Theresa Sullivan | Conservation Careers
We humans are really great at telling ourselves stories. That voice we hear in our head recites some pretty interesting narratives so often and so frequently that we really start believing them after awhile. These stories we keep thinking turn into our beliefs about ourselves, others and the world in general. They actually create our reality. The thing is, they only create our own reality, and there are as many different realities in this world as there are human beings. And that’s good, because it means the reality we live in isn’t already fixed – our thoughts have the power to change it every minute of our lives.
Day to day, I meet a lot of people’s stories. They sound a lot like “I don’t like my job, but it pays the bills”, “‘ This ‘following your passion’ stuff is B.S. But you can’t make any money at it”, “I don’t really have a passion for anything. Maybe if I did, I would do something else, but what’s the point?”, or “I’ve got a family that is counting on me, so I have no choice but to stick with this job I hate for now”. My guess is that you’ve heard these stories too. Perhaps one of them is even yours.
Though these stories may seem like very true statements to some people, they are, in fact, lies. Lies people tell themselves that keep them in jobs and careers and relationships that are bad for them. How can you tell they’re lies? Because lies keep us in situations that are bad for us. When we’re telling our truth, it feels good – it feels right. But it’s often easier to have a victim mentality that the cards have been dealt and whatever you’ve ended up with is all you’ll ever have, or that you really have no options left, except terrible ones, and everybody knows it. The stories we tell often start out as protection for our ego; they make us feel better about bad situations by pretending that things are out of our control or someone else’s fault and there is just nothing we can do about it. But then they spiral into excuses and beliefs that have the potential to ruin us.
You may be thinking, “I don’t lie to myself! Everything about my situation is true!” If you want to know what stories you tell yourself, then take a good look at the state of your relationships, your home, your career, your health, your bank account — they are perfect indicators of the stories you believe. If your stories are true, then you are content with everything you see. If you’re lying to yourself, then what you see isn’t good enough for you. You’re disappointed in what you have and what you’re doing. Wherever you feel disheartened or dissatisfied, take it as a sign that your story is holding you back and could use some changing up. The best way to change our stories? Question them. Speak your story out loud and then ask yourself, “Is it true?” (Spoiler alert: it isn’t!) Chances are, you can think of a much truer, much better story to tell in its place.
So let’s practice.
The top five lies I hear from the professionals I coach go something like: