Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Stories for a New Year

First, I need to note that I'm postponing my Book in a Week class to later in the month. I need to go back east to see my son and can't manage the class at the same time. I'll be posting here when I know for certain when the class will actually start.

Now....about the new year.....

Human beings are storytellers. We tell ourselves stories about our own lives and the people around us all the time. Those stories can help or hinder us depending on how we tell them. In the worst case situation, we're telling ourselves stories that hurt us and never even realize they ARE stories! If we fall into the trap of believing they're truth, we are unlikely to change or rewrite those negative stories into something that will help empower us.

Why am I bringing this up now? I think New Year's Eve and New Year's Day is a good time to stop and ask ourselves what stories we're telling ourselves and ask ourselves which ones we might want to rewrite. If we do, we have far greater chance of making true changes in our lives than by making resolutions we may not believe we can fulfill anyway.

Example: Which seems more likely to work? To tell ourselves we have to stop eating chocolate because it's making us fat or to tell ourselves we're someone who doesn't need chocolate or to eat more than one piece at a time?

I know the power of expectations—and that's what's inherent in telling ourselves stories. If we expect someone to behave badly, studies show they will. If we expect someone to succeed, studies show they are far more likely to do so. What then if we apply those ideas to ourselves? If we're writers, we're used to creating stories, so why not create stories about ourselves that will empower us to achieve our goals?

I don't know about you, but I'm realizing that telling myself I'm stupid about something isn't very likely to make me succeed at whatever it is. On the other hand, I've got a much better shot at it if the story I'm telling myself is that I'm smart and successful and able to see possibilities and figure out ways to do things—even if they are different from how anyone else would do them.

I find myself thinking about all of this now because I will be seeing my son in his new environment, in the group home. I know that it's important to think carefully about what I will tell him about this big change in his life, the story I will help him create for himself. I look at the world, too, which seems in chaos and I know that I have the best chance of weathering the crises if I have a story that tells me that no matter what I will find a way to do so.

As I say often in my workshops: the brain works best when we are relaxed. It literally cannot function as well when we're scared. So...the optimal strategy is to find stories that help us move forward in our lives.

What are the stories you tell yourself that you might want to rewrite as we enter this new year?