Change The Story You Tell Yourself

Teenagers with quotes to signal their stories.

Change The Story You Tell Yourself

A lot of how you feel, the activities you take part in and the things you do originate from the stories you tell yourself. Let me explain by describing a recent conversation I found myself listening to because quite often people don’t grasp what I mean by the ‘story you tell yourself’.

Conversations that paint a picture

During one of my working from home days, I popped into the local coffee shop for some lunch and a break from the computer. Sipping a black coffee and eyeing up the sweet treats I was mentally drawn into a conversation by a bunch of ladies on the next table. Have you ever done that? You’ve been minding your own business then all of a sudden a few words capture your attention, your ears twitch and you’re hooked? You feel a bit like an impostor but you can’t help but listen!

The ladies were chatting about holidays, where they had been and where they would love to visit. I was ticking off some of the destinations that I’d been to and wished to go in my mind as they spoke, creating my travel bucket list.

As the conversation progressed, more exotic places were suggested until one lady commented that ‘it would be impossible to visit there because you’d need to take at least one to two months to make it worthwhile’ and ‘it would be so expensive’. I forget where it was now, a tour of New Zealand maybe, but it got me thinking, ‘is it impossible? Why would you need so much time? And why should it be so expensive?’


“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”


Switch the story around to what does work

Earlier in the year I flew 6000 miles to Portland on the West Coast of America to attend a two-day event. It took longer to get there and back than the time I actually spent on the ground at the event. People look at me as though I’m crazy when I explain this. You know what? It was beyond worth it! There were many movies watched, and several slow-going changeovers, but I would not have missed it for the world. I certainly wasn’t going to let the limits of my beliefs or the beliefs of others stop me from doing something that I knew would be enriching for me.

Think about this from a completely different viewpoint … I got to spend time with some of my closest colleagues and friends from around the world. I was able to catch up with people I’d not seen for ages and hear about their adventures. I was fortunate to hang out with some of the top neuroscience strategists (the really clever people who understand what makes our nervous system and brain tick) in the world and learn from them for two full days to expand my knowledge at a mind-blowing level. And to top it off, I got to stay on the most awesome floating house on the river as my hotel.

After the event, I was able to bring home many memories of friendships, mentorships and new experiences. The trip made a difference to my life and also equipped me with newfound knowledge that I can now bring into my world of personal empowerment for young people, parents and carers. It was a win, win situation, 100 per cent, as far as I’m concerned.

“Behind you all your memories. Before you all your dreams. Around you all who love you. Within you all you need.”

Stretch your imagination

Now I’ve shared this with you, are you ready to stretch and challenge your thinking? I wanted to challenge the ladies in the coffee shop with this but I needed to mind my own business in that situation! But not today as you’re here reading this, so why not?

Imagine a place that you always wanted to visit. In the past, you might have decided that you couldn’t get there, didn’t have enough time or enough money, that you were too young or that it would be too hard to organise. Make a note of the destination and your reasons for the adventure not becoming reality. I’ll give you another example … I always wanted to go back to Rome. I had been before but only for one day. During this one day, I decided that Rome was beautiful, stunning and mindblowing, but for years I never returned. My thoughts were ‘when I have someone to go with I’ll enjoy the experience.’ And then one day, four years later, I was still waiting and thought, ‘why do I need to go with someone? Who says I’m not brave enough to go on my own? Who says I can’t do it?’ This was the story I was telling myself and it was preventing me from doing something I had a real desire to do.

So, I took a spontaneous decision and booked a solo trip to Rome for four days for my birthday. And it was amazing! I visited the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel and many museums. It was magnificent.

One of my absolute favourite places was the Trevi Fountain. I remember sitting outside a pavement café with glass of red wine and salad watching the sunset and all of a sudden the Colosseum lit up. It was a priceless, pinch me moment and again I wondered why had I waited for so long to go back to Rome and why I had listened to myself telling that incorrect story for so long. When did you last put something off that you really wanted to do because of a list of excuses in your head?

The only thing holding you back is you and the stories you tell yourself that keep you from doing some of the things you want to. Once you start to notice these thoughts – out of the 60,000 thoughts whizzing around in your head each day– you’ll see that most of them are negative and they are the same.


“I’d rather have a passport of stamps than a house full of stuff.”


Create your own positive and aspirational story

Imagine again the place you’ve always wanted to visit or the activity you’ve always wanted to do. What was the story you told yourself in the past about why it wasn’t possible and what is it going to be now as you change your story? What experience would you want to take place on that trip that would make it above and beyond worth it? Test yourself even further, what would make it for you to have the courage to go alone?

I’ve been twice and I would still return to Rome in a heartbeat. I’m even going back to Portland but this time for a five-day trip. You see the difference with me now is that I took away the story that ‘I can’t go by myself’, ‘I have too little time’ and the results have been the pleasure of me experiencing some of the most amazing places. And this could be you too.

It’s amazing what’s possible when you remove those self-imposed limitations. Make things doable for yourself. What are your limitations? Get rid of them. Limitations are not healthy for anyone.

How about booking a flight, a train, or a skydiving trip? I’ve skydived three times for charity and I’m a real adrenaline junkie – why don’t you join me? Make a list of what you really want to do. If it’s written down and visible on a daily basis you’ll achieve it. Perhaps you’d like to learn something rather than visit somewhere?

You are never too old, too young, not clever enough or too nervous and something should never be too hard or too far away. If you really fancy it, you will always get there, always be able to commit to something on a regular basis and find time. What if you are just the right age, the time is perfect and it’s available online at a fraction of the cost?

Anything is possible, it’s just a matter of time and approach.


Choose the life you want to lead

Back on Track Teens Write Icon in PinkWrite a list of 3-4 things you want to learn or experience. Carry out a bit of research and get excited about it. You are beyond worth it. I would love to hear what you would like to do, where you would like to visit or what new thing you would like to learn – tell me about them and connect with me:

I’m excited to hear how you’re going to expand your world and experiences. Until next time, have the most wonder-filled and adventurous week.

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