Ep. 129: The Story of Your Past

    This week we're talking about the story that you have about yourself and your capabilities. There is a narrative that you have formed based on your past experiences. And, too often, we believe that this narrative is based on facts. It is not. Your brain has ignored a mountain of evidence to keep that narrative afloat. This self-concept is made up of just thoughts that you have about yourself. And the great news is that you can change those thoughts. This week, we talk about why it is imperative to do that and how to get started.
    Also, doors are only open for a couple more days for my goal-setting workshop. I would love to have you join. If you want to spend four weeks together and really take some time out of your life to dream and plan, then head to www.quitterclub.com/goals
    Follow Along For More:
    Show Transcript:
    Friends. Welcome to another episode. I am so excited to have you here before we jump in. I wanted to let you know that doors are only open for a couple more days for my goal-setting workshop. I would love to have you join. If you want to spend four weeks together and really take some time out of your life to plan and dream and look at the big picture and not get caught in the day-to-day hustle that leaves us kind of scrambling and then finding ourselves in the same place. Then I want you to go to a quitter club.com/goals. I'm so excited about all the people that are joining. It's going to be a really fun group. And I promise you that I will change the way that you think about goals and about how you approach them. That is no small promise my friends.
    So if you're interested, whether it's a business goal or just a life goal, or figuring out how to grow in one aspect of your life, I would love to have you join, go to www.quitterclub.com/goals. Okay. I am so excited about this topic because I think it's one of the most important, and I've wanted to talk about it for a while. I figured why not now at the end of the year because I think this is really important work to do. Before you go into any goal setting. Are you going to look at the next year? And it's about the story that you are telling yourself about yourself. Okay. So it's about the story that you have about yourself, about your capabilities, about the type of person you are. There is a narrative that you have formed based on your past experiences. And so often we act and believe that it's just facts, right?
    People relay it as if they're just telling you the weather like, Oh yeah, I'm just lazy. I'm just not that smart. I'm just not disciplined. I've never been good with numbers, whatever the sentence that you say about yourself, you act as though nobody would disagree. It's just the facts. And I'm here to tell you that you're wrong. A hundred percent. I can guarantee you that you are wrong. I go through this work a lot with my clients now, and it's amazing to me how they come and they just say it very straight face as if like, just brushing over like, Oh yeah. You know, I was just never really liked in high school. I don't really have a lot of friends. Um, I was never really that ambitious. And I'm always like, Whoa, Whoa, that's not a fact. That's just a thought you have about yourself.
    And after we do, honestly, the bare minimum of digging, we realize that that is a completely made-up story. And that they've ignored a mountain of evidence to the contrary because that is what our brains do. So we've talked a lot about this on the podcast before, but if you're new here, our brain has to filter the amount of evidence that we get. Okay. So we get, I don't know, hundreds of thousands of bits of data every single day and your brain focuses or takes in what you tell it is important, right? Whatever. We kind of direct our conscience to, it will remember. It'll start telling you, like, it'll give you that information. So if you've ever bought a new car or we're looking for a new car, and then all of a sudden you saw that car everywhere, right? That car didn't magically just appear.
    It was there because your brain is now paying attention to it. This same thing happens in every other aspect of our life too. When we tell our brain that something is important or that we believe something, or that there's something that kind of effects our life. Our brain will point that out constantly every single time. And so what happens is you've created some kind of narrative or it's built up over time. And every time there's evidence for that narrative, your brain will take a note, and then you'll ignore all of the counter-evidence. And so whatever you've told your brain is true about yourself, you will keep building the case for that until it starts seeming like, no, this is just facts, right? You don't know what you're talking about. Like, I really am just X and what I want you to do on this episode, the reason I want to talk to you about this is that it is so imperative to start questioning that story because what you are doing is you're basically arguing for your limitations.
    You're deciding what you can and can't do based on your past experience. And then you're saying like, this is just the way I am and I'm going to ignore all the evidence to the contrary. And I'm going to decide what I can and can't accomplish or what kind of life I can. And can't have based on this thing, not realizing that having that narrative kind of creates the self-fulfilling prophecy. So I'll talk about that in a minute, but I'll give you a very generalized example that we all do. Okay. I always hear people say, I'm not really that disciplined. I'm just not disciplined enough to go after my goals. Let's say, and I was laughed at because human beings are one of the most disciplined animals that have ever existed. Right? If you look at your day, most of your day is spent in routines and habits that you've developed that you stick to, right?
    You wake up, you brush your teeth, you get dressed and you get we'll work on time. Whether right now in COVID, that's hopping on a laptop or when it's going to work when you're driving. Yeah. You don't just swerve all over the place, right? You stay within the lines, you stop at the traffic stop sign. When you stop at the coffee shop to get your coffee, you stand in line and you wait your turn. Right? All of this stuff requires discipline. We're not like crazy toddlers running around doing whatever we want. We are extremely disciplined in probably 90% of our day. But what you have done is like, your brain tells you, well, we should work out, right? Like you've decided, well, I should be healthy, I guess like, that's all the rage. So even though maybe I don't actually want it, or I don't know why I want it or why I should pick this goal.
    I've decided I should work out after work every day. And then after work, I'm exhausted and I've already made a million decisions. You know, I've gone through this routine and I've stuck to all of my habits and I've done the 90% of things that I need to be doing. And so when I decided side, I just don't want to work out my brain. Oh, look, we're so undisciplined, look, look at us. We have no discipline. And then I can spend the rest of the night beating myself up and then kind of having more evidence for this idea that I'm not disciplined. Now. That is a very generalized example, but we all do this with whatever our own limiting belief about ourselves is. So I'm going to give you an example of my limiting belief. And this is work that I have been doing very deeply for on my own thoughts.
    And it's been so eye-opening and so interesting to me. And so I figured I would share. So my predominant story about myself is that I am very lazy. I want you to understand this is also the predominant story amongst my family, right? It's like a running joke in my family about how lazy I am and how little energy I have. And this has been the story from my childhood, right? I was like the child who was always slept in, I always wanted to take naps, literally all through my life. And so this becomes this like joke about, you know, my laziness anyways, literally until like a year and a half ago, or, I mean, even they have this last year, you could not tell me that that was a story like that was just facts. Like, this is just the way I am. Right. And it wasn't through my own work of thought work that I really started questioning why I hold onto this story so tightly.
    And I want you to understand the amount of information I had to ignore in order to hold on to that story. Okay. So just going through it, I have been a 4.0 student, my entire life through college. So I never got a B even in a class. Okay. I only got eight straight A's. I got into a top 10 law school. I had a job since I was 16. After law school, I got a job at a top 10 law firm. And then at a prestigious position with the federal public defenders, I regularly worked 60 to 80 hour weeks in my job. I often worked a hundred-hour week. I often worked 24 hours straight. I have now built two businesses from scratch. One that required me to learn manufacturing hardware, design software. I can go on and on, but I want you to understand this.
    I'm not saying this in any way to brag. I'm actually just baffled that this is the story that I and my family have about me, even though I clearly have enough energy to have accomplished all of that stuff, right. To have always been studious, to always get my work done, to have been a model employee, to have worked as many hours as was necessary to now have built a business while being part-time while taking care of my kids. And yes, there is evidence on the opposite side that I enjoy sleeping. Okay. I like sleeping. I used to love naps. The saddest thing of my life is that I actually can't take naps now. I'm not very athletic and or outdoorsy. Basically. If I have the option of doing nothing and doing something, oftentimes I'll choose nothing. I really love nothing more than like, you know, laying on a couch and reading or watching TV.
    So there is that side of it as well. And while the energy portion of it for a long time, I really was looking at like, physically, is there something wrong with me? Like, are my hormones out of whack? Am I lacking some kind of vitamin or mineral that makes me not have energy? What I have found when I stopped beating myself up for like 10 minutes and really evaluating how I react and really getting in touch with my own thoughts and my feelings. I started realizing that sleep is my stress response. Like as soon as I become stressed, I get tired. I don't get angry. I don't get anxious. I instantly just want to take a nap. Okay. So like that's how my body responds. And that is likely how it is responded throughout my whole life. And I think throughout the stress of school is probably why I wanted to sleep so much, but this all is just to show that I had crafted a very concrete story about myself.
    And from that story, I have limited so much of what I am capable of or what I thought I was capable of and what I could do now. I still pushed through and did things, but I did it reluctantly. And I did it saying like, even when I remember building these businesses, thinking, I know other people build businesses on the side or like when their kids are napping, but I'm too lazy to do that. I'm too tired to do that. I'm not going to be able to do that. Now. I still tried to do it in the back of my head. The story kept going, like, why are you even trying this? You're too tired to do this. You're too lazy to do this. And it was only through thought work and really working on my mind that I started really questioning like, is that true?
    Is it true that I'm too tired? Like, why do I always say that about myself? Like, it's amazing because I managed to run my life and be a normally functioning human and have, you know, a dinner party is when that was allowed during, without COVID and have children that I somehow seem to keep alive and all these other things. And yet I have this predominant story about how tired and lazy I am and it wasn't until I started questioning this, that I started realizing like, Oh, it's just a story. It's really just a story. And I promise you when I started questioning, it was when I started having so much more energy. Like once I stopped telling myself every day that I was so tired all the time, it was incredible how much more energy I had during the day to do my work. And I'm starting to see the same thing with my clients.
    A lot of times I'll talk to my clients and they'll say something like, Oh, you know, like in passing, like it has nothing to do with even what the work that we're doing, but it's like, I was never really liked in school. I wasn't very popular and I'll just start kind of questioning that and dig deeper. Like, what do you mean by that? And then we start realizing like, Oh no, they were really liked. And they had friends and this is just the story that they've been kind of telling themselves. And that story perpetuated them from like not ever putting themselves out there and not really pushing hard to kind of be seen and not letting other people who wanted to be friends with them, get close to them because they constantly were telling themselves that like, people don't really like me. I don't have a lot of friends.
    And so I just want you to start examining the story that you have about your past, whether it's that you're not smart enough to do something. You know, and I think a lot of us that came up in a traditional school system might've felt that way. And you're ignoring, I guarantee you tons of evidence of how smart you actually are and how you even navigated that system and how you navigated the rest of your life and all of the things that you have accomplished. And yet you hold onto this limitation that was placed on you by somebody else or by society. And the reason I think it's so important is because it really does dictate what you are or are not going to do, you know, that quote, whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right. It's by Henry Ford. And it's one of the most profound sentences ever, because I want you to think about this.
    Like, if you've already told yourself that you can't do something, then you will never even give it a shot. Right. You'll never even try. And so you've decided what is, and isn't possible for you based on a story that you have. And I promise you that you are ignoring tons of evidence of things to the contrary. I think that 2020 is actually a perfect year to kind of do this with, when you look back at 2020, right now, we're at the end of 2020. And if you ask people like, what would you say this was the year of, you know, like, how would you describe this year? Many people will say, this was the year from hell, right? This was the year of sadness or challenges or hardship or whatever the word is that they would use. But I would challenge you to think about another word that you could use to describe 2020, right?
    Or another way to describe it. Maybe it was the year where we all slowed down. It was the year where we really learned what was important in our lives. Maybe it was the year of change or the year of strength. Maybe it was a year of being crystal clear on your blessings. There's a lot of ways of looking at this year. And if you decide that you're only going to look at it as the year of hell or the year of heartbreak, then that's all you're going to remember from this year. But you can choose to see the other evidence and it will change the experience that you have going forward. And so before we go into 2021, and before we even talk about goals and goal setting and what you want, I want to make sure that you are not bringing along the baggage of this past story.
    I want you to sit and really reflect on what it is that you have told yourself that you can and can't do. And I want you to ask yourself if you were to give a title to your life, what would that title be? And I want you to ask yourself if it's true, right? If like the story or the title is just like the girl who was too lazy, or the girl who wasn't smart enough to ever make anything of herself or whatever the story is like, is it true? Is there any evidence to the contrary and make a list, make a list of all of the things that have happened or that you have done, or that you have survived or whatever that prove the opposite is true. And I promise you, you will be astounded. Now you can hold onto the story for as long as you want.
    It's yours to keep, if you want it, right. There's a saying, like, if you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them and ain't that the truth. Now you get to keep whatever you want. I just want you to examine it because here is the thing. So many of you are stuck in a place that you don't want to. And the number one thing people come to me for is because they can't figure out why that next step is. They think that it's just out there. I dunno, like buried under a rock somewhere. They're just going to discover this passion or what the right path should be. And obviously, you know, that's not the way that it works and that decision of what to do next is within you. But the problem is, is that you've already put the set of limitations on yourself already decided whether consciously or subconsciously what you are capable of or what is available to you for me, for instance, another story that I always had was that I don't have a creative bone in my body.
    I used to say that phrase endlessly, I had just decided that I wasn't creative and it didn't matter. In what context, like I was just going to stick that flag in the ground. Like this is me and uncreative person. And I look back now and I realize how much I cut myself off from, by saying that my deciding that by ignoring all the evidence of everything that I did, that was creative because maybe I wasn't creative in a traditional sense of like painting or singing or whatever. And so I want you to understand that if you are trying to decide what you should do for the rest of your life, if you are trying to decide what you're doing is to pursue what your passion is. You have to give yourself the opportunity of being able to pursue it, right? If you've already told yourself, I'm not smart enough to start a business, then you're not going to pick a dream of starting a business.
    Even if deep down, maybe that's the thing that you want. Maybe you really do want to work for yourself, but if you've already decided that that's not a possibility for you, it hurts too much to do I dream about that. So you're suppressing the dreams and the passions and all these things that you have because you've already decided what is, and isn't available to you. So in order to open up that world of possibility in order to be able to go into 20, 21 and properly set goals and really decide like, what is this dream? I'm going to go after a full on, you have to first understand what is the story you're telling about yourself? How is it that you are fully limiting yourself? Because when you take those limitations off and when you start realizing really there is no limit, you can do anything you want.
    As cliche as that sounds, anything is open to you, then it starts getting exciting. Then you start really thinking like, what is the life that I want to create over the next 10 years, five years? Like, what is the transformation that I want to have? And you can't do that without really taking a deep dive into some of these past stories. So I want you to take the time to think about it and prove to yourself that it's just a story and that it is not real. And that you are so much more that limitation that you've placed upon yourself. And if you need help with it, DM me and let me know. I would love to help you.
    I hope you guys have a wonderful rest of your week, especially going into the holidays. And I will be back with another episode. Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes. It'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at lessons from a quitter and on Twitter at Twitter podcasts, I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.