A Story Making Machine
Your brain is busy. And when I say busy, I mean busy. It has to process visual images coming in from your eyes, auditory messages coming into your ears, and physical sensations through touch. Then it has to attach meaning to everything and organize all that information in a way that makes sense. THAT'S what those billions of neurons are doing up in your head. They are not only firing away making meaning, but they're organizing all the stimuli, creating stories in your head for comprehension and understanding. Your brain is a story making machine! And those stories make you who you are.
The Importance of Core Values in Your Stories
Your core values, as you have read about in the two posts here and here are the guiding principals of who you are and all your stories. Remember that time when Joey said you were ugly in the playground, back in 3rd grade? Or the time when Sally said she didn't want to be your best friend in 6th grade? Those memories and stories that you replay back to yourself hit you at the core. They affected the way you decide to dress, how you behave and more importantly what you think of yourself. So, why would you continue to replay those stories in your head if they make you feel bad or insecure? It's important to make peace with all your stories. To look at them from the eyes of who are you now and who you want to be.
Change The Story in Your Brain
I will never forget the day in middle school, when I was told I would never succeed because I was blonde. Yup. I know, something that shouldn't have bothered me and something I should've just let go, but it came from someone I THOUGHT was my friend. I learned a valuable lesson that day. That people can be mean. But what I didn't learn was that when people are mean - it has nothing to do with me - it has everything to do with them. Nevertheless, the comment stuck with me and hit me at my core. Because one of my top core values is honesty, I took that comment as truth. And at 13, that hurts. But it wasn't until I 38 when I learned that, my brain doesn't need to hold onto that negative story. It doesn't DEFINE who I am now or who I want to be. I don't HAVE TO associate myself with that story. And so, I think back to that day, I accept it as someone else's opinion and say to myself - that's their story, not mine.
It's that simple
It's that simple! You decide what stories to hold onto. You decide what stories are important. And you decide which stories are yours and why.
Exercise: Find Your Stories and Embrace The Book Of You
It's not difficult to recall the good, funny, feel good stories. They are the ones you tell people all the time and they are the ones that usually align most with your core values. Instead, let your brain do the work for you and rewrite those negative stories into positive ones.
- Write down 3 strong negative memories.
- Look at the first one - which of your core values did it hit? Why did it affect you the way it did? Who did it come from - and is it their story or yours?
- Then let your brain make new story meaning around your memory. Ask yourself, does that story align with who you are today? What's the importance of that story - and why did it affect you so?
- Repeat this process with the other two or more if you're on a roll.
In my example, I understand that maybe I shouldn't have taken the blonde comment so personally but I can see now how it affected my belief in fairness, respect, honesty, and happiness - my core values.
Now - replay your memory back in your mind. See you as a little girl or boy and feel for him/her because that is who you WERE. Make peace with the episode but then let your brain make new meaning around that story so you can accept, embrace, and be proud of who you are today and move forward to who you want to be.