How loud is your inner critic these days? It’s a good question to ask yourself in 2022 to take stock of the beliefs you held in 2021. After all, you don’t want those old narratives holding you back in the new year. Instead, you’ll want to tame the doubtful voice in your head and the stories it tells.
“If we’re not careful, these stories can lead us to a place we don’t want to be, and if we’re intentional, they can lead us to some really great places,” Kindra Hall says.
In this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, Hall talks to SUCCESS People Editor Tristan Ahumada about controlling your personal narrative. As a storytelling expert, Hall knows a thing or two about false narratives, success stories and the gap between the two. Her new book, Choose Your Story, Change Your Life: Silence Your Inner Critic and Rewrite Your Life from the Inside Out, is a manual for crafting your best life.
Ready to reclaim your story? Here’s how to choose your personal narrative.
1. Catch the bad story as soon as it begins.
We don’t have much control over the bad stories in our heads. They stick to our psyche, and removing them is difficult because they’ve been there forever. The mistakes you made 10 years ago and even grade school failures are deep, emotional stories—and they’re convincing. If you make the mistake of believing them, they’ll hold you back from success.
When a bad story is about to replay in your mind, recognize it for what it is: the past. That sticky fable doesn’t have to be today’s reality.
“Mentally stop and say, ‘What am I telling myself right now?’ Find time in your day to stop and ask yourself what limiting beliefs you have,” Hall says.
2. Confront the story. Is it true or false?
The emotions that come with a bad story are horrible, but that doesn’t mean they’re factual, Hall says. A self-limiting thought is just that: a thought. It’s not based on data, so you control what happens next.
For many people, the beginning of the pandemic was an exercise in overcoming bad stories. Even Hall had demons to slay. In addition to a challenging year, she felt disconnected from her fitness journey.
She thought, What’s the point of exercising if SoulCycle is closed? I can’t do the exact workout I want at home. Well, there’s no time to work out, anyway. I need to take care of the kids.
“These stories weren’t necessarily negative, but they were certainly supporting my stagnation,” she says.
Eventually, she shattered the false narrative. She told herself the truth by thinking, I can exercise in the next room, right near my kids. They can spend an hour on their iPads while I do a 500-calorie workout.
As soon as Hall acted on those positive thoughts, she felt better because she was finally exercising again. The first step was acknowledging the story in her head, and the second was asking, “Is this true or false?”
3. Choose a better story to replace the old one.
Have you ever tried to rewrite a story from your past? It’s an impossible task. While it almost seems feasible, you can’t recast old characters from your life’s story. And you can’t delete the scenes that influenced your personality or molded your perspective. All you can do is choose a better story that eclipses the old one.
When Hall searched for motivation to work out, she clung to one indestructible story. No matter what, she could always return to that memory as a source of inspiration and truth.
“I told myself the story of a wedding I went to when I had been active and keeping the promises to myself,” she says. “I felt great. I felt beautiful. A woman came up to me at that wedding and said, ‘Wow, you look radiant.’ And it wasn’t the kind of, ‘You look so pretty [compliment].’ It was that I felt radiant. It was the kind of thing that comes from inside of you.”
Trying to exercise on command was pointless without that golden memory, she says. She needed a better story, which is the theme of Hall’s new book: First, you tackle the story, and then you change your life.
“Again, the book isn’t called ‘Change Your Story, Change Your Life,’” Hall says. “We can’t change the things that happened to us. We can’t change the stories that are the pieces of our experiences—the pieces of our reality. But we can choose to set those aside in favor of stories that get us where we want to go.”