A former client recently booked a refresher session before an important job interview. She had been successfully doing the role on secondment already - but remained anxious about the interview. During our session, it became clear to her that she was focussing not on her many successes but on the challenges she had faced as well as the fact that she was very young to be considered for promotion to a higher grade.
When she examined the reality, she identified the fact that the 'story' which she was telling herself was really not helpful and she chose to start a new story that day which looked instead at all her achievements. Of course there had been challenges along the way but instead of continuing her negative story where she blamed herself for them, she decided she would learn from them by identifying the logical reasons behind any shortfall. Were more resources necessary? Was the area a priority or should it be shelved because other projects needed her attention? As for the higher grade, she decided that all her focus and hard work would justify the promotion, so instead of assuming that others would question it, she started to recognise her early accomplishments. She happily accepted the job offer which the panel made to her on the spot.
After the session, I started thinking about the importance of consciously choosing the stories we tell ourselves on a daily basis and the benefit of noticing the negative patterns that we can all subconsciously slip into. It's easy to challenge these patterns when you see them from the outside but not when you are caught in a subconscious spiral of negativity. I was out running a few days later and there was a long steep hill as part of the course. Normally I would focus on how much I hate hills and how slow I am, but instead I decided that I would class success as simply running to the top without stopping, regardless of pace. And I made it!
So next time you find you notice that your story is dragging you down instead of helping you function at your best and most positive, ask yourself what a better story might sound like. Don't tell yourself you need to go the gym 5 times a week - tell yourself you need to go at least twice and that everything else is a bonus! Don't beat yourself up because you are running so slowly, give yourself credit for the fact that you are out there doing it and with practice you will get better. When you are feeling negative, take some time out to set yourself some 'quick win' easy goals and focus on the sense of achievement that smashing those goals brings. With each easy win you will gather momentum and set yourself up for more success in the future.