This is the second installment of a three-part series based on the stories we tell ourselves and how they affect the results we achieve in life.
As we explored in the first of the series, the human brain becomes habituated. It learns by engaging the nervous system, the memory system and the sensory system and repetition of patterns over time makes something seem ‘normal’.
So, to rewrite a story that's habituated, you need to first identify the patterns, interrupt them and undo how they have been wired in a particular way. Essentially this means releasing it before replacing the old story with a new one.
As we're looking at how to release the old story, it might be useful to reflect on your current story. What is the story you’ve been telling yourself? (You can read more on this in the first part of the series.)
Listen to the podcast here or continue reading below.
‘Listen’ to your posture
Taking time to reflect on your story and inner self talk enables you to recognise how you might be negatively impacting your decisions in everyday life, both personal and business.
An easy way to identify your story is by taking notice of your emotions, your posture and your breathing. Are you experiencing anxiety with shallow breathing or tense posture? Or rigidness and a defeated state, etc.?
Ask yourself without judgement, "Where is my posture in relation to me and my business world and in my life?" You'll find that your posture is supported by a way of thinking or belief about yourself and the world.
A lot of business owners find themselves in a state of anxiety on a regular basis. If you’re one of them, it gives you an indication of where your attention is going and how you're interacting with your team and with your business. It’s likely in a more reactive way, rather than taking a proactive approach.
If you find that you’re reactive in your work, especially when things get a little challenging, the role you’re playing in your story is dramatic since you likely tell yourself things don’t work out easily.
As we all know, it’s not easy to make effective decisions when you’re in a reactive state. The reactive state is connected to the way you are viewing the story or the genre, so often, in a reactive state, you are getting away from the ‘villain’. The villain could be anything from money struggles, or a rocky business partnership.
If that’s the way your emotions, posture and inner self talk are reacting, the brain will engage in that story; the villain will always be sneaking around in the back of your brain.
Instead of being reactive, think proactively. Ask yourself, “What do I really want to achieve? What could be the main alternatives that would help me achieve this? What are the likely effects over time of achieving this? What are the pros and cons? What are the potential risks and how do I mitigate those risks? You can then begin to release your old story to make for a new one and make clear choices on how you engage with your business and life.
Writing a new story
To disconnect from the old story requires you to interact with the being or the identity of the new story. When you connect to your new story, you’ll actually look at what you’re doing instead of just doing.
So, in your new story think about what your state is as a leader and then connect that with the new genre and what you actually want your new story to say about you.
You might recognise your old story behaviour as being negative. Instead of thinking, “Thank God it’s Friday”, or “Oh God, I’ve got to got to go to work again”, you can think more positively about what you can accomplish and the benefits of this.
As you think about your business and the work you have to do, start to notice where your feelings go when you think about money, your team, your sales and growth, et cetera.
It’s funny. You might think, “Oh, my god. How am I going to pay the tax bill?”, or you could look at it from a different angle, "Well, the tax bill is a lot bigger this year, which means we've made a lot more money.”
Depending how you engage in and think about the business will tell you what needs changing in your story.
Be productive and supportive
From there you can start to focus your attention on where you realise you need it to be, and can begin to put strategies in place that will eliminate the stress and allow you to reach your end point.
While you are noticing these things, it can be useful to take note of when your thoughts, self talk and posture are not productive or supporting you in achieving your goals. Then imagine you could select it and delete it.
There are a number of powerful tools, skills and resources that we use to help our clients do this. Releasing your limiting decisions and stories that have been taken onboard and are now habits will enable you to take the time to select and choose the most useful decision and strategy in each moment. Whatever's been decided in the past can be cleaned up and new options presented.
Mentors can really help walk you through your story, your patterns and habits, and learn how to let go of what isn’t helping you achieve business success.
What you can do yourself is take the time to notice these things, and understand them. You’ll likely know when you’re not being useful as a leader, so notice those not-so-useful behaviours and moods and write them down. It can also be useful to actually ask your team, “What do you think I do well?” “What could I improve that would make our business better?”
We encourage you to go away and take notice of your patterns, behaviour and moods and ask yourself, “Will they get me to where I really want to go?”
Rather than being judgmental when you take note of these things, tell yourself, "I'm moving into a time in my life where I'm going to release and let go of the strategy of any dysfunctional story.” That way you can amplify your more useful strategies and add to them to take the place of the ineffective ones over time.
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To disconnect from the old story requires you to interact with the being or the identity of the character of the new success story. When you connect to your new story, you’ll actually look at what you’re doing instead of just, doing.