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Change your story, change your life

On a car ride back from a busy holiday celebration on the east coast I listened to Lady Gaga talk about her mental health. She kept referring to the hope she has each day that the emotions will eventually change, and how the trauma shows up physically in her body. She sees a psychologist every single morning so she can keep the physical manifestation of her pain at bay and do her work. Yes, your emotions manifest physically in your body. Aches and pains? High probability those are emotions. Weight gain? High probability your mindset is causing your eating habits or your emotions are manifesting as weight gain. Take it from a girl who has had a disciplined diet her whole life, when I was emotional overwhelmed I gained weight without eating anything extra.

A few nights before listening to that podcast I was having a conversation until about three in the morning with my family about growth. They had a lot of questions for me regarding our family, especially since they have been our support network since losing my mom. We talked about grief, therapy, dealing with health scares from my loving father. I just kept saying to them, “You know in a lot of ways I went to California to get away from all of this. I dealt with this pain my whole life and I just needed to be as far away from it is as I could. When I returned home I had no choice but to face it. What I discovered was that all of this pain truly isn’t mine to carry and I can’t fix my family, I can only fix myself. But, in order to fix myself I had to change the story I was telling myself”.

My uncle said to me, “Well T, you should be really proud of all the work you’ve done, it’s seriously amazing who you have become”.

It was an incredible validation for a very lonely journey I had been on trying to become stronger. I wanted to be more than the sad memories that haunted me and the trauma of my past. I didn’t think anyone noticed how I was always the one trying to look on the bright side, how optimism had become my defense mechanism against situations that were sometimes almost too much to bear. I was an optimist, because I had to be.

I think we like to pretend that our mindset and our emotions are separate from our careers and business. We like to “put them over here” and deal with them “another time” when work isn’t so stressful or obligations aren’t piled up. What we don’t realize is that the more we “put them over here” the more they break us down and start to eat away at our progress and success.

I have never met a successful business owner or executive who isn’t working on their mental health every single day. I haven’t met a successful business owner or executive that doesn’t have a routine for their physical and mental health. I hate to say it, and perhaps you’re sick of hearing it, but discipline is a pre-requisite for success.

And here is the thing, you don’t have to have major trauma to have a reason to deal with your mental wellness. I think we believe trauma is this very dramatic thing that “other people have”. While I might not use the word “trauma” for a divorce or losing a family member or hating your job, I would say that those are significant occurrences that deserve to be processed. And even if you have “nothing to process” because you have lived a life of unicorns and fairytales, the management of your thoughts is still the secret weapon to your success.

What I notice most about my client base is that they prefer I sell them on “achieving your goals” and “growing your business by X amount” or finding that “perfect job” but when we get into our sessions the work is really about the story they are telling themselves that is getting in the way of all of those things that they want.

But to change that story we must commit to the work daily. We must realize that to get what we want, we must change our mind significantly.

A statistic from the National Science Foundation says that our brains produce 50,000 thoughts per day and that about 2/3rds of those thoughts are negative.

Sometimes people will say to me, “I don’t want to have to meditate, I don’t have the time. I don’t have time to exercise. I don’t have time to reflect. I don’t have time to show up for that coaching session” and I with grace reply, “then you can’t have what you want”.

I think we can all agree that Lady Gaga has success that most of us can’t even contemplate. Not only does she have success in her career choice, but she also has a successful foundation and now another venture completely out of her wheelhouse. In another podcast I heard Tim McGraw talk about how he and his crew exercise three times a day when they are on tour. Three times a day in order to have the energy to be excellent on stage. This is the discipline I am referring to.

You think it’s hard work to change how you think and to move your body regularly, do you realize how hard you are working because you aren’t doing this?

Do you realize how much weight you carry with the negative stories you tell yourself? Do you realize how much this is weighing you down?

Do you realize how much ignoring your internal voice that says “you can” and to “take a chance” and “go after what you want” is hurting you?

It seems scarier to make the changes in your life that you know you need to make, but I argue that it is actually quite scarier and damaging to you for you to stay put carrying all of those lies in your brain.

Here is an example of how we lie to ourselves:

“I can’t quit this job because I can’t get another one”

“I can’t quit this job because these people count on me and no one else can do it”

“I can’t quit this job I hate because it will look bad”

“I can’t start that company because I don’t have the experience to make it work”

“Wanting work life balance is lazy, I should want to work harder”

“I can’t take a chance on love because I screw up every relationship I am in”

“I hate my relationship but if I leave no one will ever love me again”

“Love isn’t for me, I have so much proof that I am not good enough for real love”

“If I let this person love me, they might see all the ways I am a fraud and then not want to be with me”

“I am a bad daughter because I wasn’t there when my dad needed me the most”

“If I would have just called my parent more and been there for them they wouldn’t have died”

“I can’t have peace in my life because life is just stressful and this is the way it has to be”

“I can’t ask for that because I don’t deserve it”

“Asking for more money is greedy”

“Taking that trip is selfish”

“Work doesn’t have to be enjoyable, its a myth that people love what they do”

“I’m too old to start something new”

“I am not good enough”

Can you feel the weight of those stories? Can you see how if your friend came to you and said this is what I am feeling and thinking that you would immediately want to find a way to give them relief? This is what I want for you, because your mind is a tool that can be used for good, but only if you practice.

So how did I change my story? How did I stop telling myself I was the girl who was responsible for her family because her mother died? How did I stop taking on the pain of my past and build a life of freedom and equilibrium?

It started with facing the lies head on. Here’s how you can start today:

  • Take each thought that is keeping you frozen and ask yourself, “How true is this thought?”

  • At first the thoughts might tell you that there is so much data to back up the thought, you have to remember your brain is a ninja so it will win the first few rounds of this fight.

  • Ask again, “how true is what I am telling myself?”

  • Then ask yourself, “If this wasn’t true, what would be possible?”

  • Let your brain contemplate this for a moment.

    • If taking that trip isn’t selfish, what would I do?

    • If you are capable of a loving committed relationship, what would you do right now?

    • If you believed that you could have balance and peace in your life, what changes would you make right now?

    • If you knew someone else could step in and do your job, what would that free you up to do?

    • If you knew success came from a place of equilibriam not stress and overwhelm, what would you delete from your schedule?

    • If you felt like you were capable and good enough for the things you wanted, what would go after?

  • I want you to do this every single morning for seven days. Take at least one of the thoughts in your brain that hurts you and reframe it as false. Then ask yourself what you would do if you knew that lie you have been telling yourself wasn’t true.

When you feel like stopping this exercise and you tell yourself that it is “too much work” I want you to think about how much it hurts to be where you are not doing what you want and not living how you want to live. Is five minutes a day worth your health? Is it worth your joy? Is it worth paying your bills and getting back on track? Is it worth a life long partner or a happy marriage?

I know you know that it is. Don’t let your brain trick you into thinking your life has to be miserable and less than you dream it to be. Do the work, see the results, celebrate the wins, get what you want.

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