what we dwell on is what we become

Monthly review: changing the story we tell ourselves

In the Facebook Live sessions I run for Planned + Present when it comes to the topic of habits, I always discuss how important the stories that we tell ourselves are.

We all have a voice that talks to us inside our heads and often it tells us stories about ourselves that may or may not be true. The stories the voices tell are as individual as we are, but after talking to many parents I have found there are some very common stories that we tell ourselves:

  • I am not naturally an organised person
  • I am not a morning person
  • I am not a runner / fitness enthusiast
  • I am always running late
  • I am so busy
  • I am so stressed with work and family commitments

Now there may be some truth to the story that we are telling ourselves, but if we want to progress and make positive changes in our lives, we can’t allow these stories to define us. Yes we might find organising and planning ahead hard, yes we may prefer to sleep until 9am and yes we may currently have a lot on our plate, but this doesn’t mean we can’t change the status quo.

In fact, sometimes telling ourselves these stories gives us an excuse from doing something that we find challenging:

  • It might be that we tend naturally to leaving things to the last minute and like spontaneity, so just can’t get organised. I used to tell myself that.
  • It might be that we are so busy that we can’t find the time to meditate to reduce our stress. I used to say that.
  • It might be that we are not runners because we tried it once found it hard and didn’t enjoy it. I told that story too and now I run marathons, but more importantly, I love running and it brings joy to my life.

How did I change the stories I was telling myself? ACTION! I took the emotional element out of it. I ignored the “I don’t like it”, “I don’t feel like doing it”, “I am too stressed” emotions I was feeling and took action. It took time, it took work and at times it was hard, but I made changes by making a start. And do you know what happened?

My actions redefined my stories.

I started telling myself different and more positive stories. I was now someone who planned their meals and didn’t find meal time stressful. I was now someone who ran regularly. I was now someone who made time for meditation and received the many benefits it brings.

You can change your story too if you want to. You need to decide that you want to make the change, take action to achieve small wins, and begin telling yourself a new story. A new story that will keep you moving in the right direction.

How are you going working towards your goal this year? Are you telling yourself a story that is holding you back from progressing?

March monthly review

HabitConnection to goal - Do the inner work to be able to give more to those around me.Quote - “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” - Carl JungMarch Review
Meditate in the morning for at least 20 minutesI have been meditating for a number of years now, but lately it is often left to the end of the day and I listen to a guided meditation before I go to sleep.

To reap the real benefits of meditation I want to practice in the first half of the day, non guided and for a minimum of 20 minutes. In this time emotions, feelings and issues will come up and I will need to learn to not react to it, simply observe it and focus on the meditation session.
“The more regularly and the more deeply you meditate, the sooner you will find yourself acting always from a center of peace.” - J. Donald Walters
Sometimes you wonder if you are really getting the benefits of an activity. I did wonder at the start of the year if 20 minutes of non-guided mediation during the day would make any difference. I can confirm for me it is.

I can easily sit for 20 minutes without moving now and sit straight! I also look forward to the opportunity to quieten my mind. There is a lot going on with my work and I think about it a lot. But I look forward to switching off when I meditate.

I also have noticed that I am much more aware if my mind is wandering when I am with others now and can redirect it. It is really helping me be more present.

And this is with about an 80% hit rate. I am still not making the 7 days yet. I will keep trying!
Participate in a weekly faith based activityI have a strong personal faith but feel that it needs a recharge and refresh. Immersing myself in more faith based activities will help me achieve this and to examine my spirituality at a deeper level.“Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking.” - Khalil GibranThis is the habit that I thought I would find the hardest to set, but it is going really well. Finding the right time for it in my schedule has been key to this success.
Write in a gratitude journal dailyFor some reason I stopped my gratitude journal process in the latter half of 2020 and I have noticed its absence. Part of my journal entry in the evening is to note down how I could have made the day even better. Reflecting each day on how I can improve is an important part of doing the inner work.“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.” - Christina Baldwin
Through the use of habit stacking, I am hitting this habit every day. It too has such a positive overall impact. I am however trying to make sure if I mention someone I know in my journal, that I also tell them of my gratitude in person.

It is one thing to write it down, but it is also super important to express to those around us when we are grateful for their love, help, support and encouragement.
Learn and speak Phil's love language well and dailyI read The 5 Love Languages® by Dr. Gary Chapman a few years ago and loved the concept. For some reason I never got Phil to do the quiz and work out his love language. I will re-read the book and get us both to do the quiz .

I will then focus on making sure I am speaking Phil's love language on a daily basis.
“Love is a choice you make everyday.” - Gary ChapmanAs I mentioned last month, I have found for habits that require a significant change in behaviour, I have better success when I have that habit as a core focus for a month or two. I intend to make this a core focus in April.

March was better than February, but I still have some way to go to be speaking Phil's love language well and daily.