What’s the Story You Tell Yourself?Jan 28, 2022
At three years old, I wanted to be like Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
At eight, I was nicknamed “Defender” because I spoke up for other kids who didn’t have a voice. At seventeen, I graduated from high school magna cum laude and went off to college with scholarships and grants galore.
These days, I'm typically introduced as an attorney, entrepreneur, #1 international best-selling and award-winning author, featured speaker, teacher, trainer, mentor, media host, consultant, coach, philanthropist, and publisher, but that’s not my whole story.
You see, while all the titles and accolades are true, I'm also an abuse survivor, rape survivor, and domestic violence survivor. I’m a former anorexic who still struggles with body dysmorphia. I’ve struggled financially, lived in my car, and eaten the food restaurants were throwing away at the end of the night. I'm a twice-divorced, childless, middle-aged woman. I’m a cancer survivor and a medical miracle. For over two decades, I've defied the doctors’ death deadlines. I've had 13 major surgeries, and underneath my clothes, my body is covered in scars.
And you know what? I am not alone.
Each of us has a story. Each of us has faced struggle. Each of us has felt pain.
We all have faced obstacles. And we all have scars. While some scars may be visible, more often than not, our scars are invisible to the outside world, hidden deep in our mind, our spirit, or our heart.
Our scars tell the story of our life’s journey—the events and circumstances that have led us to become who we are. They have shaped our histories and our life paths. However, our scars do NOT define us.
“I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is not.”
- Malala Yousafzai
Your Story Matters
I could choose to define myself by the pain I’ve endured and the trauma I’ve experienced. Or, I can take control of my narrative and choose to define myself as a survivor, as a thriver, and as a relentless force. And you can, too.
Will you let your story empower you or imprison you?
I want to tell you a story about my friend Jessie. When Jessie was 12, her uncle reached out to me because he knew that I mentored teenagers and wanted my help getting Jessie back on track. She’d been having difficulty in school and was on the fast track toward dropping out—or worse.
Jessie had been through the ringer herself. No one had ever believed in her, or held her to a higher standard. If she gave up, her uncle was the only person who might’ve been rooting for her.
Despite some help from her uncle, Jessie was buying into some extremely negative stories about herself and her potential. Externally, nobody had ever told her that she was smart and capable. Instead, the adults in her life focused on the negative: that she’d turn out like her father who was in jail, or her mother who was on drugs. Her friends reinforced the story that it wasn’t worth putting forth effort in school because the ‘real world’ didn’t value education.
In short, Jessie was letting her story imprison her.
An empowering change
Jessie and I worked together for several months. With reassurance that she could do the work and that she was smart and resourceful, she learned to think critically and to problem solve. Her self-esteem and confidence bloomed.
Over time, she started taking more responsibility for her actions, and was committed to the outcomes. She understood that opportunities would come her way if she held herself accountable.
How you define yourself determines what you consider yourself capable of doing and achieving. I believe that you are neither defined by nor confined by your circumstances. You can rise above and choose for yourself what your life will be.
But it starts with your story.
How to Change Your Story
This might be hard to hear, but changing your story takes dedication. Most people can’t change it overnight, but you can make small steps that lead you toward a more empowered mindset.
When you put in the time and dedication to change your story, you can create space to define for yourself who you are, what you stand for, and what you want out of life. You can step into your power and create the life you desire.
The power in your words
The first step to changing your story lies in how you tell it. I know you can’t choose what’s happened to you. Believe me, I do. But what I also know is that when you change the story you tell yourself about what’s happened to you, you change your life.
This may sound crazy to you now, but the words you attach to your experiences actually become your experiences! Have you ever noticed that the more you tell people you’re tired, the more tired you feel? The more you tell people you’re stressed, the more stressed and overwhelmed you feel? The words you use and the stories you create about a situation are more powerful than the situation itself!
When you change the words you use to describe your thoughts, feelings, and life events to reflect an empowering narrative, you take control and write your own story—you become the architect of your life! So, what’s your story?
Take the first step in changing your story
As you reframe the story of your life, I encourage you to connect with others who are also designing their lives.
The first step may be joining a free course such as the YOU by Design masterclass. In it, we will discuss how to:
- Identify what is holding you back from living a joyful, abundant life you love
- Align your mindset with tools and strategies to take you from where you are to where you want to be
- Design your custom action plan to help you live life on your terms.
Are you ready to live a joyful, abundant life that’s purpose-filled and aligned? A life that’s free by design?