The stories that we tell ourselves largely shape, and sometimes dictate, our perceptions of reality.
When last we spoke, I summed it up a little like this:
“A story told is a story written.”
But here is another equally powerful idea that I also believe is true:
A story told may be a story written, but that story is never written in stone.
What we speak into reality, in essence, becomes the world around us, as we know it. But those stories are not permanent. The stories we tell ourselves are malleable, changeable, and editable.
Last week, I shared three key principles or “ingredients” that I believe may be essential for keeping our hearts and minds free and autonomous to living the stories that we want to tell.
For me, those three key ingredients seem to be:
(You can take a look over on the blog for a further breakdown of how I defined these qualities.)
Today, I want to continue this exploration by asking:
How have these concepts taken shape in practice for me lately?
I’d like to give you some examples of how these ideas have been applied to my life and business lately to showcase how they can look and feel in practice, and how they’ve supported my self-storied life in turn.
Curiosity: Health, Wellness, and Personal Practices
Throughout the pandemic, which has been a time of such great uncertainty, I’ve found the feeling of a lack of control over the bigness of the circumstances before us to be particularly challenging.
That’s why I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the last year channeling that craving for control and autonomy into easily-accessible practice areas — practice areas that have remained within my control, like personal wellness, health, mindfulness, exercise routines, cooking and baking, and the like.
From practicing distance running (which I’ve maintained since last spring) to beginning a really positive relationship to intermittent fasting for the last 10 weeks, continuing my Wim Hof Method breathwork and, just recently, adding a new tapping meditation to my morning routines, I’ve been embracing curiosity as a helpful resource in rewriting many assumptions and expectations about what is or isn’t “for me” in my own health and wellness journey.
These practices reach a lot deeper than health and wellness for me, too.
There are some very personal and intimate stories that I’ve held as “true” about myself and what I deserve, or how “good enough” or “worthy” I am as a person, through expressions of physical health, body image, and so on.
Over the years, these stories have had ways of shaping my self-esteem, self-confidence, and feelings of worthiness as a person.
Over the last year, however, I’ve been breaking down these stories by being curious about what new possibilities could arise… if I reshaped some practices or explorations of health and wellness in new and very supportive ways.
What’s so beautiful about keeping curious is that we almost magically discover the ability to really surprise ourselves with what is possible.
My “stories” around certain health, wellness, and personal practices were certainly written as “true” in my psyche, but, as it turns out, they were never completely written in stone.
Skepticism: Business, Creativity, and Writing
Skepticism, which is distinct and different from cynicism, gives us the ability to use discernment to distinguish truths from untruths, exaggerations, or outright lies and manipulations.
And, I’ve found that some of the toughest lies and manipulations to break free from in our lives are those that we’ve told ourselves for so long that they feel like unequivocal truths.
As a self-employed person for going on 12 years now, applying healthy skepticism and discernment as a tool in business has always been a particularly tricky one for me to navigate.
(And, I see the trickiness playing out, time and time again, with many of my clients.)
Applying healthy skepticism to our self-employed or creative work is important: we need an element of skepticism to learn, grow, evolve and improve as a creative or a professional over time.
And yet, there’s a very thin line between being skeptical of what you do and how you do it — analyzing and questioning matters like how we work, the manner of our work, and we do for work, and so on — because, when left unchecked, skepticism can get hijacked by feelings like imposter syndrome or low self-esteem and create a dangerous, downward spiral.
Rather than applying healthy skepticism to “the way we’ve always done things” so that we might innovate or improve upon them, we might mistakenly question ourselves, our deservedness, or even our own intelligence as self-employed or creative persons.
Over the last 6 months, especially, I’ve applied a lot of healthy skepticism to my business, my professional goals, and even the outcomes that I desire for my coaching clients.
As a result, as I have recently shared, I’ve completely evolved how I run my business and the core coaching offering that I have today, Claim Your Calling, which is buzzing with energy, a ton of excitement, and already creating wonderful results for our first client-members.
But I don’t think my applied skepticism would have been as healthy as it was if I was left to stew on it, all on my own.
What I instinctively did last autumn was to take my skepticism — born of several hypotheses and questions that felt worthy of exploring — and instead of ruminating on them and analyzing them to death in my own head for months on end, I brought them to trusted friends, peers, fellow coaches, experienced creative entrepreneurs in my circles, former clients, and even some prospective clients.
This way, I could actively explore my skepticism out loud, with others’ feedback and opinions to help inform, guide and support me.
Of course, not everyone’s own ideas, opinions, beliefs, or feedback are necessarily good or true for you. But I always find that generating ideas, questions, and data points from vetted, trusted peers and companions does so much good in helping us to inform ourselves of our own truth and beliefs and opinions.
Thanks to the cast of supporters who I enlisted for feedback and co-exploration, Claim Your Calling℠ was formulated and launched in less than 4 months, and it’s already poised to become and remain the centerpiece of my work as a coach for years to come.
Thank you, skepticism, for helping me evolve and refine what I do and how I do it!
Shifting business and how we do it is just one example of another story that’s been “written” but not etched eternally in stone.
Diversity: Clientele, Media, and Self-Education
Finally, diversity! This is taking on a few different shapes these days. On the business side of things:
I reworked last year’s initiative (during which I donated 3% of profits from new coaching clients to COVID-response and racial equity causes) and challenged myself to stretch into more direct-action work with underrepresented groups, especially among my own readership and client base.
In January, I developed my first-attempt at a sliding scale pricing through which scholarship recipients would be eligible for a discounted membership to Claim Your Calling℠.
I’m also in talks with a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) consultant these days to explore new methods, means, and practices of connecting with new clients and expanding my circles overall to be better represented by BIPOC creatives, professionals, and entrepreneurs, especially.
As I continue to elevate and prioritize my business’s outreach and support of different underrepresented groups, I’m also expanding my own personal exposure to diverse stories, experiences, struggles, and desires through the books I’m reading and the media to which I’m exposing myself regularly.
I’ve kicked off 2021 reading The Book of Delights by poet Ross Gay, Ibram X. Kendi’s How To Be An Anti-Racist, and the community history of African America called Four Hundred Souls that he and Keisha N. Blain edited, whose contributors include some 90 BIPOC thought leaders, writers, and poets.
I’m further challenging myself to consume books from BIPOC authors in a 2:1 ratio or greater than those of white authors throughout 2021.
What Stories Are You Rewriting Today?
A story told may indeed be a story written, but that does not mean the story is written in stone.
Stories are not permanent. They are malleable. Our stories change as we change. We alone hold the power to edit, shift, and revise our stories.
We get to tell our stories anew, by our choosing.
The goal is not to magically recreate our realities, let alone instantly, let alone for everyone, in each and every utterance or thought that we possess. The point is to begin within and change your world by your choosing, in whatever ways we may be able.
As the writer of the story of your life, how, dear friend, are you authoring yours these days?
Hit reply and let me know what you consider to be the top, most essential ingredients for living your own self-storied life today.
I’d love to hear how your personal practices, business shifts, evolutions, and explorations are embodying your key ingredients, too, just like I shared today.
I’ll look forward to hearing from you, *|FNAME|*,
Until then, keep storying your life as you see fit.
We can create our world anew, alongside one another, and on behalf of the future that we want to share in.