We all know that we talk to ourselves, often in a not very nice way! And that is a form of telling ourselves about ourselves that I have talked about before: remember that your inner voice would be far more useful if it were like your best friend, rather than the worst critic you can imagine!
And there are two less obvious ways in which we tell our story to ourselves:
- Through our everyday choices
- Through our personal external metaphors
Let’s start with our everyday choices. There was a famous advert that had the line: ‘Because you’re worth it!’ What do you tell yourself you’re worth, by the choices you make? This can be anything, from which of two possible dinners to have, to whether you go along with someone else’s plan even though it’s not really what you want to do. Do you deserve a bit of a rest, or do you push yourself on because you haven’t ‘earned’ it yet?
All day every day, you make choices that reflect how you value yourself, how you see yourself. Just notice how you confirm a story about who you are to yourself.
And the second way we constantly tell ourselves who we are, what we’re like, is through the things we have around us. These are our everyday metaphors for who we are.
Am I someone who conforms to fashion, or stands out from the crowd? Look at my clothes, my home décor. Am I someone who is bright and cheerful most of the time? Look at my colours, my photos. Am I someone who will take a risk? Look at my possessions that others may judge me by – what do I allow others to see about me?
What we have around us, what we wear, what we possess, all tell us unconsciously who we are, what we’re like. And this area of telling ourselves about ourselves is the easiest one to effect change in. We can decide to reflect a different facet of ourselves back to ourselves, just by changing some of our everyday metaphors.
For example, you could buy a brightly coloured throw or cushion to brighten yourself up; you could wear your favourite clothes more often, rather than the sensible or in fashion ones you have; you could put those ‘silly’ treasures you have from holidays or made by your children in the living room instead of hiding them away in your bedroom.
What would you like to tell yourself about yourself? And how can you symbolise it in the things you have around you? And if you don’t know, just look at some of the things in your living room and ask yourself: ‘ What does this tell me about me?’ If you like its message, put it in a more prominent place. If you would like to enhance its message, what might replace it, to give you a better reflection?
We all need to work on our inner critics, and the everyday choices we make; these are generally pretty engrained. And we can begin the process of telling ourselves a better story about ourselves by simply changing some of our external metaphors or symbols for who we are. It’s simple and it’s powerful.
So go and find one to improve right now – and I’m going to put on that sundress that I told myself was too youthful for me. Sod it! I love that dress!