in you and the bankruptcy proves it, does that quite nicely for you.

Just be aware, you may revert back to an old story as a pushback to a change that can feel very scary to our brains. Expect it (especially whenever you get tired or stressed) and just go back to a previous thought shift that’s a little easier to believe for awhile.

Remember, be willing to let it take time, be willing to go slow, and be gentle. That's environment that learning and growth thrives in.

And if you’re interested in reading the full article on memory you can find it here:

And if you happen to need someone to help you re-tell that story, that is what I’m here for! I know what it’s like to feel stuck in an old story, and I know how working with a life coach, and getting outside eyes on a problem can be life-changing! You’re worth the change!

If you'd like more information contact me at : or use messenger here on Facebook or Instagram to find out how to work with me! I love helping people just like you!

And with that, I’m off! I will see you all next week in the meantime here are some other articles you might enjoy:

As always, make sure to hit that like button, and sign up for blog so you never miss another post about being happy, and pursuing your dreams!



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