Change Your Story, Change Your Life

When I was twenty-nine years old, I became vice president of marketing for Thomas Nelson. It was a huge step up in my career. At the time, I thought I had arrived at the pinnacle of success.

Someone Writing a Story - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/btoldi, Image #9548889

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/btoldi

But I was in over my head. Or at least that’s the way it felt. I was just waiting for other people to come to the same conclusion.

I struggled constantly with anxiety and fear—anxiety was the daytime version; fear was the nighttime version.

This manifest itself in my body in two embarrassing ways: First, I sweat profusely. Second, my hands were always cold—ice cold.

Before attending important meetings, I would wear two t-shirts, hoping that I wouldn’t sweat through both. I strategically selected my clothing, based on which colors would show the least amount of perspiration.

I would also step into the bathroom right before the meeting began, and frantically run hot water over my hands. I would then dry them vigorously, praying that they would warm up. I dreaded having to shake hands with anyone.

At some point, I realized that the problem was not in my body, but in my head. I was telling myself a bad story. Mine went like this:

You are too young for this job. Worse, you don’t have the experience. Who do you think you are fooling? It’s just a matter of time before everyone in the company sees it. When that happens, you will be out on the street—right where you should have been all along.

I would never say this out loud, of course. It was just the sound-track that was playing inside my head.

Things didn’t change until I became aware of the story and took control of the narrative. I started telling myself a different story.

I think almost every problem we experience can be traced back to the stories we tell ourselves. There may be a good reason for these stories, but in the end they produce bad outcomes.

It comes down to this: Change your story, change your life.

Let me suggest five ways to take control of the narrative in your head:

  1. Recognize the voice in your head. It doesn’t matter where it is coming from (your parents, a teacher, an abusive spouse); just recognize that it is happening.
  2. Jot down what the voice is saying.It might be something like:
    • “You’re too young.”
    • “You’re too old.”
    • “You’re uneducated.”
    • “You’re over-educated.”
    • “You don’t have enough experience.”
    • “You don’t have the right experience.”

    This could be literally anything. Listen carefully and write it down word-for-word.

  3. Evaluate whether this story is empowering. Is it enabling you to accomplish the outcomes you want or is it preventing you from doing so? Be honest. (Sometimes, people are addicted to their problems and the stories that create them.)
  4. Write down a different story. I’m not talking about a bunch of positive thinking mumbo jumbo. I am talking about telling yourself the truth. And often, this is simply a matter of shifting your perspective.
  5. Start telling yourself the new story. Every time your inner narrator begins telling the old yarn, stop him. Say, “No! That’s baloney. Here’s the truth.” Then repeat your new story.

Once I realize that this is what had happened to me, I crafted a new story. Mine went like this:

Yes, you are young. That gives you tremendous energy. You also don’t have a lot of experience, which is why it is easier for you to think outside the box. God has provided everything you need to be successful in this situation. Even if you fail, you will learn something from it. You can’t lose; you can only quit. And you most certainly are not a quitter!

This changed everything for me. It didn’t happen overnight, but more quickly than I expected. The physical symptoms gradually disappeared. Now, instead of focusing on the behavior I want to change, I focus on the story I am telling myself.

How do you think your behavior or outcomes are linked to the story you are telling yourself? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://twitter.com/leaderEx Sachin Kundu

    I am mesmerized, thanks for sharing :)

  • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

    Michael, I appreciate your honesty and transparency in sharing your life stories! 

    The experience you mentioned here is greatly identical to the trauma I went through years back.  God has gifted me with the ability to write lyrics, give music to it and sing it out. But I had just one problem: I used to shiver, literally, when I sang those beautiful songs! Even when I sang before my mother, it was the same. 

    I knew God’s hand was on me. But, at the same time, I had thoughts like “No, you can’t do that. You are so young. Others will mock you!” But, thank God, He delivered me from this wrong mindset (stronghold). He gave me the right mindset to fully lean on Jesus and to function by His grace and might. Now, as a teacher and coach, I am privileged to help many to be overcomers by taking control of what they allow their minds to dwell on!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing your story, Joe. Powerful! I am glad you are helping others.

    • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

      So glad God has done a mighty work in you!

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        Yes, He did!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Glad to hear God delivered you from that mindset. He is good.

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        I agree: God IS good!

  • Trina

    Wow!  I admire your honesty, Michael.  That had to be very cathartic just to share your fears with all your readers.  Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

    “I’m not talking about a bunch of positive thinking mumbo jumbo. I am talking about telling yourself the truth.”

    Michael, the first thing that pops into my mind when I read this post is Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live…”I am good enough, I am smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”

    Obviously, this is the positive thinking mumbo jumbo you are referring to above.  

    You go on to say you are talking about “telling yourself the truth.”  I think the best way I have found to do this is to go to Scripture.  Some of my favorites…

    I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. – Psalm 139:14

    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

    I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. – Psalm 27:13

    Though a thousand fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, the pestilence will not reach you. – Psalm 91:7

    Thanks for the reminder!

    • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

      I use these verses to counter my own negative self talk as well.  Nothing like listening to the Voice of Truth, rather than the accuser.

      • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

        You are exactly right, Kelly! I love that song as well…it captures this thought so well!

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        Amen!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep, I agree. I have memorized a lot of Scripture and often repeat it to myself in times of uncertainty.

    • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

      Chris,
      Love your scriptures, there is truth in the word.  Whenever I get down I like to remind myself that God is for me and quoting his truths helps to put things in perspective. 

       Jer 29:11 has been an inspiration for me for years.  

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      I have to admit the last few posts have brought scriptures to mind. That’s been a marvelous experience. Appreciate the verses you’ve shared here, Chris.–Tom

      • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

        Thanks Tom.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Thank you for sharing those verses Chris. I am going to take some time to meditate on them today.

      • http://www.christianfaithatwork.com Chris Patton

        Anytime Joe!

    • shantyjr

      amazing comment and specially Psalm 139…. all of it is pure energy for us that believe in Him…. thanks for sharing

  • http://www.timemanagementninja.com Craig Jarrow

    Great stuff, Michael.

    I find that one’s reality is often based on perspective and attitude.

    If you take the negative view and a negative attitude, that will be your reality.

    However, if you look on the bright side and bring your positive attitude… well, that can make all the difference. 

  • Anonymous

    Ha, I love the daytime and night time versions of fear and anxiety.  Mine are, of course, reversed.  I rewrote my dialogue a few years back.  It has made all the difference.

  • http://www.authorcynthiaherron.com Cynthia Herron

    Thanks so much for sharing, Michael! You’re to be admired–you actually verbalize what so many people think and dwell on internally.

    The power of positive thinking can make the world of difference!

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Thanks for the sharing and the transparency. We all have story-lines in our head that drive or limit our potential. Writing down what you want (vs what’s wrong), helps us move forward. I find that if I do it regularly – the big story-line and and the small ones – I keep making progress. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Alan. The key is actually writing it down. This helps settle it in our heart.

      • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

        Absolutely. And, writing down some small steps so that you can see yourself making progress on your commitment to yourself.  Thanks.  

  • http://twitter.com/ken_askew Ken Askew

    I opened an old box of papers some time ago and found a list of goals that I had taken time to write down. As I looked over the list I was surprised at how many of them had come to fruition. It confirmed in my mind the value of writing goals down. A thought committed to paper is much more likely to come to pass. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree. I read a book years ago called Write It Down, Make It Happen. The author argued this very post—there is power in committing our goals to writing.

  • http://www.nosuperheroes.com Chris Lautsbaugh

    It is part of the “cloud of witnesses” to hear these stories. I immediately thought of a co-worker and forwarded it to him. Thank you

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathan.chitty Nathan Harsh Brown Chitty

    An inspiring lesson this morning. Thank you.

  • David Thiel

    Michael,

    Very practical insights and recommendations. May I add two additional points:

    1. Truth – Like you I have experienced similar voices at various seasons in my life and I remind myself that I am a beloved child of God, nothing–e.g., circumstances, challenges, issues, success/failure, etc. — can change this foundational truth. This grounds me and reminds me that I can step out of my comfort zone.

    2. Perspective – I remind my self of where do I find my contentment…in the  Circumstances of Life…or in the Company of God.

    I appreciate your email blasts. I have recently been made aware of your webpage by a mutual friend.

    Thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, David. Good thoughts. And thank your friend for me.

    • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

      Good additions!  

  • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

    Satan tries that trick with me prior to every SINGLE speaking engagment I have.

    “who do you think you are?’
    “You don’t have anything to say that anyone needs to hear.”
    “God did not really call you to a speaking ministry.”

    And on it goes…..unless….I put Satan in his place by reminding him that I may not have anything to say that would be helpful to others, but God surely does and He chose me to be the broken vessel through whom He channels it.

    You are so right. So much of our behavior is predicated on our thought life.  Have you heard of the wonderful Bible study by Jennifer Rothschild entitled “Me, Myself & Lies: A Thought Closet Makeover?” It tackles this very topic and is so good.

    • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

      Leah, I struggle this same way.  I even go on to say, “After this one I will NEVER agree to speak again.”  But I am starting to counter the lies with scripture.  My last speaking engagement was Oct 15, and for the first time ever I was absolutely “God-fident.”  

      Keep speaking for Him! If the devil is trying to get you to stop, you clearly have something important to say!

      • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

        Thanks, Kelly. I, too, use Scripture to counter Satan’s lies. It is a wonderful feeling to know that I am armed with the ultimate weapon against Satan.  Love the ‘God-fident’.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        God-fident is a great term! Thanks for sharing it.

      • Kathy_ficek

        What a great word, God-fident!  I’ll use it when I speak to my womens group.

        Thanks for sharing

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have not, but I know Jennifer and really respect her. I’ll have to get a copy. Thanks!

  • Patricia W Hunter

    Thank you for this, Michael. I know this, but I’ve never taken the time to write those voices down so that I can rewrite them. I waste much too much creative time paralyzed by those unproductive voices. I can see where this exercise can help me move past them.  

    And thank you for your honesty and transparency.  

  • http://checkmatesystem.com Mary

    Thanks for sharing; it never occurred to me that strong successful leaders also battled these “stories”.   

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have spoken to leaders enough to know that all of them battle this kind of thing. The difference is in how they process them.

  • http://soulfari.blogspot.com/ Jay Cookingham

    What a powerful exciting exercise bro’! We also need to remember the great story we have been written into…God’s story. When we realize that we are HIS sons, HIS daughters, HIS people, personal edits become life changing. Thanks brother for the encouraging post.

  • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

    I wrote about this last week on my blog, http://www.chattykelly.com/2011/10/capturing-lies.html

    I call it capturing lies, and based it on the verse 2 Corin 10:5.  We must capture every thought, and listen to the Voice of Truth.

    Do you know the Casting Crowns song, “The Voice of Truth”? 
    “But the voice of truth tells me a different story
    And the voice of truth says “Do not be afraid!”A
    nd the voice of truth says “This is for My glory”
    Out of all the voices calling out to me
    I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth”

    I WILL choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth.  It makes a difference. Great post!

    • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

      Me, too, Kelly. I WILL choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth. Headed over to your site to check out your post.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing the link to our post and the Casting Crowns song. I need to get a copy.

      • Heather Scott

        AWESOME Song Michael….  listen to it on youtube now if you have a minute!          http://youtu.be/KwsvqVmFV6Y  Thank you for another great post…worth reading :-) 

      • Anonymous

        If you haven’t read Mark Hall’s book Lifestories for the backstories on Casting Crowns songs, you should.  The song “Voice of Truth” was originally called “Fear”, and relates to Hall’s struggles overcoming dyslexia and ADD.  His story fits in so well with this particular post.

    • Anonymous

      Love it!  Thanks for reminding me of the Casting Crowns song.

  • http://twitter.com/SabaiTechnology William Haynes

    Great post and well stated!  Thank you, as always, for sharing the lessons learned along the way.

  • Elysha

    I am assuming that the outward physical manifestations of your fears and anxieties also changed when you changed your story. Did anything else physically change?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, they did. My breathing, posture, facial expression, etc. also changed.

  • http://blog.simplifyforgood.com Matt Lossau

    Beautiful!  In my work with men, I have seen that EVERY man has these negative messages playing in their head.  The most common message is that “people are going to find out I’m a fraud, and don’t have what it takes to do this job.”  Recognizing those messages, and framing new–more accurate–messages is SO powerful!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. I have never met a man or woman who didn’t struggle at this level with fear.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pebbles.m.recio Pebbles Marie Recio

    THANK YOU,THAT ALL WHAT I NEED IT TO READ THIS MORNING,THIS IS ME!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pebbles.m.recio Pebbles Marie Recio

    THANK YOU,THAT ALL WHAT I NEED THIS MORNING,THANK YOU ,THANK YOU,THIS IS MY STORY IN COURSE…GOD BLESS YOU…

  • Mrstcr

    MIchael,
    Thanks for today’s post.  I’m a  long-time SAHM, homeschooling the last of our children — the oldest just turned 30 and the lone one at home is 15.  I run an internet-based business and  am full of “ideas” for other projects.  How often does “my story” in my head discourage me from developing them or presenting them to anyone else — after all,  I’m “older woman without ‘real-world’ business experience/training”, etc.  Thank you again for clearly expressing helpful, practical thoughts. 

  • http://www.sweetieberry.com Sweetie Berry

    Our stories have value when we recognize the truths of them. When we allow our fear to tell us who we are, it creates hard situations indeed.  What you have shared is so important, especially for our brightest and most articulate….as an educator of children with giftedness I saw this kind if rampant fear happen often for them AFTER accomplishing what it took to do something or be hired somewhere.  So often young gifted thinkers assimilate, but feel like a fraud in their position because they have not quite put together the awareness of the solid steps that got them there…hence the feelings of “faking it.”  You have many gifts, but I value the gift of honesty about your journey as one of your strongest…and your desire to keep learning and sharing the journey as you learn.  Bravo.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Sweetie. I would have given anything to have been taught this as a child.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    I used to tell myself that I could make it in life, that I’d always find a way and figure things out no matter what, a narrative that proved disastrous.  Of late, I’ve switched to telling myself that I’m a hopeless loser who’ll never accomplish anything in this world anyway. If your thesis about the impact of our stories on our lives is correct, reversing them should produce opposite results.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, indeed. If you want to change your life, you must change your story. It starts in your heart and in your head. Nothing else will change until that changes.

  • http://twitter.com/InvisiTech Kevin Pashuk

    Michael,

    Thanks for bringing this topic up. I’m sure everyone at the start of their career feels this, as well as many of us further on.  I’ve heard this described as “Impostor Syndrome”.

    I blogged about my experiences with it at http://bit.ly/pAI84y . 

    After blogging, I received a number of Tweets discussing a corollary to Impostor Syndrome, called the Dunning-Kruger effect which according to Wikipedia is:

    “a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to recognize their mistakes.”It is usually those who are competent that question their own competence.”

     I blogged about this at http://bit.ly/qytcOc

    In essence, we are our own worst enemy sometimes. 

    I love your use of story to overcome the inner resistance. Telling yourself the truth is the weapon to defeat this enemy.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for these additional distinctions. These are helpful. Thanks also for the links.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    I can really relate to your story, Michael. I’ve been through worrisome situations many times in my life. The really tough times are at night, when the filters come off. My mind can go really negative. Over the years, I’ve tried many things to quiet this destructive voice. For a long time, nothing seemed to work. Yet in the really dark days of the financial meltdown in 2008, something became apparent to me. My mind can only tell one story at a time. If I replace that bad story with another one, it goes away.

    I discovered this when I was writing my first book. Since it was fiction, my mind had to make up characters, places and actions. As long as I was imagining and writing my book in my head, my problems went away.

    Now when those negative thoughts come up, I imagine myself in a new business, doing amazing things. Basically living out an incredible life plan. The interesting thing is, the bigger the dreams, the easier it is to overcome the negative.

    If I wake up now in a negative funk, I just start imagining something really cool. If you train your mind to paint vivid pictures and have bold characters, your stories can come alive. This technique also works well sitting at the doctors office or other stressful place.

    The interesting thing with this technique is that some of my best writing came when I was really stressed out. My story and characters had to increase in intensity to overcome what was happening in real life. 

    If you have never written fiction before, give this a try next time you are worrying like crazy. It might just help you through…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great advice, John. Thanks.

  • http://www.kristyblogs.com/ Kristy K

    “God has provided everything you need to be successful in this situation.” I need to repeat this to myself every single day!

  • Jenny

    Today I found myself writing about anxiety and how one sentence helped me to move on.  It was the phrase “I think you can do this.”  Perhaps I’d benefit from adding a few lines after that phrase.   Thank you for showing me a more comprehensive picture!

  • Anonymous

    It seems the old familiar “As a man thinketh” just keeps showing up in our lives.  We all understand the principle but still have to take action to overcome those dark voices.

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    Positive self-talk is huge! It’s acknowledging God’s amazing creation.

  • http://rmabry.com Richard Mabry

    Mike, You’re describing what’s known as “the imposter syndrome”–waiting for someone to jump out from behind a bush and say, “I know who you really are, and you don’t deserve to be here.” It’s not an uncommon problem, although many people keep it hidden. Thanks for sharing your secrets for dealing with it.
    I have to  keep coming back to what the late Christian comedian, Grady Nutt, used to say: “I am me, and I am good, ’cause God don’t make no junk.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I loved Grady Nutt. I heard him speak a couple of times. He was awesome.
      Thanks also for describing The Impostor Syndrome.

    • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

      I’ve never heard of Grady Nutt, but I like that saying!  

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/about Ryan Hanley

    Michael… This is a great topic because so many people deal with these issues.  About three years ago I was dealing with similar demons in my insurance business.  I was 27 and just starting out and felt like no one wanted to buy insurance from someone so young.

    So I created my blog and used that forum as a palette to overcome the issues I had swirling around in my while marketing my business at the same time.

    Writing your fears down makes them tangible and conquerable…

    Thank you!

    Ryan H.

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

    I am convinced more than ever our self-talk influences who we bring to whatever circumstance we are in. I have used quick, private thought-pictures as both prayers and to help with self confidence and it has made a world of difference for me.

    I was asked to help with an ad hoc policy development group for our health system. It’s something I am still new at and wasn’t very comfortable doing. But going into the first meeting I said to myself, “You can contribute. You have insight to offer. God will help me.” And guess what? I did and was helpful and He did help me! It was a great lesson in just one circumstance that when applied to a life can be powerful!

    Thanks for sharing Mr. Hyatt and showing us some of yourself too. By the way, your thoughts on mentoring younger men are spot on. I view you as a man of growing influence for me, one who is fatherless-in this world anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gracefulrain Christi Brown

    Michael, your story just confirmed the exact issue I have been dealling with this last few years.  Just a couple of weeks ago while having my quiet time, God confirmed with me that he was guiding my path and I needed to learn that he has given me the authority to be successful in my job and ultimately my career.   

    Thanks for your post today!

  • Jplynch04

    Very interesting post.  Michael, did you struggle with acting the part?  Did you ever find yourself having to be more mature than perhaps you really were?  I often find people treating me different because of the position I am in and that makes me uncomfortable…a few rambling thoughts, but any insight?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I didn’t struggle with those exact problems, because I always hung out with people older than I. However, I think the same principles would apply. It all goes back to the story. Thanks.

  • http://gatehouse13.com Jacqui Gatehouse

    Excellent post Michael.  I think people often forget that the voice in their head is their own – it’s created by them and controlled by them.  So just as you suggest you can simply choose to think something else.  And yes, it really is that simple.  The only thing holding YOU back from achieving YOUR dreams is usually YOU! 

  • http://tomraines.wordpress.com Tom

    The writing down exactly what that little voice is saying is a great suggestion that I will do. I think the story becomes mumbo jumbo when we randomly select what to say based on someone elses suggestions or just greed. I will spend some time on this and thank you for your story! God has a story He wants to create in each of us and that is the voice I want to listen too!

  • Michelle Sarabia

    My favorite line is “God has provided everything you need to be successful in this situation.” I am in a new season of ministry and although I may not feel qualified at times, I know He has provided everything I need. Thank you for that reminder Michael!

  • http://emilysutherland.wordpress.com/ Emily Sutherland

    I am not glad that you had those fears and anxieties, but I am SO GLAD you were willing to share your battle with believing negative thoughts. Thank you.  

    I think the untruth I have the hardest time shaking is “success is selfish” and/or “people don’t want me to succeed.”  I have a great support system, yet still I fight with those messages every day.

  • Tracy Hoots Hoexter

    I just LOVE that you are so honest about your vulnerabilities! Makes us all feel better about ourselves. Thanks for this encouraging and wise post. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great. That was my goal. It is a relief to feel normal, isn’t it?

    • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

      I thought the same thing, Tracy.  So glad that we’re not alone in our struggles.

  • Loren Bruce

    I can really relate to this advice.  You are right on target.  – Loren

  • http://www.livewithflair.blogspot.com Live with Flair

    I love this, especially as it relates to memoir!  I’m teaching college students to think about their life experiences in terms of redemptive narratives not poisonous ones.  Even looking back into our own suffering or failure or disappointment, we can find a better story.  Joseph does this the best, I think, when he says, “God meant this for good.”  Thank you!! 

  • Julianna Wu

    Love love love this post!!

    Many people had communicated the same message, but not many were able to communicate the message as effectively and convincingly as you did! After reading your post, you have fully convinced me to remove the self-constructed mental picture of what I am capable of, but instead spin things to the positive ends. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Awesome. I am so glad! Thanks.

  • http://tomraines.wordpress.com Tom

    I know I already commented but I feel compelled to share that this concept and my story was one where I fell for the mumbo jumbo in my mid twenties and was amazed that some of the mumbo jumbo actually came true. However my spirit asked me where God was in all of that? Over four years ago as I sought to know God after admitting I was an alchoholic I felt the Spirit tell me all the self talk I ever needed was found in God’s word. It has been an empowering and incredible experience ever since then of just looking for His treasures of His promises of the “truth” as you shared it. This has become my passion and what brought me to the blogasphere. I so appreciate your desire to encourage us all with the truth of who we were created to be…sorry for length but you hit my purpose nerve today. Thanks Michael and many blessings!

  • Lori Deyoung

    Thanks Michael for your blog.  You never cease to amaze me with powerful, compelling stories that are life changing. I learned to change my story through a personal growth course I went through a few years back.  The exercise was to create new beliefs for myself.  I wrote the lies I tell myself (what the enemy wanted me to believe) in one column.  These were the fears and tapes in my head that kept me stuck.  And then I would write the new belief in the column next to it (the truth).  Then I found a scripture that backed up the truth and prayed over that and recited the scripture whenever the lie came into my mind.  For example, “you were not given the spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7.  This exercise changed my life.  I still use it today.   

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing your process. Excellent!

  • http://twitter.com/teitr teitr

    Thanks for sharing your story, Michael.  I learned this later in life, at nearly 60 years of age I heard a sermon about seeing ourselves as God sees us.  That made a world of difference for me.  I changed my story from ‘too fat, too insignificant, not enough job experience because I’ve been bringing up children of mine and others for much of my life.  I now see that as a valuable experience in a world where so many children aren’t loved, aren’t given strong, healthy values, etc.  God loves us as we are; fat, skinny, short, tall.  We each have significance in the fact that we are made in His image and He loves us so much that He sacrificed His son, Jesus Christ, for each and every one of us.  It’s given me  confidence I had earlier lacked.

  • http://twitter.com/teitr teitr

    Thanks for sharing your story, Michael.  I learned this later in life,
    at nearly 60 years of age I heard a sermon about seeing ourselves as God
    sees us.  That made a world of difference for me.  I changed my story
    from ‘too fat, too insignificant, not enough job experience because I’ve
    been bringing up children of mine and others for much of my life.  I
    now see that as a valuable experience in a world where so many children
    aren’t loved, aren’t given strong, healthy values, etc.  God loves us as
    we are; fat, skinny, short, tall.  We each have significance in the
    fact that we are made in His image and He loves us so much that He
    sacrificed His son, Jesus Christ, for each and every one of us.  It’s
    given me  confidence I had earlier lacked.

  • Rick Barry

    “If you think you can do a thing or that you cannot do a thing, in either case you are right.”

    – Henry Ford

  • http://www.tjeko.info/en Ferdi vdBergh

    wow Michael! I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now. Todays post was straight in my heart – and straight into my mind. 

    You where describing me! And, God be the glory, EVERY LINE DESCRIBES ME, including the postive twist your story takes!
    As my wife and I are trying to build a small fun-park for kids that never get the chance to be children, I often FELT (lol) way out of my leauge! With not much experience (neighter amusent park, nor Uganda) the stuff you write about is spot on!

    My wife often encourages me and seems much more ‘above the circumstances’ but I often felt not! Until TODAY- so help me GOD! 

    Thanks again!
    Ferdi van den Bergh

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing that, Ferdi. Listen to your wife! Mine has been a huge help.

      • http://www.tjeko.info/en Ferdi van den Bergh

        haha – yes – that would be smart :)
        She read it, and agrees.

  • http://eabussey.wordpress.com Scrappyscribe

    Just what my soul needed to hear this morning. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/dynamiceditor Kass

    Thank you for this post. I am a brand new entrepreneur who is struggling with “abusive voices” that are in my head. I have followed your step-by-step example and written (literally) a new story for myself that is true. I will read it regularly to combat the lies in my head.

    Again, thank you writing this. You have no idea how many lives you change with your posts.

  • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

    “Change your story, change your life” is the motto of the eating disorder support group I attend each week. As we share our struggles with using food to cope with difficult emotions, relationships, and events, we gently challenge each other’s stories: “Is this the objective Truth about _____? Or might this be a story you are telling yourself about _____?”

    For me, it’s been helpful to revisit certain “defining moments” in my past. When my best friend turned on me in junior high, she told others that she wasn’t losing me, she was throwing me away, “because that’s what you do with trash.” For decades, I re-told myself this story, allowing it to define me and my relationships.In “Same Life, New Story” (2011, Thomas Nelson) Jan Silvious says that “…writing a new story often requires a clear-eyed inspection of what we believe and why.” She points out that many of us make “a lifetime belief from one childhood experience” and allow others’ words “to become prophetic, destructive powers” that control our lives. Actual events matter far less than what I think about the events; what people say to me matters far less than what I say to myself about what they said. I’ve found that there’s a world of difference between “a defining moment” and “defining a moment” in order to move beyond it. In the former, a powerful event prevents me from changing. In the latter, I have the power to choose and to change.

    • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

      Thank you for sharing  your story. I too have had those childhood wounds and have had to revisit those defining moments, very painful but with the power of the Holy Spirit doable.  I love this insight. “I’ve found that there’s a world of difference between “a defining moment” and “defining a moment” in order to move beyond it. In the former, a powerful event prevents me from changing. In the latter, I have the power to choose and to change.”
      Yes, the whole point is to redefine the moment in order to move beyond it. We didn’t know better as children but now as adults we can make different choices. How encouraging!
      Thanks for sharing this!

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I really like this distinction between “a defining moment” and “defining a moment.” Powerful.

        • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

          Thank you, Sharon and Michael, for your affirmation!  Wasn’t sure if this distinction would make sense to anyone else, so I’m delighted that you both found it meaningful!  (I am often accused of splitting hairs…:-)

  • http://www.bartlewis.me Bart Lewis

    Great article! Here is another great article I read recently on the same subject. http://www.alistapart.com/articles/banishing-your-inner-critic/

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthewsbc Ben Matthews

    Great post Michael.  As I have advanced quickly in my professional career I have faced the same inward self-doubts and fear of failure you mention.  I have used a similar method for dealing with these feelings and would recommend two additional tips:

    1.  Once you have written down the positive story, record yourself saying it out loud then repeat it on a daily basis.  There’s something powerful about hearing your own voice speak positive words.  I have even gone a step further, combining the recording with classical (baroque) music to add a calming aspect.

    2.  Prior to entering key presentations or meetings, I say a quick prayer and consciously remind myself of how many times I, with God’s help, have successfully conquered a similar situation.  This is my method for getting the butterflies to fly in formation!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great advice, Ben. I like your additional steps.

    • Anonymous

      Ben, thanks for the idea about recording the positive story. I’m going to do that today!

  • Goudjinou koffi

    excuse my poor english i am a french speaker but it’s a goal for to speak english fairely well. I think by the GRACE of GOD i shall reach this.
    Thank my bro Mikael for this post. I have just be recruited in an audit firm like an audit team member but in front of the great responsabilty that’s mine it is you are saying there is a voice telling that I’m not enough talent or have not enough skill to assum. But I read your post I found encouragement thank U and God Blesss U

  • http://twitter.com/DailyWordMag Laura at Daily Word

    Thanks for a great post. I’ve used this strategy many times, yet I appreciate the reminder. In my background, we call this affirmations and denials. Affirming the truth (and most powerfully the capital T-Truth) and denying the error. Awareness of our story is key.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=718231499 Tim Jones

    Thanks Michael – an important piece related to our current fascination with story. Ah, the power of story! We are the stories we tell/hear/believe….

  • Anonymous

    Very good post, Michael! 

    I especially like your sentence, “I’m not talking about a bunch of positive thinking mumbo jumbo. I am talking about telling yourself the truth.”

    This is so very true, and so in keeping with the Word of God.  In the gospel of John, Jesus tells us that Satan is the father of lies, but that Jesus is the truth, “…and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Thomas_bolton2000

    Really good tips!  What a difference it makes to be intentional about this process, and to write it down!

  • Kat Jaibur

    Hi, Michael! First time visiting your blog, and I love this post. You threw me on #4, though. In my book, there is no such thing as “positive thinking mumbo jumbo.” That is something cynics came up with to feed and defend their negativity. And the example of what you told yourself — your new story — bears that out. It is 100% positive.  20 yrs ago I was an under-earner. I started learning and saying prosperity affirmations — and Bible verses that uplifted me. In the beginning, those affirmations felt like too much of a stretch to happen for me. But I was willing to re-train my thinking. And it worked. In six months, I doubled my income. In 12 months, I quadrupled it. That’s just one area of my life, and they have worked on EVERYthing.

    You seem to have quite a following, so I hope you will encourage your peeps to think positive and don’t worry about whether anyone else calls it mumbo jumbo or not. We are creating a field that invites in the blessings. Anything is possible if we believe.

    • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

      Wow! Thanks for sharing your story. That really helps me and encourages me to persist in changing my thinking in this area to dwell on the truth of God’s promises. Your story is fabulous!

      • Kat Jaibur

        Thanks, Sharon. One of my favorites is, “All things are working together for my good.” 

        Another: “I am open and receptive to the infinite blessings the universe (God) has in store for me.” I keep thinking about writing my own blog post about this. Maybe this is the nudge I needed. :-)

        • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

          Yes, Kat, you must write about it. I don’t see a link to your blog. Let me know when you do. info@15minutewriter.com

  • http://softwaresavvysub.info Savvy Subcontracting

    Love how this is worded.  So true.  Sometimes starting a new chapter let a lone book is so scary.  I need to hear it over and over.

  • http://golfwisdomlife.com Larry Galley

    Michael, this post touches a very personal chord that prompts me to suggest a Sixth Step in the scenario you have laid out.  I believe it is essential to do all that you have described and then, having discovered the new/true story for my life, I have to—Step Six—learn to “live in” to that new story/truth. It’s not enough to simply know the new story (and keep the old habits). It is imperative that my behaviors change to match the new story, just as your new attitudes and behaviors gave your life a whole new trajectory.

    Larry Galley

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great point, Larry. I agree.

  • B. A. Magbee

    Michael, your story really resonated with me. I remember similar experiences years ago. In fact, just yesterday I stepped back into to a V.P. for marketing role after being an operations V.P. for about eight years and an E.D. for ten years before that.  I grew up on marketing and communications work for my first eighteen years in the workforce, so I don’t have any reservations about that aspect any longer, but I well remember those days . . . painfully so . . . thanks for reminding me. It keeps one humble doesn’t it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=751105689 Zdravko Ćurić

    Thank your for this. God bless you. 

  • Kimfurd

    I never cease to be amazed at how God orchestrates EVERYTHING in our lives! EVERY detail!! Today, he has used your words to confirm His message to me in the midst of a VERY severe trial in my life (the end of a 22 year marriage). He is transforming my life with HIS TRUTH every moment! Thank you for encouraging me to listen to HIS truth and not the lies of the enemy! Our words and thoughts are powerful, and when we saturate our thoughts with God’s truth our lives will be transformed by the renewing of our minds!! How I praise HIM for your blog post today!!

  • CarolinaMama

    Thanks Mr. Hyatt.  I totally needed this today.  Love the truth in this story. 

  • Agsteward

    The older I get, the more true I believe this is. We tell ourselves all kinds of things, and we really don’t carefully listen. Very good post — also very difficult habit to break. I’m persuaded that changing the story often might call for a change in location and more than a few life-habits.  

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  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

    I’ve caught myself telling a strange story these past few years, but now I realize it’s not the best story to tell. While by no means am I a name-it-claim-it person, I have realized that all my words I’ve shared about our lack of money have somehow rewritten our story. I need to re-speak the story with a heart of faith, believing in God’s provision instead of lamenting.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing that, Mary.

  • http://building-his-body.blogspot.com/ Anne Lang Bundy

    Mike, as consistently helpful and motivational as your posts are, this one is destined endure as a favorite. There’s something about putting something in writing that forces confrontation and action. I see the power of writing down not only the new story to be reinforced, but also the story to be battled—especially effective when someone again attacks with the lies to be overcome. Thank you for a truth I already knew, put into a new form that I need to use.

  • Janean Reish

    I have understood the principle of a positive confession for a long time, but I never thought of writing down the negative thoughts to specifically identify them.  I just did that and now I can easily see how unfounded they are.  Now I will write a brand new narrative (and stick with it), and I know things are going to change.  Thanks so much!

  • Anonymous

    Michael – Just when I think you have written your best post, bang here comes one that is better.   You are spot on.  I write this for others to confirm your post.   I am in my 50’s and just now earnestly wrote my new story that I know is true.  And Michael’s last point is the critical one, it does not happen over night and that old self will pop-up at you, many times when you lest expect it.   Here is something that has helped  me when that old self pops-out, I think of it as the jack-in-the-box (not the fast food establishment) but that old creepy toy – that you would crank the handle on and make him pop-out.  Apply the same rules…. you have the power and control of the Spirit to put that old-self back in the box.

    It is going to pop-out… it part of the game, just slam it back in the box.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love the jack-in-the-box metaphor!

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    Thanks for sharing your experience, it helps to know I’m not the only one with internal dialog.  In the past few years I have been working on viewing challenges as just that, challenges and not mountains I cannot overcome.  I try to rephrase things in my head like the  example you provided.  Thanks for the encouragement! 
    Trying to get an agent for my book (get it published) seems daunting right now but it’s not impossible.  It is only impossible if I give up and I am not going to do that. 
    Like Thomas Edison said: 

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”

    and
    “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

  • Rob Sorbo

    This is exactly what I needed to read today. 

    I’m a very thorough person, so mistakes I make when I look over details are very hard for me to swallow–unfortunately I made a big one yesterday that I’m still trying to correct.

  • Pingback: Change Your Story, Change Your Life – Link » Dan In Focus()

  • Rabrooks1

    Thank you (again) for a wise and ‘just in time’ word.  Self doubt is an issue for me and your word was helpful.

  • http://www.mirandaochocki.com Miranda Ochocki

    I am twenty-five and in a position that I also feel I am not qualified for. This is exactly the kind of post I needed to read. I am suffering from the same feelings you did. Nice to know that you didn’t sink – you swam! 

  • http://www.hope101.net Lori Tracy Boruff

    This is a divine appointment today.  I’m being trained by a new employer and yesterday was horrible. I wanted to quit. Everything I said and did seemed stupid. I couldn’t process my thoughts when he’d ask me correct procedures. Part of me knows he’s on my side, teaching and guiding. But there was a part of me that felt stupid and like a failure.

    I needed to push through this so spent an hour in prayer this morning. I remembered the first time I ever felt stupid and afraid of answering a question. It was my very first day of  First Grade when Ms. Minteer called on me and my face turned red. The class made fun of me. From then on I spent more time afraid of being noticed and called on in class than learning and processing my thoughts. 

    But this morning, Jesus rewrote my story and healed my little girl heart. My confidence is in Christ which gives me understanding of my personality, purpose and power. He reminded me He wants me to be noticed because others will see Christ in me.  He reminded me even the bad things happen FOR us (not ‘to’ us) to move us into our God-given destiny.

    The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust in Him and He helps me. Psalm 28:7 NCV

    After that healing time in prayer I read today’s post which affirms His story in my heart…my new confident heart. Thanks Michael – you are loved!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Awesome story, Lori. Thanks for taking time to share it. Beautiful!

    • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

      Lori, how awesome that you were able to have your story rewritten and find healing! I can relate to the feeling stupid and feeling like a failure. An important authority figure in my life used to call me stupid when I’d make normal mistakes up as a young girl and teenager. I can identify with you in your pain. It’s been a life long challenge to allow Jesus to change my story and to change my thinking.
      I just wanted you to know I identify with you and I’m so glad you’ve found a new confidence.  You are right. God does redeem our bad situations to move us into our God given destiny. I’ve been able to identify with and help children and teens from abusive and poverty backgrounds because of what happened to me.
      Blessings on you. May you continue to grow in confidence. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • http://twitter.com/africanrains Michelle Nicholson

    Michael,
    Thanks so much for sharing stories like this.  It’s encouraging to know that even people that have seen success have struggled with those voices.  I am in the process of looking for a job.  i have been discouraged listening to those voices and need to change my story.  Thank you

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    The story I had told myself was that I was too young and inexperienced. It tries to play over and over in my head. I have been anxious and I would constantly put myself down. I would keep from speaking up or taking charge because I felt like everyone didn’t want to hear or follow a young guy like me. 
    I have begun to realize that I would not have been hired if they did not feel I could do the job. I have been fighting to tell myself a different story. I am going back to write down the story that has kept me from stepping up confidently. I skipped that and  I believe it will help tremendously. 

  • Sbrani

    Thank you for this powerful blog. In my work as a life coach I find that again and again people are living their lives following a false script. Your points when followed will lead one into Truth and oh what a difference that will make in one’s life. Strength comes from knowing the Power within just waiting to be released. I’m planning to share this with others.

  • ABlalock

    A most excellent insight.  This re-focus will help me and I assume millions of others.  Thanks Michael.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Mike, for sharing your story. It seems so simple, yet I never thought to write down the negative story I tell myself and replace it with a better one. I’m also going to use Ben’s idea and record it once finished.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Your post certainly reminds me of comments from earlier posts. The “change your story” was something that you shared yesterday. I remember “…take control of the narrative…” from another post because it was and is such good, sound counsel.

    Thanks for pulling those threads together in a practical way. Appreciate the honesty/transparency as well.

    Being centered in Jesus Christ and Scripture, as Chris Patton shares in his comment, helps me tell a much better story. It also makes me more comfortable with who I am and what I do. I’m gifted for “grace has been given as Christ apportioned it” (Eph. 4:7).

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    Like you said, it’s not just our behavior, but it’s physical too. I used to be so full of shame and fear, that I ate my way through life. I was 25 years old, weighing 335 lbs. I wouldn’t look people in the eye, or even let them hug me. The story I told myself was: worthless, ugly, stupid, etc. 

    Learning who we are in Christ is vitally important. 

    Thanks for your transparency. 

  • Tunstall

    Michael, Thank you for your inspiration, I fell that way a lot of times, We are in the process of starting a Sustainability Business to Clean up the Landfills, I have several Investors, and I feel the same way. I don’t sleep too well at night and I get anxious during the day. You story has inspired me to take control of my own self and my mind, and thank GOD through Christ JESUS for his guidance and direction. Again, Thank you for Sharing. 

  • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

    Wow! What a great post! I really appreciate your vulnerability in sharing about your fears and how you overcame them. Awesome! 
    You are so right we can change our stories. I had a situation where I survived a deep depression by changing my thinking and grabbing a hold of my thoughts to replace them with truth. In fact there are many adversities I’ve survived and overcome by changing my perspective. 
    When I am afraid now, I ask God to show me what lies I’m believing and to replace them with truth. Then I grab ahold of that truth and do my best to focus on it. It’s always a battle but one worth fighting.

    Thanks again for the great insight.

    Keep up the good writing!

  • Tunstall

    Sorry to everyone, and you Michael, I realized that I cannot type and spell…

  • Deanna Gibbons

    Thank you for sharing Michael! It’s great to know that a role model and mentor has at one time had the same voices running through his head.  I’m slowly rewriting my story as time goes by.

  • http://littlethingsbiggerlife.blogspot.com/ Beth S.

    I have often felt the same way. I am 24 years old, and the marketing director in one of the largest insurance agencies in the state. It can often be intimidating, and I’ve been working on the negative voice in my head, trying to change it into a positive. This post had perfect timing, and I appreciate the post.

  • Paula

    Michael, thank you for being honest with your own fears and sense of insecurity.  I’ve discovered when something truly important is happening, I usually feel cold and shiver.  Thought it was just me.  Time to figure out what I’ve been telling myself.  Thanks

  • Ron

    Thanks for this. I was feeling overwhelmed this morning and it was exactly what I needed.

  • http://www.hartlineliterary.com Diana Flegal

    Michael; Thank you for sharing your personal journey here. And for once again reminding us to remain positive. I just took the book Write it Down Make it Happen back to the library yesterday. You had recommended it before and I made a note of that :-)  I have already reaped benefits from reading it and have formed my own Seymour Group. I appreciate your encouragement and even though so many of us are at different places in our journeys, you cheerlead us on to push and dig for our best.  

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing your process of changing your thinking and thus, your story.  The end of your post made me think of Phil. 4:8  (thinking on whatever is true).

    For me, the first step is asking God to help me become aware of where my thinking has gone offtrack first before it can be corrected.

    Great post!

  • Shanagain

    Thank you so much for this post! I needed to hear this specific thing at this point in my career. I am to the point of wanting to quit. I think I will change this and see if things turn around. Thanks again!!

  • http://barrypearman.blogspot.com/ Barry Pearman

    I love a little formula I discovered from Jack Canfields The Success Principles. E+R=O where E is an Event, R is our Response and O is the Outcome. 

    I think it links in nicely with your post. You can’t change the Event that happens, but you can change your response to that event and therefore the Outcome. 

    Part of that response is the story or script that you have been telling yourself. Perhaps others have been telling you that story too, reinforcing your stinky thinking. Your response is your responsibility. 

    Time to turn the page and write a new story.

  • http://www.CrazyAboutChurch.com Charles Specht

    Great thoughts.  

    It is strange how people (like myself) become more encouraged when we hear about how others have struggled with similar things that we do almost daily.  I guess it is comforting to know that others are also in our boat..and so we’re not alone!  And how wonderful it is to hear about how they not only didn’t capsize but made it across the ocean.  Thanks Michael.

  • John Mayson

    Wow, I could’ve written this!  At 29 I found myself in upper management at the plant where I continue to work today (I’m 42).  Until this point my career involved me wearing jeans and t-shirts holed in a lab somewhere walking out like Moses with the Commandments when I was finished with a project.  Suddenly I found myself presenting to the CEO and getting blindsided by just about everyone in the room.

    Thankfully I was able to resume my previous job in the lab.  But over time I have developed the skills and confidence to go make stuff happen.  I have a job in mind I want in 10 years and have a plan to get there.  Rather than being shy I have no problem whatsoever to walk up to a VP, have a chat, and give him my 30 second elevator pitch of who I am and where I want to take the organization.

  • Karledmond

    Great post Michael. As a marriage and family therapist I often work with clients using narrative metaphors and specifically narrative therapeutic ideas first pioneered by Michael White and David Epston. They are very powerful tools for moving toward change. Thanks for giving of yourself here.

  • http://www.joekotvas.com Joe Kotvas

    This is a powerful principle. Thanks!

  • http://www.meeklabs.com meeklabs

    LOL, I must have too many voices in my head, sounds like a circus in here. 

    Anyway, it is an interesting insight.  Kind of goes along the lines that if I envision something hard enough it will happen.  If it were this easy, we’d have a lot of happy, truly rich people in the world, but we don’t. The power of positive feeling (thinking) is of course good to practice, and it helps our attitude, but it doesn’t really fix much (in my opinion anyway).

    We can’t go around thinking our world is going to crumble around us all the time of course, and a positive attitude goes a long way, but it still comes down to where, or more precisely, who, you put your faith in.

    Or maybe I just missed the whole point of your post somehow.

  • Tom F.

    Michael – Great stuff; balancing ‘mumbo jumbo’ with a proper reorientation of your thought processes is not always easily done and your entry here well-balances the too. I’m a 40-something working with much younger associates and it is tempting to attribute a setback to something other than the story I might tell myself (‘you’re too old for this type of work’ ‘they’re better with technology’, etc…). Thanks – Tom F.

  • http://www.betterhealthtoday.co Kay Wilson

    This one is a real winner!  We all have those voices saying the wrong things, we have to be aware of changing them.  Love this and going to share .

  • Heatherls

    Mike, you strike such a universal chord in your writing and courageous sharing.  This is leadership at it’s finest.

  • Eliseorban

    Thank you for today’s email. I usually save them to read when I have more time. Today I found the time and soaked in your message. I  am working on changing my story and will share yours with others!

  • http://natelaclaire.com/ Nate LaClaire

    Thank you for your honest sharing, Michael. This was a very helpful post for me.

  • Anonymous

    Did you actually write our your “new” story?  That would be a great exercise for all of us.

    Once, before beginning a new job, I didn’t sleep much the night before due to worry.  About two in the morning, I came across the first chapter of Joshua where God tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous”.  I fell asleep that night repeating that phrase over and over.  The job, though intentionally temporary, went well and was a great experience.

  • http://avajae.blogspot.com Ava Jae

    Brilliant post! It’s easy to forget that we really do define ourselves and set our own limitations–changing our mindset is the first step to changing reality. 

  • Jlstott

    This is so true!  Since I typically look on the humurous side of life it made me smile and laugh. 
    Once upon a time…my inner narrator used to tell me I was “too young” to be taken seriously.  Now several years later…this same inner narrator tries to tell me I am “too old”.  I am so glad I didn’t listen to her advice!

    I whole heartedly agree that we have to “write” our own story and override that nasty inner narrator.
    If you don’t like the story you are in…write a new one.

    Jeanne : )

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing this Michael.  After almost 20 years in para-church ministry, I made the jump 2 1/2 years ago to serving as a pastor. I drove myself (and my wife) crazy for the first six months, as the voice in my head kept saying, “you don’t have the right experience.”  My exasperated and dumbfounded wife kept encouraging me to tell myself the truth.  Great post.

  • http://twitter.com/thegospelwriter Wanza Leftwich, TGW

    This is an amazingly truthful post that I will apply to my life.

  • http://twitter.com/thegospelwriter Wanza Leftwich, TGW

    In the past year, I’ve noticed that the narrator in my head have become louder and more demanding — when I began  to live on purpose focusing on family and growing my business.  This is obviously NOT a coincidence! Thank you for this post.

  • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

    Wow, thank you for sharing this.  More people need to hear it…especially young leaders.  (I’ll do my best to share it!)

    At 31 I was hired to be the president of a division of a small company in an industry I knew nothing about, so I was both the youngest person and the least qualified.  I was scared half to death and asked the CEO to consider hiring me as a “director” or vp or “consultant”.  He said plainly, “That’s not the job.  I’m hiring a president.  Do you want it or not?”

    For years I felt like I was just faking it.  I just didn’t know anything that seemed to matter.  I knew to be nice to people and work hard.  Along the way, I also got married, had several kids, kept learning everything I could…and surviving.  No huge professional home runs, no IPOs or big house…I just kept getting up to bat, trying to get on base.

    Then a friend from business school said something that completely re-wrote my story.  He said, “It must be awesome to be you.” 

    What???  I had no idea what to say.  I just instantly got a huge flash of perspective…challenging job, opportunities to create, amazing wife, amazing children, friends…health…a growing faith…what in the heck have I been so worried about?  (I just said thank you.)

    But to this day, I haven’t actually written that story.  I’ll do it.  Thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love your friend’s response!

  • mimi

    Hi Michael,
    Thank you for sharing your story.  It has lifted my spirits and I now want to tell a new story for myself. 

    I can totally relate to your daytime and nighttime issues (we must have caught the same disease: the old story) My story is harassment from my employer that is ongoing. I tell myself it will stop, all the while knowing it is not.  I keep asking myself, “what am I doing wrong?”  I guess it is because I am private and don’t tell my business.  That seems to be the culture at work.

    I don’t intend to start telling my business and will tell myself that “you are doing nothing wrong,” for starters. I am going to put into action your five ways to take control of the narrative head. 
    Wish me luck!

  • Rebeccab1969

    Thank you I needed to hear that –again.  I have a degree in psychology and tell my friends that all the time.

  • Chad Jackson

    Tremendous!  Thanks for your transparency.  We all go through stages in our life where we doubt our own abilities.  One thing that has helped me tremendously is relying on God in every moment of the day.  That is exactly where he wants us.  Think about the great men and women of the Bible.  They had great deficiencies but God sustained and you could see His power be relied on and trusted.  That is why they are a part of “The Story” of the Bible.  I want to have one of those stories. 

  • Kathy_ficek

    My story is your to old, to fat, to uneducated all you have is life experiences. ( That in its self is and education you don’t get in school.  God is faithful and your message has helped me to change my story .  I’m not old I’m experienced, my beauty comes from with in, Jesus is my teacher and you can’t beat his lessons.

  • Homemaking911

    This reminds me of the song, “Voice of Truth” that was popular a few years back. Reminding yourself about the truth from God’s word was one of the ways I became a better wife, mother, and CEO. Great article!

  • http://twitter.com/jamespinnick7 James Pinnick

    I have to have faith that I can keep my confidence in everything I do. My mind plays tricks on me. I need to rely more on Him than myself.

    Nice post!

    James
    Author-The Last Seven Pages
    http://www.jamespinnick.com

  • Tony Dye

    Oh my! I also sweat profusely, think about what to wear so that won’t be a problem, and yes, my hands are a bit cold, too. I’m highly curious – did this change with your new story?

    The rest of the post was great — I’m not ignoring it. Just amazed by the physical characteristics we share.  Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, absolutely it did. My hands occasionally get cold, but I accept that is part of my body’s way of preparing me to perform at my peak level.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1577474616 Maletha Mobley Propst

    Thanks for sharing Michael. Is there a way to share your post by email with others? I’ve been copying and pasting in order to share through email. I know there has to be an easier way. I stumbled across your site by accident a few weeks ago by googling “guarding your heart” and I came across a blog you did on “Three Reasons Why You Must Guard Your Heart”. Needless to say, it spoke to my heart. Thank you for keeping it real.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The easiest way is to subscribe by email. This way you get it delivered in your inbox and can forward it to whomever you wish.

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  • Anonymous

    This is such a great post. I think the results or lack of results we see directly correlate with our thinking and thought life. If we think we can succeed no matter our age(young or old) or don’t believe we can, those thoughts will manifest into action/results. 

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  • Damilola Okuneye

    Wow! So true and helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Linda Kennedy Gma

    Well..God provided this in a timely manner. I’ve just attended a Voice Over workshop and boy was I excited. I already knew God had given me this talent. I’ve used it numerous times in church programs. I came hope, equipped with all the information I needed to begin making an income. (At 69, I’m starting over). Then “reality” set in. I have to make contacts and accumulate clients. My stomach began to swirl and dread loomed over me. I recognized what was going on…but I thought that was my exclusive problem. I’d already started praying for God to give me the courage. Thanks for giving me a tool to combat my demons.

  • http://www.resumewonders.com Kris Plantrich

    I think we all have that negative conversation rolling through our minds about something in our lives.  What a great way to stop the chatter and turn the talk into a positive and helpful message! Something I’ll put to use with my clients and myself.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Michael, I feel as if this post could have been written directly to myself. Often, I hear the voice inside my head telling me that I’m not good enough at my job, in my marriage, etc…

    It definitely has a negative affect on my actions. I retreat into solitude, refuse to speak up, and other negative manifestations.

    It has improved and it does not happen as often, but I still hear the voices.

  • Edlee Mixon

    Michael,  thank you for opening the closet door to your past  and allowing your readers to see the skeletal debris of fear.  God gave you victory, and your story continues to change lives and families.  Gratefully appreciative.

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  • http://twitter.com/thegospelwriter Wanza Leftwich, TGW

    Ok…so I did it. I wrote down what the voice in my head was saying. I got it out. It hurt to write it down. My eyes watered but not tears were shed. I felt relief to let it go. Yes, once I wrote it on paper I felt a weight lift – like I confronted an enemy. Then I wrote down my new story. Peace began to settle over me. This is my life. The real life that I was meant to live and will live. Thank you, Michael. You are changing lives.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is awesome to hear. Thanks so much!

  • Leah

    Someone else who can relate very well with your experience! Thank you for this.

    I have thought about the story I tell myself, but it is so automatic, that it often happens without me being aware. Your suggestion to write it down and then write down a new story is very helpful. I think that is what I need to do.

    Jennifer Rothschild has already been mentioned for a Bible study, but I found her book, *Self Talk, Soul Talk* to be very helpful as I was trying to get clear about negative talk, positive self-talk and using scripture. For a while, I was part of a church that taught about affirmations and “name it and claim it.” When I became convinced that was error, I wanted to be very careful to not do that and ended up reverting to negative talk. Her book clarified the issue for me.  Memorizing scripture is hard at my age, but important to me.

    And as someone who just recently found the book, *The Highly Sensitive Person,* I was helped by that author’s idea of reframing. Reframing is looking at my past reactions in light of my new understanding that it is not a weakness, but that my brain works differently. 

    Okay, off to capture the stories in my head, write them down and make a new story! Thanks again.

  • Stephanie @ KickAssWife.com

    My story change is thinking that I am not educated enough. I have an associates in Music, but would like to finish my bachelors in Business.

    Until then, I can learn what I need to outside a school setting. And experience and knowledge is more valuable than anything else!

  • http://timestarvd.com Paul J Gardner

    One of my favorite teachers, Og Mandino, has been trying to teach me a similar lesson for nearly 30 years, with The God Memorandum, part of his book The Greatest Miracle in the World.  It’s a memo from God to you, reminding you that You are the greatest miracle in the world.  If you can’t yet get yourself to re-write your own story, reading Og’s message from God might be the next best thing.  PS – I love “wpetticrew’s” earlier comment on the jack-in-the-box metaphor.  I re-read The God Memorandum anytime my old self re-emerges… now I’ll always picture it as a way to “just slam it back in the box.” 

  • Micah H

    Thank you very much for sharing this! It’s exactly what I needed to hear at this point in my life. God is good!

  • http://www.angelashelton.com Angela Shelton

    Oh so true!!   I went from being a self-hater after years of abuse to totally rewiring neuro pathways.  Wrote a workbook for therapists too – http://angelashelton.com/be-your-own-hero 

    Thank you for sharing!  It’s time more people rewrote their stories and stopped the cycle of abuse.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Love it. This looks great!

      • http://www.angelashelton.com Angela Shelton

        I can email you a copy.  A lot of therapists, support groups and church groups use it.  It has help stop a lot of self abuse and self hatred!  I’m off to your contact page.  So thankful for Twitter – which is how I discovered you!  

  • Jimmy Eldridge

    I struggle with this same thing daily….and more than once it has sabotaged everything I have been trying to accomplish….from business to ministry to my personal relationships. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Anonymous

    Very insightful but above all very true. It’s just incredible that I come across this at this very moment. Thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    Each of your bulleted points sounded like a hammer ripping out a nail from coffin. I’ve been trapped in it for too long. I don’t think I’m being melodramatic either — because the voices are dangerous and suffocating.

    And your metaphor was my first breath of fresh air. Understanding the voices as part of my narrative is empowering. I hold the pen and can craft my own story. While God is my co-author, I still hold the responsibility of focusing on my story. This goes deeper than just focusing on my behavior, deeper than, as you say, the “positive thinking mumbo jumbo.”

    I have ears.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good. I am glad you are listening!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Very informative and enlightening. (Thanks for writing such wonderful posts).  I just needed this reminder this day. 

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      As did I.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        You are welcome Jeff

        Subject: [mhyatt] Re: Change Your Story, Change Your Life

  • Wayne Hedlund

    Great article! I’ll be sharing this with my contacts. Unfortunately, many people in ministry (and life) feel so inadequate. The purposes and calling of God on our lives is just one story away . . . .

  • http://twitter.com/RepEliseHall Elise Hall

    Thanks for sharing these words of encouragement.  As someone who is often told that I am “too young”, I am encouraged to hear stories of other people who have similar stories. 

  • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

    Many people just do not realize that much of our story  we write ourselves.  I know many people who think they are powerless and someone else is writing their story.  What great advice to readers to write a new story – and hence – a new life.   Several years ago, I wrote a new story for my own life (a life plan) – then a vision and set priorities.  Of course, my coach, Tim Enochs, from Building Champions has helped me greatly in this regard.  But great post and great advice! 

  • http://twitter.com/davidmdye David M. Dye

    Michael, 

    This sure does resonate. Thanks for sharing a reality we so often mask! There is a great book out on the subject right now: Redirect – by Timothy Wilson. A scientific look at the power of changing that story.

    Thanks again,

    David

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. I just bought the Kindle edition of this book. It looks fascinating.

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  • Cristina

    Thank you for sharing this. It was as if I was meant to stumble upon it, as I have been experiencing these same feelings about my career the last year and a half. Surely, God would not have opened the doors for me at this new job if didn’t think I was capable. I’m ready to create a new story! Thank you.

  • http://www.VirginiaBasyeCarr.com/ Virginia Basye Carr

    This is exactly the message in my Bible study that was just published this year! For me, I spent 10 years in a pit of depression after losing a job that I loved and on which I based my identity and importance. After I started taking every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5) and started thinking about the 8 things listed in Phil. 4:8, God marvelously lifted me up and out of that pit. The end product is “Change the Way You Think…Winning the Everyday Battles of the Mind.”

  • Jyoti Pandey

    I would share my blog that I wrote after a confidence shattering experience on the road while driving. The language that we speak to ourselves is very overpowering…

    http://perspective-jyoti.blogspot.com/2007/11/power-of-visualization.html 

    would love to hear your comments…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great example of overcoming a traumatic experience. Thanks for sharing it!

  • CarlaB

    This is so true. It is similar advise to Daniel G. Amen in “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” and also what Pat Parelli (Parelli Natural Horsemanship) says so simply, “what you focus on expands.”  I have begun to notice when I hear my brain repeat something and ask myself, “do I believe this? if no, then what do I believe? ok, now focus on that” and as I change my focus I begin to act and think differently. 
    Your steps are very helpful in this reframing my thoughts and becoming aware of my emotions and their impact. Thanks! Your comments are so empowering.

  • Nzkramsay

    Thanks for this Michael. I too used to be a ‘negative talker’ internally and verbally. Someone pointed it out to me so I began to only verbalise positive statements. My brain soon followed automatically, and a new voice took over – one of nurturing and encouragement. Now, it’s like having a mental ‘cheerleading’ team. 
    I recently discovered though, that it’s important to really believe and mean what you’re saying – the words have to be coming from a place of truth to really resonate. I elaborate on this here http://weatherwithyou.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/taste-your-words-before-you-spit-them-out/.
    God bless,
    K Ramsay

  • Stefani

    Your honesty is endearing and your courage, inspiring. I suffer from intense shyness that makes me fear public speaking. And that fear makes me loathe myself, only making the shyness worse. As I now run my own business, it’s something I’m working to change. This post helped me a lot. Especially the line, “you can’t lose, you can only quit. And I am not a quitter.” that will stay with me. Thank you.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Stefani, taking the risk to be a business owner definitely shows your courage!  You really can’t lose, if you don’t quit!!

  • crwhere

    deleted

  • http://www.coachingreallyworks.com/ A Stone

    I’m very glad you shared this.

    As a coach I’ve seen so many people living with similar
    dis-empowering beliefs.  It doesn’t have to be about something as big as
    you faced.

    I know for me it can tend to be little things but those small things can have a big impact on our lives.

    So much starts in the mind with that mental image of ourselves as Dr. M. Maltz put it. Change the image change the results.

     

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  • http://www.possesshispromises.com/ Karen

    Thank you for this post. I, too accepted a job that I was qualified for on paper, but once I had been there for a few weeks, I told myself that I had gotten into a position that I could not do well. God had opened the door to this job, and I had prayed, “Father, slam the door shut if you don’t want me to step through.” He didn’t, and I did. Almost six years later, my responsibilities have expanded, and God is continuing to open doors that would have remained shut if I hadn’t changed my story. Thank you for reaching out to others to share this spot-on principle.

  • KevinIvey

    When the student is ready-the teacher will appear. Years ago, Covey ‘appeared'; some time ago, in the midst of a trial of faith-you and our blog appeared. 

  • http://keriwyattkent.com/soul Keri Wyatt Kent

    Mike, this truth snagged on my conscience: “Sometimes, people are addicted to their problems and the stories that create them.” The resonance both frightened and inspired me. Huh. 

  • Wendy Fox

    Wow!  I can’t tell you how much this article has helped me!  I did exactly as you suggested, and I really learned alot about the things that make me feel anxious.  I have a long way to go, but at least I can clearly hear the voice and what it’s saying, and that’s where my freedom begins.  And I learned that as I listen to what the voice is saying to me, it actually disarms the fear instead of increasing it.  Can’t thank you enough for sharing your story.  You have helped me more than you know.  God bless!

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  • smallsteps35

    i have had a bad couple of years since the person i was suppose to marry left me for someone else. I was crushed. I became an alcoholic and I was in jail like every weekend for like 6 months. I was so frustrated with my life and I did not care where I ended up. I lost 35 lbs. I was healthy 180, and at the depth of my depression I was reduced to a ghost at 145 lbs. I packed up all my things and left the place all this had occurred. i have begin a new life with someone else, but I do have to admit the magic I had with the other person is undeniable. I have started trying to change my story. When I am alone I act out scenarios that I know would make me happy and now I will began keeping what I would refer to as a manifestation journal. I will wrote about thing I pretended happened to me today… and see where it goes.

  • Sam Pasco

    Some really good advice here Michael! To get that voice inside our heads in sync with who we know we truly are in Him…now that’s an achievement…thanks for sharing!

  • Kamil

    I’ve been struggling with the same problem for a very long time. I figured out that I had been telling myself negative things. As a result, I lost self-confidence which led to a low self-esteem. Now I am on a track to regain what I had lost. This inner voice can literally destroy one’s career.
    I am a young person but believe me that I’ve gone through a lot. I had to face a lot of failures as a professional swimmer. Every time I lost a race I told myself horrible things, like, I’m nothing, I will never amount to anything etc. The things we tell ourselves can have a big power. Fortunately, I’ve changed my mindset. Im a different person. Thanks for the wounderful content! :)

    P.S. Sorry for my writing mistakes. I’ve got to polish up my English but it’s kind of difficult in a non-english environment.

  • MyTutuSense

    When I was a teenager, I had a very well-meaning uncle who wanted to discourage me from the path I wanted to follow for my life and encourage me in a completely different direction because he thought being a dance teacher would never provide me a steady income. Thirty-plus years later his words still ring in my head and I fight them off on a regular basis. He told me he could see me being a “top-notch secretary.” There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that profession if it’s what one loves doing. However, it’s not what I wanted, and, in my teenaged mind, it morphed into, “if that’s the best my family thinks I can be, then why should I try to be anything more?” I was crushed. With a great deal of help from a very loving and encouraging husband, I moved past that negative image and was able to fulfill my dreams of owning my own dance business. Now that I have closed the dance studio, I am looking to use that wonderful experience and wisdom to help other studio owners and teachers build a productive and fulfilling dance business. I’m finding that some of my old fears and doubts are creeping back from years ago, so I truly appreciate this post! It means the world to know that others have experienced some of the same things and come out victorious!

  • chol

    Thanks for sharing this! Your new story spoke to me. God bless you Michael!

  • Ingrid Schaffenburg

    This is fantastic. Thank you for this powerful reminder!