#038: Change Your Story, Change Your Life [Podcast]

Inside your head and mine, there is a narrator. He or she is constantly telling us stories. These stories shape how we perceive reality.


Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/1001nights

In fact, if we don’t intervene, these stories can shape our destiny for the worse. Or, if we are intentional and take control of the narrative, these stories can shape our destiny for good.

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You can change your life by changing your story.  There are five ways you can take control of the narrative in your head.

  1. Recognize the voice in your head.
  2. Jot down what the voice is saying.
  3. Evaluate whether this story is empowering.
  4. Write down a different story.
  5. Start telling yourself the new story.

Listener Questions

  1. Jana Botkin asked, “How can I tell the difference between telling myself a story of delusional optimism and the truth?”
  2. Julie Sunne asked, “My inner narrator often take me in a million different directions. Can you offer some pointers for focusing our inner stories?”
  3. Mary DeMuth asked, “When you are living your story and continue to do the same thing over and over again, getting the same crummy result, how do you encourage yourself to think differently and stop doing that thing that’s not working?”
  4. Noah Coley asked, “What is your best advice for helping someone understand that they can be the authors of their own story rather than simply reacting to a story that’s been given to them?”
  5. Russ Hess asked, “Is there a practical way to refocus the meaning we associate with the various events of our lives to lead us to a greater sense of fulfillment?”
  6. Rob Ketterling asked “Why do you think we work so hard to avoid the change rather than make the change?”
  7. Bobby Warren asked, “How important is faith in changing your story?”

Special Announcements

  1. We have just opened membership to Platform University. This is a project I and my team have been working on for months.

    My book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, only scratched the surface. Platform University picks up where that left off and provides an opportunity to dive deeper, bringing you the insights and tools you need to build a platform that gets you, your brand, your cause noticed.

    The Early Bird special ends this week, so if you want to get in on the lowest possible price—for life!—visit PlatformUniversity.com

  2. We still have a few tickets left for the Platform Conference, which will be held here in Nashville on February 11–13, 2013—just about a month away.

    This conference is for anyone who wants to jump start their platform or take it to the next level. If you are an author, public speaker, blogger, recording artist, business owner, entrepreneur, sales person, mortgage broker, pastor, or corporate brand manager, this conference is for you!

    We have an incredible lineup of speakers, including:

    And, of course, yours truly.

  3. My next podcast will be on the topic of “The 7 Benefits of Keeping A Journal.” I will include my tips for doing keeping a journal, along with a couple of software recommendations. If you have a question on this subject, please leave me a voicemail message. This is a terrific way to cross-promote your blog or website, because I will link to it, just like I did with the callers in this episode.

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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Also, if you enjoyed the show, please rate it on iTunes and write a brief review. That would help tremendously in getting the word out! Thanks.

Question: What story do you want to change? How might this change your behavior and your outcome? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    We had a speaker at work a few years ago.  He said that if we want to change our lives that we should write a new script.  Great advice that I realized I needed to heed.  Thanks for the reminder.

  • annepeterson

    Absolutely LOVED this. So much truth about how to combat the lies. Sometimes they “feel” so true. That’s the problem. We’ve told ourselves they are true. And by rehearsing them over and over we decrease the chances of thinking maybe there is another way, another view.

    This message is going to change my life. Thank you so much.

  • http://imaginationsoup.net/ Melissa Taylor

    It’s hard initially to hear the story you’re narrating inside your head. But once you become aware of it, it’s the first step to choosing a different one — because for me, my narrative wasn’t true nor was it helpful to my life. My life coach, Alice Crider, calls it my coats of survival that my brain automatically goes to. She told me: The bad news is that you made it up. The good news is that you made it up. 

    It’s pretty amazing how we can transform once we become self-aware.

    Thanks for encouraging us always to be our best selves!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      True. I usually have no idea the narrative I’m retelling again and again. Good thing I have a husband who straight-up lets me know. Not always fun at the moment, but I’m glad he helps me catch the smack I talk to myself.

  • Kary de Kooker

    Hi Michael – 

    The story I have FOREVER believed about myself is that I CANNOT be a morning person.  I’ve always told people I’m good between 10 and 2 and what you get before or after can be great or questionable.

    This is a narrative I have believed and given power to since I can’t even remember and in 2013 I am determined to change this narrative and live into a TRUE story.

    I know I’m just a little 1/2 way through January… and I have had tough mornings already.  But I will persevere.  — I am so motivated and encouraged by people like those on The Biggest Loser and as I watch I find myself cheering them on, “Don’t give up!  Just keep at it!  You’ll be sooooo glad you did!”

    That’s the story and the voice I’m listening to now.  The other blessing is that each morning as I have gotten up God has met me no matter where I am with some form of encouragement.  And, because I’m being obedient to this (God has been calling me to this for some time) He finally has the opportunity to show Himself to me in ways He never could because I just wouldn’t get out of bed to give Him a little extra time.

    I look forward to updating you later this year to let you know how my story has changed.

    • http://twitter.com/Wernard Wernard

      Kary, I am exactly where you are, but man is it a struggle! I’m still not winning, but your story really inspired me to try harder….

  • Deborah Bateman

    Michael, thanks for sharing your broadcast. Thanks for the inspiration. I like the way you incorporate your faith into your business. May God bless you.
    Deborah H. Bateman-Author

  • Bruce Cross

    This podcast is RIGHT ON!  All that you talk about describes my journey over the past 15 or so years!   Thankful for people like you that have played a major part in my transformation and telling a new and wonderful story.  Having trouble posting my picture but would love to send you a JPG of something my graphic artist daugther did for me that sums it up quite nicely.  Not sure where to send it. 

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    The inner-voice has tremendous power.  Thanks for approaching this post with a bit of vulnerability regarding your life experience.  This one point, is why I try so hard to play positive audio and video throughout everyday.  I use it as a way to help me continually fight the fight over voice.  Definitely appreciate the points about writing it down word for word, and then rewriting your story.  

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Great idea with the positive audio/video. As my mama used to always say, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

  • http://theaddictionblog.com/ Noah Coley

    Great podcast Michael!  I especially liked Bobby Warren’s question about faith and its role on narrative.  I just wanted to add a unique element to the discussion  that people in faith communities get hung up on and that is free choice.  How have you dealt with either side of the aisle when it comes to Christians who are either pro-predestination or pro-free choice with their views on how faith and life (narrative)  collide?  I personally like to drive both parties to the middle, but I welcome the advice/perspective of you and any community members.   Thanks

    • thezsection

      Noah, thank you for your kind words. This is something I must contend with regularly. I believe in free will, yet God is sovereign. His will will be done. So, while we have choices, the consequences might be such that we freely choose to do God’s will. Might sound like a cop out, but I have difficulty envisioning a world where all of our choices are made for us ahead of time. God wants us to love Him because it is our choice, otherwise, we would just be robots. That’s my taken, any way, and I am sticking to it … for now.

  • JM

    Appreciate the advice – a lot of us out here struggling with unanticipated circumstances. I was laid off twice in 10 months, the latter after believing I was on a path that God had prepared for me, so now I really don’t know where to turn for new focus, meaning, relevance. Will give your suggestions a heart-felt try and believe in upcoming changes for the better!

  • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

    Thanks for fielding my question, Michael. I will be testing your suggestion over the next few months. 
    As I listened to your podcast, I realized I have been changing my story unintentionally as I’ve delved into my writing ministry. It’s the only way I could move forward, and it has taken quite some time to do just that.
    Bravo, for identifying this process–and sharing it!

  • http://www.brandongilliland.com/ Brandon Gilliland

    Sounds awesome!

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    Great show Michael. I’m happy to report that I’m living the story I always dreamed of living. Now it’s about continuing that story and adding to it :)

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  • http://twitter.com/russhess Russ Hess

    Thanks Michael for bringing this topic to light. I am deeply passionate about helping others recognize their true self to help improve their outlook. Sharing the process you described for writing a better story is a powerful tool for helping us gain our true perspective.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Russ. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  • Debbie Owen

    I think this idea about telling yourself a new story is crucial to making things happen when you are nervous or scared of a particular situation. In fact, I was trying to tell my teen-age son something similar to this not too long ago when he was telling me that he gets absolutely petrified at auditions and recitals (as a HS junior, he is thinking of being a music major in college and would need to audition for certain programs). He is totally fine and comfortable when he’s playing with his band onstage, but he feels as if he is being judged and evaluated (which he probably is) when it comes to recitals and auditions. Do you have any advice for someone in these sorts of situations?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your comment, Debbie. What your son is experiencing is normal. The good news is that he can shift his emotional state. Here’s how.

  • Nk44926

    This comment reference the set up blog in WP. I was able to set up WP blog site but need help with how to use/navigate. Any suggestions? I continue to enjoy your posts. Thanks. Nina

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You might check with Bluehost support or checkout one of the many guides to WordPress you can find online. (Google it.) Thanks.

  • Mark Modesti

    This was an excellent podcast. I hit the journal right after listening to it and started the process of evaluating some of the stories I’ve been telling myself. It occurs to me that their are always at least three stories going on – the one we tell ourselves, the one we tell others, and the true story that always runs independent of the other two. The ones we tell ourselves are not always helpful, but its always helpful to tell the true story.

    • Jim Martin

      I too have found my journal very useful for becoming aware and evaluating these stories.  Occasionally I will be journaling and it will occur to me that I am following a script in my head that really isn’t helpful or even true.  Thanks.

  • http://coffeehousepilgrim.wordpress.com/ Cody Alley

    Great podcast, Michael. My inner narrative is probably what’s held me back most in life.  I partially realized this in 2008–during my first year of marriage–when my new wife pointed out to me that I was extremely negative.  The way this manifested itself most was in a self-loathing that I had carried for as long as I could remember.

    We had just decided to attend Dave Ramsey’s FPU and the kit came with the audio CDs of the class. Instead of listening to music or just letting my brain walk down the well worn paths of self-hatred, I started listening to these CDs and I noticed that it was changing what I thought about. I was thinking about how to better ourselves rather than dwelling on how much I had screwed up or how badly I wanted something that I just couldn’t have (or so I thought). I then started listening to a lot of podcasts: The Dave Ramsey Show, Dan Miller’s 48 Days, and various sermons.  It really started to help me.

    I’m not out of the woods, yet. But I believe you point out some very practical tips on how I can change my story.  Truthfully, I’ve wanted other people to write that story because it can be hard work to figure that stuff out.  My day job, at the moment, is academic advising at a large university and I have students come to me all the time looking for me to tell them what they are all about. It seems that so many of us are out-of-touch with who we even are that we need to dig ourselves out of a ditch first before we can start building a positive, empowering narrative of our life. In fact, this reminds me very much of Don Miller’s “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.” I think I’ll revisit that book along the way!

    Thank you, Michael, for your ministry of leadership and encouragement.

    • Jim Martin

      Cody, thank you for sharing a part of your journey.  It is very encouraging to hear about your persistence and work as you journeyed through this.  Congratulations on great progress.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, Cody. Listening to positive audio programs, podcasts, and audio books has changed my thinking more than anything. Thanks.

  • Matthew

    I’ve heard this was good. What a cool way to think about your life. 

  • http://twitter.com/DeafMom Karen Putz

    What a great topic– thank you for the transcripts you always provide.  Being deaf, I so appreciate the access.  I especially resonated with this from Russ Hess:

    You mentioned changing your story is a way to change your life. For me, this
    really means to find the meaning you associate to your life and reassign those
    meanings to a better perception of the same outcome. Perhaps, it is more like reflecting on a moment of your life and then using a different outline than the one you’ve written. 

  • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

    Michael I appreciate your balance in this podcast. There are people who put too much emphasis on the way we think about ourselves and the stories we tell ourselves. We need to be positive yet honest with ourselves and that takes some skill to balance. I find that it can be very helpful to turn to a trusted friend and ask them about your story. Hearing your story from someone else as often helped bring me back to reality.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      And sometimes more than one friend. I’ve found that asking 2-3 really helps me to gain a more balanced, accurate perspective. 

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    Five great points.  My story used to tell me I was weak, bad, under attack.  I had believed the voices of anger and fear that followed me around since being a child victim of a cult.  It wasn’t until I took writing to a deeper and more serious level that I began to find the truth.  Writing has changed my story for good.  It’s now about hope, forgiveness, and mercy.  Sharing it with others makes it stronger yet.  I’ve discovered the secret.  And the great thing is that anybody can do it.

    • Jim Martin

      Dan, you make a good point here.  Changing your story and then sharing it with others really can make it even stronger.  

  • Sue

    This was so good! thanks so much for posting it.. I am sure it can be life changing if truly followed through on. You are a blessing!

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com/ Cyberquill

    I’m less worried about the narrative in my head, whose voice I can jot down, but about the hidden narrative behind the narrative, whose voice I cannot jot down because it’s subconscious. 

  • http://rickwolff.com Rick Wolff

    I have to take a different tack with advice you gave to Jana Botkin. I am a lover of truth. I insist on looking at it unflinchingly. The truth is, I have many examples of times where I’d get all charged up about something or other, only to wake up one day and wonder what I saw in it. I have quit a lot of things. That’s a fact.
    In my case, I find other approaches work in my head:
    • I fight fact with fact. I didn’t quit EVERYTHING. Some things were worth quitting, because either they truly were mediocre ideas, or I’m not ready to tackle them, or I’m not the one to do them. (Thinking of Seth Godin’s “The Dip” here.)
    • I entertain the possibility that facts only take me so far. I need to find something that works for me. Therefore, I will. That I don’t know what it is yet, or not fully, means nothing.
    • People in problem-ruts like this tend to think so similarly it’s almost funny. I am not the only one who feels like this about his life. If they can do it, and I have the same skills as them if not more, then I’ll succeed. 
    There it is. No delusions. Just the facts. That’s what will work for me. And probably for some other listeners too.

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  • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

    Helpful podcast, as usual! Thank you for answering my question about delusional optimism. 8-) I also appreciated your disclaimer that this isn’t just about “positive affirmations” or using hope as a strategy; instead you suggested some clear and practical steps. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       It was a great question, Jana. Thanks for asking it!

  • Debra

    one of your hearty advice, applicable in our daily experience if we want to live positively.

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    A negative narrative is such an energy drain. Of course, the more tired I am, the worse my narrative becomes. If I can identify it and turn it around, it not only changes my attitude but changes my energy. Worth it! Great podcast, Michael. One of my faves so far. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Michele. I appreciate your kind encouragement.

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  • http://www.jasonjnicholas.com/ Jason J Nicholas

    Fantastic podcast!  By starting with the end of our story first, the narrator in our head will have a some guidance on which story lines to craft to help us achieve the ending we want.

  • http://www.chaplainmike.com/ Mike Hansen

    Here’s a voice I heard while listening to the moment you shared you were a VP at 29 years old: “Of course he was. I’m 42, was never a VP and never will be. He’s smart. I’m not. Look at where he went with his career and where he’s made it. Since he’s that much smarter than I am, I’ll never be a Michael Hyatt.” And in a split second, all of that went through my mind.

    In order to change the voice and the subsequent message (I’m not smart), I really do have to tell myself I am. God has gifted me just like He’s gifted you. I have said, “Who says you’re not smart?”

    At least I need to know I have something to offer the world. If we don’t believe that, smart or not, we’ve already lost. I have to convince myself what I can accomplish is worth the effort and can help others.

    Thanks again!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Mike, this is so true. These are only stories. The key is to saturate your mind with the truth and build from there. Good for you for identifying the Narrator!

  • http://www.chipdizard.com/ Chip Dizard

    Stories are so important and a critical first step.   I was inspired by Jeff Goins and declared I am a writer and now I am ghostwriting my first ebook and writing my first ebook to be released later this fall.  I had a former boss that trashed my writing and my story was just like others, “I can’t write well, I can’t do this.” 

    Then recently I wrote a popular blog post about choosing yourself, and it was like a catharsis.  It set me free.  http://www.chipdizard.com/chose

    I am still reinventing myself, but listening to this podcast and others know that it can be attained.  

    One final thought, I have found that helping others find their voice will help you. I used to think that I am no best selling author how can I help anyone?  That’s another story that’s false.  I am not letting negative stories hold me back at all! 

    • Jim Martin

      Chip, thanks for this encouraging comment!  Congratulations on the positive  steps you’ve taken!  Not only are you writing your first e-book but you are ghost writing another.  That is huge.  Thanks!

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  • Michelle

    Well said! I agree, and it’s actually what I tell my clients that are trying to lose weight. They have to change what they believe about their weight, in order for them to make a lasting change.

    Michelle Foster

    • Jim Martin

      Michelle, thanks sharing with us how you apply this to your clients who are trying to lose weight.  Additional real world examples are helpful in grasping what Michael is stressing here.  Thanks!

  • http://christopherbattles.net/ Christopher Battles

    Thank you Michael. Seeing it as a story a story really does help. We can erase and rewrite and such. 

  • Logan

    Very helpful podcast! I started writing some new stories already. Thanks!

  • DavidBeumer

    Great Podcast Mr. Hyatt, I enjoy these lessons and insights so very much. My wife and I owned a business at a very young age, we were not successful however after realizing that there where many things taht we learned and that experience has been the catalyst and motivation for a new phase in our life. Trials and failures do not have to define you, its just a part of the foundation of a well rooted future. Thanks again !!!

    • Jim Martin

      David, you make a good point.  Sometimes, we will allow ourselves to be defined for decades by an incident or failure when we were very young.  Congratulations on moving ahead with your life and not allowing that chapter in your story to be the script for the rest of your life.

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  • Melinda Todd

    Thank you, this is so important and something I’ve been working on in some areas but realize that I NEED to do this in all areas! I so appreciate this podcast and your advice.