How to Reframe the Stories We Tell Ourselves
Most of us, if not all of us, tell ourselves certain stories about who we are and what we’re capable of. Some of these stories can be positive, like “I’m a hard worker” or “I’m a responsible parent” and we should continue telling ourselves those. The stories we’re going to focus on today though, are the negative ones we tell ourselves and how we can reframe them.
Can you think of a story that you’ve consciously or unconsciously been telling yourself that weighs you down? Common stories I often hear people sharing are things like: I’ll never have enough money, I have terrible luck with guys, I’ll never be in the shape I want to be in, and so on. There are a number of components going on with these stories (or lies) we tell ourselves, that lead us to keep believing them. The story you’re telling yourself probably stems from some amount of truth, but it’s important to remember that isn’t the whole truth. Your story may also be benefitting your life in some way, which causes you to continue to find evidence for it. And the more you repeat this story, the easier it will be for you to find evidence to support it (a little phenomenon also known as confirmation bias). The problem with believing these stories is that we’re limiting ourselves to stay in a place that doesn’t allow for personal growth and that we don’t benefit from. Whatever story you’re telling yourself does not define you. You have the power and ability to change your story whenever you want.
Let’s try to dismantle and reframe a common story: “I have terrible luck with guys.” If you asked someone who held this story to expand on what they meant by this, they might say something like, “I can never find a good guy. All the good guys are already taken or they just don’t exist. I’ve only dated losers so I don’t see the point of even trying to date anymore.” Perhaps there is truth to your story. You feel like you’ve never dated a good guy so you’re doubtful that you will find a good one in the future. That’s understandable. Let’s move to the part of why you don’t think you’ll find a good guy. Is it true that out of the 7.65 billion people (so roughly 3.83 billion men) that all of them are already taken? No. Okay, so if they’re not all taken, none of them are good guys? You’ve never met a good guy in your life? No, I guess that some good guys do exist. Since good guys do exist, is it possible you could meet one? I suppose it’s possible. Okay, we’ve established that it’s possible to meet a good guy. But now we have to focus on how you go from meeting a good guy to dating a good guy. Like I mentioned earlier, our stories often benefit us in some way, even if we don’t immediately see it. In this case, clinging to the story that you have bad luck with guys could be protecting you from putting your heart out there and getting hurt again. You could also be struggling with feelings of unworthiness and you may believe that you don’t deserve a good guy, which is why you find yourself attracting “losers.” But now that you’re open to the possibility that good guys exist and are out there and since you’ve already had experience dating guys in the past and figuring out which ones aren’t the good ones, you’re one step closer to finding a good one. So instead of thinking “I have terrible luck with guys,” perhaps you could reframe that thought to: “I’m open to meeting a good guy and having better experiences with men in the future.”
Telling yourself a negative story and believing it to be true is completely normal. I’m sure most of us do it. I know I do! And I’m not even saying that there’s no truth to your story. Your story could very well be based in truth, but that doesn’t mean the story is true anymore. Holding onto the weight of these limiting stories doesn’t serve the future you’re trying to create, so try reframing your story with the exercise above. I hope it helps!