As you know by now the words we use have power (read all about the power of words here). The words we use daily have even more power as they can and do lead our days. They influence the way we think act and do. Therefore it is incredibly important to watch what you say. We have to watch what we say about ourselves, about life, basically every word we utter. As all that you say is helping you cement your narrative. If you are not paying attention you might be writing your story with words you don’t want to have as a part of it. Here are a four proven techniques you can use to change your narrative when you have inked things in your life story that you don’t want to take with you to the future.
How To Start Changing Your Story
To start changing you story you need to, as always, start questioning it. No, I do not mean in a ruminating way. When you are building your narrative you are using the answers of the questions to continue writing. The more you repeat them the more they become part of your inner voice and inner narrative.
If the words you are using are not in line with the narrative that you want to live it is nearly impossible to change your life.
Seeing that the story was build using the answers to the question already asked at some point, it is only normal that the way to change your narrative is to either ask the same questions again or ask new questions. Example of questions with answers that influence your story are
What words do I use describe myself? My Life? My Surrounding?
What is the narrative that is being repeated constantly?
Is it helping your life?
It is time to dissect the answers to these questions as it is the way of how to change your narrative.
4 Techniques To Change Your Narrative
Now of course changing your story can’t only be done using these answers. Simply because you might have habits attached to this narrative as well and/or you have been using this life story of yours for a long time. That’s why it is important to know about these four techniques to use to improve your narrative or even completely change it and your life.
1. Self Fulfilling Prophecy
Over the course of our life we have created certain catchphrases. Now don’t think of Joey on Friends but more along the lines of repeating something so often your closest people know it was you that said it. Catchphrases like:
‘’I can never find a parking space’’
‘’I am not good at math (this is one of mine)’’
‘’I always have bad luck’’.
In psychology there is a theory that is called Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
‘’Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: when a person unknowingly causes a prediction to come true, due to the simple fact that he or she expects it to come true.’’*
These catchphrases could be self-fulling prophecies in your life. The thing with catchphrases is that they are said a lot. Earlier I said the more you say something the more you cement it into your story and thus make yourself believe it, which is where the self-fulling prophecy steps in and potentially helps you ruin your life.
For example, if you believe in your heart of hearts that you can never find a parking space be sure to know that you won’t. Simply because you are not creating an environment for yourself that is focused on always finding that right in front of the door great class A spot. The more proof you gather that your believe of ”never being able to find a parking space” the more you believe it and the more you keep making it true.
However the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy works in both ways, negative and positive. It can help you write your negative life story in stone but also your positive life story. It’s a no brainer that to change your narrative you need to start using the self-fulling prophecy to your advantage and let it help you change your life.
To go back to the parking spot example, instead of making the prophecy work against you how about making it work for you by saying, for example, ‘’I can always find a great parking spot’’? Or ” I always find the parking spot I want”. Both are positive catchphrases that when you start believing and focusing on them you can make them part of your inner narrative as well as part of your life story in general.
Think about certain catchphrases that you have tattooed on your brain and start making them work for you, don’t let them hold you back even if you have seen tangible proof. Remember words have power, use them to change your narrative for the better.
2. Reinforcement Of The Story You Want
This is a way that you can make your Self-Fulfilling Prophecy work better and stronger by recognising it every time it becomes true. Thus, for example, when you find that amazing parking spot right in front of the entrance door celebrate in some way or form. I prefer to just tell myself ‘’I told you so, I always find the best spots!’’.
Doing this will make your brain sensitive to the fact that it is true and you will start recalling the positive instances more than the negative instances. Also repeat your prophecy way more than you think is sane. This will help you to start believing it with every fiber of your body just like you believed the negative. It really is about drowning about the negative as best you can.
You have to be mindful to not start thinking of this as some kind of magic trick. It is not. It can very well happen that you don’t find that great parking spot for example. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. It just means that you can’t possibly turn everything to your luck, which is absolutely normal in life!
When it happens just cheer yourself up by saying something along the lines of
”Better luck next time”
”Next time I am sure that it is going to happen”
Both are recognizing that it hasn’t happened this time or yet, but are affirming that the next time it will. The positive focus on the future is what helps the prophecy stay in tact instead unraveling at the first speedbump.
If you are looking for a 5th and 6th way to positively influence your narrative through your words, then you can find them right here:
5th here and 6th here.
The My Story Of I Shop can also be of great assistance.
3. Rephrase your positive correctly
Before I explain this I want to preface this by saying that it is perfectly normal to say positive things in a negative way. For example:
‘’I will not fail my exam’’
‘’I will not lose my keys’’
‘’I will not be late’’.
Stating a positive like this is completely normal to us. However there is something wrong with and it is not helping you change your narrative in order to be able to change your life. The thing is in a way you are saying something positive, but you are being made aware of the negative as well. You need to learn to say something positive completely positively, thus you have to remove the negative.
There are ways to say the exact same thing without using the word ‘’not’’. Using the above examples;
‘’I will pass my exam’’ –> you took the negative ”failing” out of the equation. You do not want that word in your mind when thinking about your exams or anything else really.
‘’I always remember where I left my keys’’ –> you took out the ”losing” the focus needs to be away from that thus you need to rephrase the sentence completely in order to remove this negative in a way that makes sense.
‘’I am on time’’. –> This is the simplest one of the three by saying the exact opposite while still wanting and hopefully getting the same result.
Using various forms of rephrasing you can say the exact thing that you want to happen, that you actually want to express without using any kind of negative words that could silently hinder your life story.
It’s a fine but important line.
4. Never say anything you wish to not hear back
There are certain things we say about ourselves that when we hear them back it hurts, which mostly makes us think that the other person is rude, but stop and think about where they got the information from?
We teach people how to treat us. This includes what is okay or not okay to say about you. This teaching starts with us, with what we say about ourselves. The whole ”it’s okay when I say it, but not when you do” is super confusing to people and is only helping you create future problems unnecessarily.
The cure for this is really simple, never say anything you do not wish for someone to bring back to you. When you do this, the door for others to call you those things remains shut, which is what you want and how you can change your narrative. Not only change your narrative but also stay in better control of your narrative.
The consistency with which you speak about yourself helps navigate the persona around you a little bit. Not much but a little bit that is enough for people to know not to run their mouths in ways that are absolutely not supported in your life story.
Obviously there are people who are just, you know, different and will still call you things you don’t wish to be called, it is then up to you to determine whether you still want this person in your life. That is a separate issue though. You can never control what another person does, remember that always.
The issue at hand here is that you should always speak about yourself in a loving manner even when you have messed up. Never ever say anything that you do not want someone repeating. Lead by example, always.
A narrative is made with the words you use, in order to change your narrative and change your life you have to mind the words you are inking on life’s paper.
*Definition found in Psychology by Marc Brysbaert.