Hey, beautiful! Welcome back to Boldly Courageous, a podcast created for you — the ambitious woman who is ready to take action and step fully into the life you’ve always dreamed of. Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read today’s episode –– it means so much to me to have you here!
I’m recording this episode the Monday before the U.S. election, which means there’s a lot of energy flying around right now. It’s a stressful time for many of us! I’m taking this moment as an opportunity to pause and really reflect. For me, it’s a good time to take inventory –– and I keep coming back to this idea that every thought, belief, feeling, and story is rooted in choice.
As many Americans head out to make one of the biggest decisions of the year, I want to talk today about the stories we tell ourselves. I think it’s easy for us to spiral into a story or circumstance in which we feel like we don’t have a choice. But that’s not true –– and when you recognize that we do have the ability to choose what stories we tell ourselves, we can decide instead to tell stories that are empowering.
Facts Vs. Feelings and Stories
I want to give you a little background that I think will help you understand this perspective. In 2010, I attended an event called Landmark Forum, which is a three-day personal and professional development program. During the workshop, the seminar leader shared an exercise with us that really clarified things for me.
Basically, there are the facts of any situation that you are dealing with. Then there’s the story that you create around those facts. If you put five different people in a room together and share a fact with them about any given situation, each person would come up with a different story around that fact. These stories are all true; no one is wrong when it comes to the stories they make up. But they are all different.
Here’s an example to illustrate this point: Let’s say you’re in a relationship with someone. In the past, maybe you’ve been in relationships in which you’ve been lied to or cheated on. You may have some stories or trauma leftover from those damaging relationships around lack of trust. Your partner tells you they’re going out with friends, and they’ll call you at a specific time. But then you don’t hear from them for three or four hours.
The fact is just that your partner didn’t call when they said they were going to. But our brains immediately go into storytelling mode. You might create an entire story that they’re cheating on you, or that they left you. This is a story that you are CHOOSING to tell yourself.
In reality, the only thing that’s true is that this person hasn’t called. There could be dozens of reasons why your partner didn’t call when they said they would –– maybe they lost their phone, or maybe they’re out of service, or maybe they ran out of battery.
What Stories Are You Telling Yourself?
So often, we tell ourselves a certain story based on our past experiences. In my fake scenario, it was your experience with past partners that was causing you to immediately spiral into panic mode. Many of our stories serve to validate our feelings or any belief systems that we currently have. And, any time you can identify a story that’s coming from past behavior, it’s a sign that you need to examine the stories you’re telling yourself and the beliefs that you have created around those stories.
We tell ourselves tons of stories around money and careers –– two areas that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. If you have been listening to this podcast for a while, you’ll know that I had a MAJOR breakthrough in a conversation with Jenn Kennedy in a previous episode. What I’ve learned is that it’s not necessarily about how much money you make. It’s about how much money you keep and how you continue to grow your net worth. There are stories that we tell ourselves around money, debt, and income that are just so powerful. I was telling myself a certain story around money and success, but Jenn helped me reevaluate my beliefs and move into a more empowering mindset.
Babe, I’ll be real with you –– lately I’ve been going through an exercise of getting all my finances together. I’m bringing a CFO into my business to help me manage cash flow and really have a lot more clarity around money. Why? I’m really great at making money –– but I’m not so great at managing it.
I’ve been sitting in the process of putting all my numbers together, looking at what I’ve been spending on, learning where my cash is going, and getting some clarity into how much money is coming in and going out. What I’m realizing is at the end of the day, the numbers are just numbers. It’s our decision what story we create around our finances.
For me, I’ve learned that as I move forward in my business, it’s not necessarily about how much money you make. It’s about how much money you keep and how you continue to grow your net worth. Net worth is such a different story than income –– but for me, it’s more authentic, meaningful, and empowering.
How to Tell Stories That Empower
Let me give you another example. Say I told you that I had earned a hundred thousand dollars this year. You might create a story that says “Wow, Melissa’s so successful. She’s wealthy –– she’s better than me. I could never make a hundred thousand dollars.”
But what if I then told you that actually, I went to $150,000 into debt. The story changes a little bit, right? You might not be as impressed with my financial situation.
In reality, numbers are just numbers. Facts are facts. What’s important is the story we create around them. My invitation to you is to start asking yourself, “What’s a different story I could be telling myself? Can I come up with five or six different potential stories that would shift my perspective or my beliefs around this one particular fact?”
Let’s go back to the original imaginary scenario where your partner hasn’t called in a few hours. Instead of reacting by deleting this person from your Instagram or changing your status to single, can you think of a few stories around why they haven’t called you? Maybe their car broke down, or maybe they had a family emergency. Maybe they just got stuck at work late.
Anytime I find myself in a situation, whether it’s the election or a relationship situation or a business situation, I feel like the power of the pause is so essential. Take a moment to really sit and open your mind to all the possibilities. Before we start to get wrapped up in our stories, challenge yourself to ask, “What are the actual facts of the situation? What is a different story that I can tell myself around this fact? Can I just allow the fact to be fact and not even have an opinion on it?”
You Control the Narrative
Stories can either be empowering or disempowering, depending on which ones you choose to tell yourself. But at the end of the day, we can’t argue the facts. All we can do is choose the story that we choose.
I think that there’s an incredible opportunity here. We can gain power by taking a pause and considering the different stories that might contain more truth. That puts us in such a strong position in our careers, our relationships, and our lives.
I’ll leave you with this last thought: Whenever you’re in a moment to be able to observe and witness something that’s happening without attachment to an outcome one way or another is a really, really powerful way to decipher between the facts of any situation and the story that you’re choosing to create. See if you can find moments of stillness in the coming week –– which is sure to be a wild ride for anyone following the election.
I’m so grateful to you for listening to and reading this episode. I hope it sparked something big for you. I’ll continue to share with you as I go through this journey in confronting my mindset around money and financial management. I’d love to hear what stories you’re telling yourself –– and if you’ve found a way to interrupt those pre-loaded scripts from your past. Feel free to message me on Instagram (@themelissamartin) or tag me in your posts! I love hearing from you. And if you know someone who could learn from this message, please share this podcast episode –– it would mean a lot!
I’ll catch you later, babe. Until then, keep living your boldly courageous life!