…makes you stronger.
Well, that’s the saying. Whether it’s true or not is really down to us.
Adversity is an inescapable part of life. It’s woven into the fabric of our every day life, testing our resilience and providing the arena in which we can put ourselves out there, get knocked down, and get back up again. What differentiates us is not the presence or absence of challenges, but the stories we tell ourselves about these experiences.
We will all know people who have faced enormous challenges, and will have encountered countless narratives – stories of triumph, despair, success and failure. Each person’s story is as unique as they are, yet there is a common thread that runs through each narrative: the power of perception.
Your story. Your superpower.
Our perceptions are framed by the stories we tell ourselves. These internal narratives can either act as powerful catalysts for growth, or barriers to our success. The story you tell yourself has the power to shape your reality and guide your decisions. In effect you are the architect of your own reality through the stories you shape and filter life events through.
Consider a challenging situation at work. One person might view it as a stressful, insurmountable obstacle, leading them to feel overwhelmed and anxious. Another mights see the same situation as an opportunity for learning and to challenge themselves, stimulating a positive and proactive response. The situation is the same, but the stories they tell themselves, and no doubt the outcomes, are vastly different.
The kicker is, believe it or not, you’re the one in control of that voice in your head. You’re the one telling the story. So how can we consciously shift our narrative and the lens through which we manage challenging situations?
1. Embrace a growth mindset: there’s a big difference between “I can’t do this” and “I can’t do this yet” or “I’m learning to do this”. Embrace the suck on your mission to be bigger, better, stronger.
2. Cultivate resilience: it’s not just about bouncing back, it’s also about growth. Reframing setbacks as opportunities for learning fuels our stories focussed on coming back stronger.
3. Practice Self-Compassion: often we are our harshest critics. When we stumble, the narrative can quickly become one of self-blame and negativity. By talking to ourselves as we would a good friend we can change our narrative to one of kindness and understanding, promoting personal growth and wellbeing.
4. Seek perspective: the narratives we spin are limited by our own personal perspectives. By seeking external viewpoints from people we trust, respect and admire, like a mentor or a coach, we can gain new insights and reframe our stories in a more constructive light.
5. Challenge your thoughts: as much as it may seem like it, our thoughts are not facts. They are coloured by our emotions and past experiences. We can challenge negative thoughts and replace them with more positive ones. Try it on for size – so often we assume someone has negative intent, but realistically 93% of the population are genuinely trying their best. The other 7% are sociopaths and even they’re trying their best most of the time. How much happier and productive might you be if you didn’t feel the world was out to get you?
6. High five yourself: when it hits the fan, take a moment to remind yourself of all the adversity you’ve come through up until this point. I’d wager you’ve got a few scars and plenty of growth to show for your years to date. The strength you build up getting them is what will set you up for success in dealing with this cluster, and the next one, and the next one…you’ve got this.
The stories we tell ourselves have profound implications on our attitudes, behaviours and overall well being. Through actively shaping them, we harness the power to direct our life’s journey towards meaningful growth and success. As we reframe adversity and shift our narratives, we unlock our true potential – doesn’t that sound more powering than hiding under the duvet with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s?
Until next time take care, stay safe and be kind 🙌
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