“We are creatures who live by our stories.” ~ James Bryan Smith
For better or worse, stories shape who we are.
Not only the stories we read in books or view on screen, but those we listen to in our day-to-day interaction with others. I mean just regular conversation.
Even casually spoken words can become stories in our minds. Those that affirm and encourage shape us into positive people. Those that degrade and discourage shape us into negative ones. Unfortunately, it’s these that tend to linger on our mental audio tracks.
At least, they do for me. Why do I let this happen? Thing is, stories are wily things. They enter our psyches through the back door, neither knocking first nor asking permission.
Thankfully, because I saw what was happening, I’ve been able to change this.
And what a difference it’s made.
Now, whenever I’m feeling down or low or negative about stuff, I pause and ask myself, What story am I listening to? Whose voice and which words?
Almost always, it’s a lie (false words or a negative story) that I’ve accepted as truth.
On any given day when I think about writing my WIP, I’m might hear this story running through my head: You’re not really clever enough to pull this off. There are a thousand writers out there smarter, faster, and better resourced than you. They’re the ones who will succeed.
That’s the story I once heard framed in a few thoughtless words of an acquaintance. In my head I can recognize this for what it is, a lie. But in order to really change both my feelings and my behavior–my shape–I can’t just tell myself so. I have to actually replace the lie with truth, and for that I often turn to God’s Word. There I learn that I can do all things through God who gives me strength (Phil. 4:13), that I don’t need to worry about my own ability because my competence comes from Him (2 Cor. 3:5), and that everything is possible for she who believes (Mark 9:23).
That’s how the fear- and discouraged-shaped me gets reshaped into an optimistic, empowered one.
And which of those two shapes is more likely to tell you stories that, in turn, will shape you into the person you want to be?
For more on the topic of how stories shape us, check out this post on Michael Hyatt’s blog. And, in case you missed it, I had the privilege of guest appearing this week on Tamara Welch’s delightful blog, Traveling with T, where I am definitely feelin’ the love… 🙂