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This is What it Takes Podcast | Eps. 003 - The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Happy Monday and welcome back to the What it Takes Podcast. I am thrilled to have you join me this morning as we start your week with some thoughts and some joy and some intentions for what you want to  accomplish.

This week's episode

This week’s episode is all about the stories we tell ourselves. For example, the story I used to tell myself was that I wasn’t good enough for real love, that because of my old life and the things that I went through with foster care and not having a home for many, many years meant that I was defective some how. It didn’t help that I was surrounding myself with all the wrong people who would really stick it to me that I wasn’t good enough by not treating me properly, but we’ll get into why it’s important to surround yourself with the right people in a second. 

The ways our behaviour controls our reality

The stories that I was broken led to all kinds of poor behaviour where I just wasn’t treating myself properly and that literally meant that everyone around me wasn’t going to take me seriously either. In school as a kid, I pushed myself so hard to prove to everyone around me that I was smarter than they thought I could ever be. I mean a 97% was something I would beat myself up over for weeks and I would do everything I could to make up for it. I upped my vocabulary so that adults would say how bright I was. And I became really good at drawing so that people would gush over how talented I was. I would become a great storyteller so that people would say what a great actress I was going to be. I did everything and anything for the approval and validation of every single person around me, even strangers. When I hit that puberty age where I stopped being cute and nobody was telling me how great I was anymore, I hit an all time low and I felt like I was going into some kind of mild depression. I quickly learned that adults don’t gush over other adult abilities the way they did when I was a child. I still shake my head at why not to be honest. Personally I think we should be celebrated for the things we’re great at and pushed to do the things we are afraid to do. I stayed with what felt safe for so long. My thinking was that if I wasn’t good at it right away or it felt hard, it meant that I should try something different. How many of you listening have thought that? I literally kept myself from doing so many awesome things because of that one thought. It completely shaped my life. And not in a good way. 

Fixed mindset vs. growth mindset

This is called a fixed mindset and I learned through Carol Dweck how to push myself to have a growth mindset. Fixed mindset means that you believe you have qualities that cannot change. It means that you think that your talent in one area is enough to reach your goals and that no amount of improvement will help you because you’re born with a certain amount of skills and intelligence to help you succeed and that’s that so you’ll believe that you are good or bad at something because that’s where your skills lie, and you should stay in that framework. One of my foster mothers used to tell me to stop aiming for things outside my “class”. This is another example of thinking that you can’t have more than you have and staying stuck. You believe that you are really good at something or really bad at something and that skills needed can’t be learned to make you great. It’s super easy to give up on something that feels hard when you feel this way, and it’s equally difficult to hear feedback when it’s negative even if it’s useful. A growth mindset means that you believe that success will develop with time, effort and persistence. A person with a growth mindset loves challenges, and can climb over obstacles, seeing them as stepping stones, learns from the successes of others and sees criticism as a way to improve. A growth mindset person believes that the journey is in the process and they don’t attach themselves to the outcome, believing that they can achieve what they want to achieve.

How to make some bold moves and change our thinking

So how do you go from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset so that you can love yourself more, achieve more, find more peace in your life and show up for others in a really inspirational way? Here are some steps:

  1. Understand that your brain isn’t hard-wired to be one thing or another. Your brain changes all of the time and consistently all of your life. It doesn’t stop after childhood (which is a myth I heard as a kid so I thought it would be worth mentioning), and really, depending on what parts of the brain you’re using, you will develop stronger or weaker connections within the brain, but you are the captain of that ship, so you can direct your thoughts where you want to in order to grow or develop. Your cognitive abilities aren’t set in stone: you’re able to learn new things, challenge yourself, overcome obstacles and push yourself any old time you want.
  2. There are things that I still struggle with from time to time, like “it shouldn’t be that hard”, or “if it feels difficult, I’m probably not supposed to be doing it.” Things like that, which meant that I had to tackle those things directly and realize that anything worth having is worth working hard for. You have to read and learn and practice to learn a new skill: replacing habits that don’t serve you for ones that do. And you have to believe that with hard work and dedication that anything is possible. Setting yourself up for success like this is important. Remember that the way you choose to live your life in one area is likely the way you are in all areas, so why not step outside your comfort zone and put it to the test. If you want to learn a new language, buy the best program, schedule in time to learn, FIND SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS THAT LANGUAGE TO CONVERSE WITH, and practice daily with reading books in that language and listening to audio in that language. So many  of us leave out important steps so that we set ourselves up for success. It’s easy to say that learning a new language is hard if you leave out the part about finding someone to talk to in that new language or people to practice with right? In case you haven’t figured it out, that was me when I was trying to learn German. I studied and studied, but it was haphazard and then I didn’t have anyone to learn with or practice with and then now, I literally know one sentence that is asking “is that the pencil? No, that is not the pencil, that is the stool”. Haha it’s my party trick and everyone laughs but honestly, that is the way that I set myself up for failure. I didn’t think it through and I let myself be right about it being “impossible.”
  3. Criticism is another thing for people with fixed mindset. You don’t like it because you might not be able to separate your performance from your identity. You think that what you do is who you are, and as I mentioned above, I went through a heavy identity crisis when I wasn’t praised the way I was when I was a kid. As a kid, I was so hard on myself when I didn’t do as well as I thought I should and I believed that I wasn’t worthy unless I could make someone believe it. 
  4. Being challenged is a hard one, too. Challenging ourselves is hard when we believe that if it’s hard, we should stop. The inability to stretch ourselves beyond our ability is not an easy task, especially when the solution you came up with didn’t work and you think that you should move onto something else. I want you to stay in it and come up with different ways to look at the problem. Naturally different ways to come up with the solution will show itself. 
  5. Other people’s success. Ooooh this was a tough one mostly because I loved competition when I was younger but it wasn’t always healthy. If someone was faster than me when I ran track and field, they were the ones to beat and I would knock it out of the park just to beat them. But as adults when this happens, it’s basically because we don’t want them to have something we don’t believe we could have. We have to be able to sit in the joy of the other person’s success and understand that maybe they’ve been working at it longer or they’ve gone over and above what the typical person would do in order to have their dreams finally come to fruition. Knowing that you, too, can learn what you need to learn to have what you want is an exciting thing, so if you’re feeling pangs of jealousy, then it’s time to hit the meditation room and start breathing through it, doing a visualization of you getting what you want most in life. In that position, it’s best to take your feelings inward and process them through meditation or prayer. Putting it out there to the universe that you want to be more mindful, or present, or patient, or loving, less jealous, or judgemental and you want to be given the strength to persevere when it’s hard, to be tenacious and get back up when you fall down...these are all things to be proud of and they’re perfectly okay to ask for them and then you look for ways to put that to use, to practice those things until you feel inspired by your own growth. You will always see positive development if you stay at something long enough with the belief that you can do it. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of What it Takes and I cannot wait to hear everything you have to say! Head on over to my Facebook group that has been made exclusively for you. It’s called This is What It Takes Podcast Insider. See you there!

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