Today I want to share with you an invisible gem that will change your life if you’re willing to take it on board.
You see, there’s a hidden mechanism that creates unhappiness, difficulty in changing habits, relationship problems, frustration, anger and disappointment.
Barely anyone is aware of this hidden mechanism, even though it’s happening all the time, in all of us.
The hidden gem is this: it’s the stories we tell ourselves. And what I often call the itty bitty shitty committee.
We do it all day long: we tell ourselves a story about what’s happening in our lives, about other people, about ourselves. When I call them “stories” … that doesn’t mean they’re false, or that they aren’t based on the truth.
It just means we’ve constructed a narrative based on our experiences, a perspective on the world around us and an interpretation of facts as we see them. This isn’t false. It’s just one perspective.
A different person could look at the same situation and tell a very different situation.
Here are a few examples:
1. You might have a story about how your boss is very supportive and praises you a lot, which means you are doing a good job and you like your work environment. This story makes you happy. Another person might look at the same situation and tell a story about how the work area is messy and people are always interrupting her and she’s tired and the clients are rude.
2. You might be upset with your spouse because s/he was short with you or didn’t clean up her mess for the last few days. Another person might have the same experience and tell themselves a story about how their spouse has been working hard at her job, has gone out of her way to cook a nice meal for you, and is tired and needs care and rest.
3. You might have a story about how you keep procrastinating. You keep failing at being disciplined and never stick to a workout routine.
Another perspective might be that you have achieved some great things despite being distracted at times.
Plus, you’ve been passionate about learning something and that’s taken a priority over the work tasks you’ve been dreading.
Each of these examples have very different stories about the same situations — it’s about which details you pay attention to, and how you shape the narrative of those details.
Now, telling ourselves stories is natural — we all do it, all the time.
There’s nothing wrong with it. But if we’re not aware of the stories we tell ourselves we won’t understand how they shape our happiness, relationships, moods, and more.
Become Aware of Your Stories
Throughout the day, you’re telling yourself stories about what’s going on, about how wrong other people are to do what they do, about how good or bad you are.
My challenge to you is to start to notice what you’re telling yourself about everything.
It’s important to be aware of what those stories are, and how they’re affecting your happiness.
If a story is making you happy, and you’re aware of that, then great! However, what happens if the story starts to make you unhappy with your life? Then if you’re not aware, you have difficulties.
So start to become aware of your stories, good and bad. Notice them throughout the day.
Notice when you’re getting stuck in the story, spinning it around and around in your head.
Sometimes this can go on for hours and at the end of the day the story is the same, nothing is changed and you will have spent hours telling yourself the same thing over and over.
What We Can Do
The first thing you can do is regard the story as an assumption. That doesn’t mean it’s false, it just means it’s not solid. It’s something you’re playing out in your head, just like a fantasy, with very real emotional results.
This requires a degree of awareness about what you’re saying to yourself, about yourself, or about others.
Awareness is the way to end all the suffering that the stories or itty bitty shitty committee can cause.
Self-awareness will bring the realisation that all the answers you need are inside yourself. It’s about being willing to listen and let go of the outdated story that is no longer serving you.
The next thing you can do is not act on the story. Even if you’re caught up in it, that doesn’t mean you have to lash out at someone, or run away and comfort yourself with something.
Instead, just sit with the story. Notice how it’s making you feel. Notice the physical sensations in your body. Notice that you’re caught up. But don’t act, just stay with your awareness.
In this way, you can stop playing the record in your head that is causing the unhappiness and frustration and be more present to whatever is happening in the present moment.
Once you increase your awareness, you’ll be ale to step off the merry go round in your head more quickly and with more ease. And return to other, more positive and life-enriching aspects of your life. That’s empowerment right there!