We tell stories all the time. We tell stories about ourselves. About our choices. About other people and their choices. We love stories, and we shape them to fit our own view of the world without even thinking about it.
Some people believe (consciously or subconsciously) that you can simply replace a narrative you don’t like with another narrative of your choosing. I struggle with this advice. Maybe it’s an embodiment of that whole “speak it into existence” idea, and maybe it is helpful in some circumstances, but I think there’s a level of danger that can exist in the gap between what is and what isn’t yet. If we don’t acknowledge the gap, we’re in danger of never crossing it.
That said, narrative shifting is incredibly helpful. The ability to see and recognize an existing narrative, identify where it differs from what you want it to be – or, more specifically, how you differ from who you want to be – can empower you to shift the narrative in a way that both acknowledges the reality of what is while not keeping you chained to it. Sometimes it even gives you the insight or peace you need to know which step to take next.
“I suck at X” becomes “I’m not good at X yet, but I am developing the skills that will help me become good at X.”
“I’m an expert at Y” becomes “I’m a student of Y.” Because the more you learn, the more you realize how much is left to explore.
“I want Z and will never get it” becomes “I want Z because it will enable me to become this type of person. I am already on the journey to becoming that person – I am that person, already, in some ways, but no, not yet in others – and I am continuing to make choices that enable me to fully be the person I want to be.”
Anxiety looses much of its edge when we’re willing to examine and shift our narrative.