I've lived with chronic pain of varying degrees since around the age of 26. While it's been a challenge, for a long time it was even more of a challenge because I had a very limited view in life. Part of that can be written off to being young and naive, part of it due to life's experiences, but there came a day when I said, "No more!"
That was just before I hit 40. I had been stuck in stinkin' thinkin' and had accepted the status quo for 14 years. I had adopted a 'woe is me' mindset. But when I hit 40 and found I couldn't even move around the backyard much to kick a soccer ball around with my daughter, I decided I wanted to live better. I wanted to have more energy with my kids before they moved out. I wanted to be healthy for myself, and for my family.
I wanted to feel alive.
I recently listened to a podcast on mental health, and part of the focus of that podcast was our internal conversations. It was about the narrative that we tell ourselves - the reality we create for ourselves through how we think. This is a great topic to discuss today in light of our mental health crisis. We may not be able to fix all the world's problems, but we can certainly work on ourselves to grow and be better humans, for our own benefit and for the benefit of those around us.
A growth mindset is highly related to the narrative we tell ourselves. Narrative refers to the way we frame the circumstances we experience, and our responses to them.
I intentionally changed my narrative. The first step for me was that I decided to move more, not only to lose weight, but as medicine for my arthritis and fibromyalgia. As I took a few more steps each day, it turned into a prayer walk, where I also embraced affirmations about myself. My narrative began to change.
Did I believe the affirmations at first?
Nope. Not by a long shot.
But the more I walked and repeated the affirmations, the better I began to feel about myself!
So here are five things I learned along the journey of my prayer walks:
1. Back then, I would have told you I don't have a creative bone in my body. Today, I'm living into my passion of encouraging other women through writing, speaking, and more. You couldn't have paid me enough to believe you if you had told me I could do such a thing! When you feel an "I don't" creeping in, flip it into an affirmation. I am creative, worthy, beautiful, gifted, courageous, etc. Repeat it until you believe it!
2. Back then I would have said I'm not knowledgable or experienced enough at such and such. Today there are so many amazing courses out there to learn and explore, without having to go back and commit to a new degree and thousands of dollars. The digital world has changed the landscape. There are opportunities galore just waiting for me to explore and discover!
3. Back then I would have told you I wasn't gifted. Now, I will share that we are all gifted in multiple ways. It's just a matter of exploring how you're gifted to figure out how your unique combination of gifts can be lived into the world. I am worthy of understanding myself and my gifts better, so my doing can flow from my being!
4. Back then I would have told you that life in general was exhausting and adding anything else to it was unimaginable. Today, I will share that through knowing how we're created and gifted, not only can our doing flow from our being, but it can do so in a way that can energize us, because then we're living more authentically and purposefully. By living into how I am created, I can be energized as I authentically live into my purpose!
5. Back then I would have said much of my time and experience had been wasted. Now I will share that our experiences are never wasted. A growth mindset allows us to learn and grow from those experiences. For instance, I learned I was too emotional for nursing school, but guess what, I'm EMPATHIC! Empathy is something that defines me and much of what I do now. I no longer berate myself for switching majors and "missing out" on a career that I wasn't emotionally prepared for. Rather, I am grateful for what the experience taught me. There are lessons to be learned from my experiences which can nourish my growth, sometimes in the most unexpected and profound ways.
When I hit 40 my narrative changed. Whatever age you're at right now, it doesn't matter. It's never too late! Nothing is wasted. One small and sustainable step at a time, how will you change your narrative? Share your thoughts in the comments below or reach out if you'd like to find out more about how life coaching can help you embrace these truths.