S1 E05 - The Power of StoryMar 22, 2021
Thoughts are constantly swirling around in our un-managed minds, causing mass chaos and we don’t even know it. Have you stopped to notice how powerful your brain is at telling a great story? Its so good that most of the time you fall for it and believe everything your brain tells you. You need to learn to notice and question the stories you think are true, if unchecked, these stories can be painful and hurt your relationships. The stories you tell yourself make a huge difference in your life every day, so lets start shifting them in your favour. Make sure you check out The Danger of a Single Story linked below, its so good!
What we discuss today on The Freedom Moms Podcast:
- The sentences/words going through our mind and why they matter
- How our brain is wired for story
- The danger of having one story, that we don’t question
- The first tool that I share with my clients to help start shifting those stories
I would be honored to be your coach and help you get the changes you want to see in your life. I have come so far, completely turned around my life and my relationships with my children, I know what it takes and how to make it happen. You can use the links below to get more of my content and learn about my monthly program By Design, where I provide monthly training and live coaching to help you build radical connection in your life.
Link to membership: By Design
Find me on the ‘gram: The.Parenting.Coach
My website: coachcrystal.ca
Find Brené Brown’s books: brenebrown.com
Ted talk on the power of story: The Danger of a Single Story
Video about thought dumps: The First Secret Every Mom Should Know
Read more on the blog: 2 posts… Power of Story and Shift Your Story
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hey, I'm Crystal, a certified life coach and mom of four. In this podcast, we combine radical connection and positive parenting theories with the How-To Life Coaching Tools and Mindset Work to completely transform our relationship with our children.
Join me on my journey, unleash your inner parenting expert, and become the mother you've always wanted to be. Make sure you subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast and rate this podcast on Apple, and check out my transformative monthly membership for moms in the show notes.
Episode 5, The Power of Story.
Having One Story vs. Having Different Stories
All right. So, I don't know if you guys are Brené Brown fans, but I totally am. I remember reading one of her books and I don't remember which one it was, because I've read pretty much all of them, I think, but one of them, she was talking about our story.
And she said, "We can have these stories about our lives that are kind of painful, they're kind of harmful, and they don't really feel very good, but we don't really question our story very often. We kind of are just like, 'Yep, this is true'."
So, we're just going to keep living from this and we don't ever change that story. There is a YouTube video that I watched on the power of just having one story; I think it's called The Danger of a Single Story. And she talks about how people having just one story about her, really changed her life and how they would really treat her differently if they just had this one story about her.
And so, how having different stories can change everything. So, by stories, I mean, thoughts in your mind. There are thoughts in your mind that you have over and over and over again until you kind of create you, web them together. Like, you're just weaving them together to form this web that becomes the story that seems very believable.
Three things you should know about story
So, I'm going to tell you three things, and then I'm going to leave you with one mindset strategy that I use all of the time with all of my clients and myself;
1. Thoughts are not facts
So, number #1, what I do is called Causal Coaching. And Causal Coaching, like I've said, gets to the root cause of what's going on; the root cause of what's going on in our lives and shifting that, all boils down to our thoughts. Thoughts are not facts. So, for instance, we could have a story that we're overweight, and we could think that that story is very true.
We could hold onto it like, you know, 'This is for sure, true – like I'm just telling you that I have blonde hair, and I have green eyes, and I'm overweight.' But what does overweight even mean? Who decides that you're overweight?
You could look at the Body Mass Index, but not even everybody believes in that or agrees that that's what healthy is – I certainly don't. There's several people that have different ideas of what overweight means. So, that's not a fact.
So, I'm going to tell you that a fact is something that everybody could agree on, right? So, if everybody is like, 'Yes, that's true.' So, an example of this could be the weather. I could look outside and say, "It's 70 degrees outside, Fahrenheit," or maybe, "It's 35 degrees Celsius," and that could be a fact.
But if I just say, "Oh, it's warm outside," that might not actually be a fact, right? That's just my perception. Somebody who moved from a super, super hot country might be like, 'It is freezing.' And if I moved from my cold country, because it's winter right now, and if I moved to somewhere hot, I may be like, 'Wow, this is like sweltering,' right? We all have different stories.
So, thoughts are not facts, that is number #1. It's important to question all of these things because I want you to think back of my example, if you believe that story, 'I'm overweight,' how is that going to feel? Maybe you're just going to walk around in life thinking, 'Oh, this is nothing I can change, I don't like my body, I don't like myself.' Right?
It's going to be adding all of this negative thinking to yourself because our brains are wired for story. What Brené Brown says is that our brain loves to make up stories, so it collects all of these seemingly unconnected things and weaves them together to a story.
But the problem is that there's always parts missing; as it weaves these little unconnected things into its story, it fills in the missing gaps. So, maybe it's weaving in these five little bits of evidence that it sees, but there's like 15 things that it misses and it just kind of fills those in. It's like a really bad AI, right?
It's just like connecting all of these disconnected things, computing it, da da, da, da – 'okay, this is your story now.' And we often don't question it, we just think, 'Okay, that sounds true so I'm just going to keep that story,' even if it's not serving us, even if it's harmful, even if it doesn't feel good. So, number #1, thoughts are not facts.
2. You are not your thoughts
Number #2, you are not your thoughts. I was listening to a podcast one time, and it was so good; I think it was on Oprah. Is it called Soul Sunday? Anyways, I can't remember. So, it was on Oprah, and she was interviewing somebody and he had the whole crowd close their eyes and he said, "I want you to think of a red triangle."
And then he had them close their eyes again, and he was like, "Now I want you to think of a moonlight, and now I want you to think of an oak tree, now I want you to think of a river.” And as soon as they were done, he was like, "Okay, what are your thoughts on that?"
And they were like, "I don't know, it was pretty easy, I thought of something and then I thought of something else." And he's like, "Do you feel like you're stuck as a red triangle now because you thought of a red triangle, like, was it really hard to think about something else – and now, are you just believing that you're a red triangle?"
And that's sometimes what we do, right? It sounds so silly when we disassociate ourselves like that, and we're like, 'Well, no, of course, I'm not a red triangle just because I had the thought of a triangle.' 'Okay. Well, what about the thought, you're not a good enough mom, you're doing a bad job, you're never going to get any better.' Right?
Those are the thoughts that come up with my clients and in my own mind because of the negativity bias; yet, we don't question them. We're like, 'Okay, sounds true.' 'Are you a red triangle?' No. 'Are you a good enough mom?' Yeah. You don't have to believe every thought that comes into your mind. You can question your story. You can question your thoughts.
You can start noticing like, 'Maybe this really isn't true, maybe this really isn't a fact, maybe it doesn't really serve me, maybe it doesn't feel very good, maybe it doesn't make my mind a very awesome place to hang out in, and maybe my best parenting moments are not coming from the story that I'm a terrible mom who's ruining my children or from the story that my children are disrespectful and I don't like being around them.' Right?
Those are thoughts that you might feel are very true and you might be like, 'But, no, Crystal, this one is true, I could give you all these reasons.' So, I want you to ask yourself, 'Is it a fact' – go back to number one – 'Is it a fact? Would everyone in the world agree? Is there another way to view your story?'
Because number #2 is, you are not your thoughts. Those thoughts just weave together to create this story that you're making mean something about you, but you don't have to.
3. Your story matters
Now, number #3 is your story matters. So, I want you to envision this one story that lots of my clients have and that I definitely had, 'I'm ruining my children'. So, if I'm thinking I'm ruining my children, probably going to feel pretty bummed during the day; maybe I feel some shame, maybe I feel some guilt, maybe I disconnect myself from them because I'm feeling that way – I try not to hang out with them that much, not on purpose, but this is just subconsciously happening. Right?
Maybe I'm going to scroll social media a little bit more. Maybe I'm going to go in my room and close the door and just watch a movie. Maybe I’m going to stay up late just thinking about things or watching TV so I don't have to think about things.
Maybe I'm going to be a little bit short with everybody around me, and not as focused on them – not really trying to connect with them because of this story that I have in my mind that I'm harming my children, I'm doing harm to them, right?
Another story could be, I'm not a good mom or I'm not good enough. That's just like a natural base human thought that everybody in the world has; well, not everybody.
The shame cycle
Brené Brown says either you feel shame or you're a sociopath. So, there you go. So, not everybody feels that way, but most people have this thought, 'I'm not good enough', and they're going to feel shame, right?
But parenting from shame looks like more yelling, more stress, more frustration, not connecting as well, either hiding and kind of disassociating yourself with them or when you're with them being a lot more stressed and not parenting in the way that you want. It's kind of this cycle that we get into ourselves, this shame cycle.
So, that's why our story matters. That's one kind of story you could have. Now, I want to flip it and give you another kind of story that you could have instead. What if your story was, 'I'm doing my best, I'm a good enough parent, I'm the right parent for these children,' I want you to think about how those stories feel instead.
Maybe now you're thinking, 'Okay, well, that story would feel pretty empowering – maybe I'd feel confident, maybe I'd just feel content or peaceful.' What kind of parenting do you think comes from those emotions? Emotions are like the fuel that's driving our car, that's driving where we go, that's driving our actions.
So, if the emotion that you're putting in now, that fuel in your car is now confidence or empowerment or peace or content: maybe you do spend a little bit more time connecting with them, maybe you aren't as quick to yell, maybe you make sure that you get a good night's rest, maybe you feed yourself healthy foods.
There's going to be a lot of different changes happening from those two different stories, and that is why your story matters. That's why it's important to question your story, to question your thoughts, and to get some way of doing regular mindset work because of the negativity bias that we talked about, our brains are wired for negativity. It's going to feed us negative thinking.
The Stormy First Draft
And if we don't have a tool to combat that negative thinking, our brain is going to be a very uncomfortable place to hang out in. We're not really going to like ourselves very much and not because that's true, but just because we're not questioning our stories. So, Brené Brown calls it your SFD.
And she says, "Just write out, throw all this tantrum stuff on paper, just write out all of your thinking and just say why you're so frustrated, why you're stressed, why everybody else is the problem, whatever you want to put down there. And then you just go back and you start asking yourself questions like; what story am I telling myself here? Maybe what story could my husband have about this? What story would my kids have about this? Is this the only way to view this story?"
Another thing you can do is just journal. Just writing down in a journal all of your thoughts can really help you clear out your thinking, and then you can just go back through it. And same thing, what stories are in this? They are just stories. Noticing that they're thoughts, that they're not all facts. There might be a couple facts in there, but most of what we're going to write down is thoughts.
The first tool that I share with my clients to help start shifting those stories: Thought Dump
So, I'm going to give you the main tool that I use myself. I try to use it every day; definitely don't do it every single day, but I try to use it every day. And it's the first tool that I teach all of my clients, and it's called the Thought Dump; and I teach it in three steps.
So, the metaphor here is, you're cleaning out a closet; so you go into clean your closet, and you notice that there's stuff everywhere – maybe there's toys, there's clothes, there's garbage – so, what do you do? You want to clean out the whole thing? You dump everything out into the floor. So, it's going to get a lot messier before it gets cleaner, right?
Three steps of a thought-dump
1. Write out all of your thoughts on paper
So, step one is dumping all of your thoughts out on paper. So, get a piece of paper, write it all out; don't worry, you can burn it later if you want. So, you're going to write all of your thoughts out on paper. The important part of this is you don't want to judge those thoughts.
You don't want to be thinking things like, 'Well, that's a silly thought', or 'I shouldn't think that way', or 'Maybe I should think differently'. That's not what we're trying to do here. That's not what step #1 is about. Step #1 is about writing down your primary thoughts; so, what naturally is just popping into your head.
So, this is kind of like sitting at the movie theater and watching the credits roll at the end of the movie theater, right? They just come up, we write it down – they come up, we write it down; that's what this is.
If you're struggling with what to write, you could just write until you have something to write about or you could focus your thoughts on something: a specific person in your life, like a specific child, a specific situation that happened – maybe a text that you received or words that your child said, or a tantrum that they had. That kind of helps kind of guide our mind sometimes when we're struggling with a Thought Dump.
So, number #1, take all of the clothes out of your closet, dump them on the floor. So, you're going to take all of the thoughts out of your mind and dump them out. I usually do this just for a couple of minutes, depending on how long I have, maybe 3 to 5 max.
2. Separate the thoughts from the facts
Number #2, you're going to separate the thoughts from the facts. So, you're going to underline all the facts; what's actually factual here, what could everybody agree upon? Everything else is a thought, and you're going to circle it. Then you're going to kind of let the facts go, because we're not going to worry about the facts.
In step three, we're only going to be focusing on the thoughts. Now, the important part of this is just to notice, thoughts are not facts, right? These are separate. This story is just a story, right? That's what number #2 is about.
So, number #2, it's just like we're taking those clothes now and we're sorting them into piles; these are clothes, this is garbage, this is toys. I don't even know what this pile is, right? We're just separating them out. So, we're going to sort out our thoughts from our facts.
3. Going back and questioning all of them
Number #3, and the most powerful part of this exercise – for me, at least – is going back and questioning all of them. So, if I was going back and questioning my clothes, I would go through my first pile of clothes and I would lift it up and be like, 'Okay, does this fit me? Do I like it? Is it broken? Is it old? Is it used? Is it even mine? Do I want to keep it?'
I'm literally going to ask those same questions about each of those thoughts. I'm going to go through the thoughts one by one and ask myself things like, 'Do I want to keep this? Does it feel good? Does it look good on me still? Is it broken or old or used? Is it maybe kind of a broken old thought that I just inherited from society or from my family or from whatever? Like, do I need to keep this? Does it feel good?'
So, that thought of like, 'I'm never going to be a good enough mom or I'm failing, I'm harming my kids' – does that feel good? Is it really true? Would everybody in the world agree? Is holding on to that clothing item or that thought going to help you create this new relationship that you want with your children?
Typically, the answer is, no, when it comes to the negative thoughts, right? Typically, we're going to be like, 'No, I really don't like that thought.' So, then we can even look for evidence of why it's not true.
So, what could be missing here? What's another way to view this story? What's my husband's story about this? What's my child's story about this? Is it even true? We're just like poking all these tiny, tiny little holes in it until, eventually, it'll just pop, right?
It's like we have this balloon, and we're just trying to poke a hole in this balloon; and we try it over and over again until it bursts. And that's how we can shift our story. So, I would suggest trying a Thought Dump, at least once this week, if not five or six or seven times, you can even throw out the paper afterwards.
- So, three steps of a Thought Dump are to write out all of your thoughts on paper, sort the thoughts from the facts, and then number #3 is to question them, question all of that thinking. Does it feel good? Do I want to keep it? Is it serving me? If it's not, then we can let those go.
All right. See you next week. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Make sure that you give it Five Stars on Apple, and check out my monthly membership for moms in the show notes.