We tell ourselves pretty sucky stories sometimes, and we mistakenly think they don’t matter.
I know that too many of my days start with a story like this:
Once upon a time there was a Queen who had a magic mirror. Each morning she would ask the glimmering glass with a few toothpaste specks what it had to tell her, and it highlighted her lip wrinkles, her gray roots, and the bags under her eyes. It told her that she was too old and too tired.
She asked her magic mirror about the presentation she was giving that day, and the magic mirror told her that she’d better re-check her Powerpoint because there was a misspelled word on slide fourteen, and the last time she presented the crowd wasn’t laughing enough, so so she’d better practice some more.
I have a suggestion for that magic mirror . . .
Trash it. Throw it out a window. I’ve never done this with a mirror, but I have done it with at least three scales in my bathroom. Even though I almost took out a small squirrel outside my bathroom window, it felt good. I haven’t weighed myself in two years, but my clothes still fit and I don’t start my day with fury.
And the squirrels are safe.
I remember an article about a woman who didn’t look into a mirror for three months. She said in those three months her confidence grew as her concern about how she looked lessened. She put on minimal make-up and pulled her hair back in a ponytail. Ironically, people treated her better. Men opened doors for her.
All she wore was her confidence, and it seemed to beat Chanel and Lancome and Cover Girl all to pieces. Why? Because she stopped looking at her flaws; she became the heroine rather than the victim in her narrative.
Your brain needs better stories . . .
Research shows that a neurochemical called oxytocin is produced when we are trusted or shown a kindness. It motivates cooperation with others. A group at Harvard “hacked” the system to see if videos or stories could release the same chemical. They can.
This impact to the brain is why a movie like “The Lion King” propels people to let each other into the aisle once the movie is over. It’s also why people cut in front of each other after a “Fast and Furious” movie.
Stories aren’t just something we tell at bedtime to get our children to finally go to sleep. They form the on-going narrative of our lives.
You need confident stories . . .
Whatever it takes for you to tell a better story, do it. Perhaps mirrors aren’t your enemy; perhaps it’s that critical friend who whispers negative messages into your ear.
I wouldn’t recommend throwing your friend out your bathroom window, but I would suggest that you spend less time with him or her. Let that friend know that you are looking to write better stories about yourself, and he or she just doesn’t have the material you need.
The only thing standing between you and a confident life are the stories you are telling yourself. Pay attention to them.
I’m learning every single day, and tomorrow I might do a story cleanse.
So, if you come to my house, watch for things flying out my bathroom window.
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