Personal Narrative & Why It’s Important

by LifeOfLo

It’s been about a week since I’ve added a new post and I’ve been thinking a lot about a topic we discussed in one of my counseling classes last week. I figured I might start a mindful Monday’s segment, where I talk about psychology, thoughts, ideas, and maybe even some tips! The theory I’ll be talking about today goes something like this:

Be careful about the stories that you attach to yourself

Be careful about the stories others attach to you

Because it will live you

What comes up for you when you read that? And no, that’s not a typo.

The stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves (otherwise known as our personal narrative) influences who we become. Think about it, the language we use to talk about things, including how we talk about ourselves or to ourselves is extremely important. It may seem like an outrageous idea, honestly what’s the difference between two words? I’ll let you in on some insight of my own.

I recently started working a new job in the mental health field (yay clinical experience!). One of the things we did during training were icebreakers (here comes the collective sigh and eye roll). We had to describe ourselves by saying a positive and negative trait. I was stumped and eventually decided on stubborn.

Most of my life I’ve been called stubborn throughout various scenarios. And we all know you don’t call someone stubborn in an endearing way. My trainer immediately challenged me. “Why do you call yourself stubborn, is it because you’re female? Would your male counterparts classify themselves more as persistent instead?” I paused. Why did I describe myself as stubborn? When I described the characteristics I possess that led me to the word stubborn I said that I’m very research based. When I read about something that has the evidence to back it up I hold my ground, when I know I’m right I don’t back down. All characteristics of being persistent right?

Notice how the two words sit differently with you, stubborn or persistent. Think about the people you would use those words to describe. They have different undertones to the same meaning right? Now, think about how you talk to yourself. If that’s too deep for you right now think about how you talk about yourself to others. That self-narrative or personal narrative is critical to self-esteem, relationship building, success in school and work, and any other aspect of your life.

Your reality is defined by the stories you tell (this would be your perceptions). If you’re noticing you tend to speak to yourself in a negative way try changing the words you use or rephrasing your thoughts. Eventually how you speak about yourself will effect how others speak about you. Thus, changing how they view you. Which, in turn, will change how you view yourself. Basically, how you talk about yourself will eventually become you. If you’re at all familiar with psychology terms think self-fulfilling prophecy.

So, lets start with today. Most of us dread or even hate Monday’s. Some of you may have a very challenging week ahead of you so I will leave you with my parting thought.

Monday in and of itself doesn’t suck, it’s just a day on the calendar. Your work might suck, your school project might suck, or you might have to do something you absolutely dread. Try and find little ways to make your Monday a little bit easier. Maybe go out to a favorite lunch spot only on Monday’s or bring in your favorite guilty pleasure to work (Monday cupcakes anyone?). And remember, you’re a unique individual with a life full of potential, you’ve got this!

With love,

Lo

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