Our self image is nothing but a story that we tell ourselves. Whether you feel happy or sad, fat or thin, clever or stupid, active or lazy, driven or laid back – it’s all just a story.
Is your Story what you want it to be?
If not, how do you change it?
First try making a list of things that you would like to be.
Maybe your list is something like this, or maybe it’s completely different – what the list is doesn’t matter – it’s YOUR story, so it needs to be YOUR list.
Now that you’ve created your list try to prioritise it. Put the most important things to you at the top and the least important at the bottom.
Let’s take the first thing on your list.
The first thing I’d like you to think about is why this is important to you. Let’s take being slimmer as an example. Why do you want to be slimmer?
The answers could be any or all of the following, or maybe something else entirely, but here are a few examples.
Feeling more confident
Enjoying having my picture taken more
Being able to shop in different stores
Going to different places
OK, so now we have a list of things we believe we will gain. How would it be if instead of working on ‘being slimmer’ we worked on being healthier or feeling more confident. Maybe by choosing to be healthier (choosing better foods and doing a little more exercise) we naturally lose weight…Maybe by working on our confidence we actually end up socialising more and doing more…again helping us to avoid sitting at home snacking and allowing us to be more involved and active. Suddenly we may be losing weight by working on what we wanted to GAIN.
But our stories are more than that. Our self image is produced by millions if not billions of different things and reality only plays a small part of it. Take for example somebody with body dismorphia. Body dismorphia is when a person has a distorted image of their body. It could be somebody who sees a fat person in the mirror, but who is actually very thin, as with anorexia or it could be somebody who sees a skinny body despite the fact they have bulging muscles and work out 8 hours a day in a gym. Their story is not created by reality. It’s created by their thoughts, by what they tell themselves over and over again.
In most cases this is triggered my things others have said to them. It may have been a case of serious bullying where they were effectively tortured by those around them into believing something false. Equally it could have been an off the cuff comment that someone once said to them that has stuck with them and they have used as a basis for their distorted belief. That person could be as close as a parent or sibling, or just a random idiot who shouted at them in the street.
So, how do you change the story?
Well the easy answer is you make a new one. Your brain is a wonderful, amazing thing, but it is also flawed. One of it’s many flaws is that it isn’t very good at differentiating between things that have actually happened and things that you make up. For example, when you watch a scary film, you KNOW that the people are just actors and the story is fiction, but it doesn’t stop your body sending adrenaline shooting into your system, making your heart beat faster and your breathing become more rapid. It’s fooled by this made up story,
The good news is you can make up whatever story you want.
So if someone once told you you were stupid and would never be able to do maths and you have had a problem with it ever since, change your story. Imagine being back in that situation and think about someone telling you that you were brilliant and that if you worked at it you would be able to get it in no time. If someone once told you you had no self control and you have been using that as a model for why you can’t refuse a piece of cake, imagine somebody telling you how disciplined and controlled you are and how proud of yourself you should be for taking control of your life.
The story you have told yourself has probably been told thousands of times and it may take lots of retelling to change YOUR STORY, but I promise you, you can do it.
I believe anyone can be the author of their own story, but if you need help there are professionals ready and waiting to help you. Whether they are Counsellors, Hypnotherapists or any other form of therapist, they can help you to tell your story the way you want it to be.