Several years ago, I heard the CEO of a major corporation speak at a leadership conference. He started by saying he wasn’t a “gifted speaker.” It got worse from there.
He rambled for a solid hour. Clearly, he was unprepared. It was painful. And the whole episode could have been avoided.
The CEO had fallen victim to the Narrator.
What do I mean? Inside of each of our heads lives a storyteller. He narrates the events of our lives in real time.
But the Narrator does not merely provide play-by-play commentary. No, he specializes in color commentary—constantly offering his opinion about what everything means.
For example, the Narrator inside the CEO’s head had convinced him that he didn’t have a speaking gift (whatever that is). As a result, he didn’t bother preparing. After all, what good would it do? He didn’t have “the gift.”
If he had merely rejected the Narrator’s version and had told himself a different story, he could have experienced a different outcome.
For example, he could have said, “I’m not a great speaker—yet. But I can improve. I’m going to work harder to prepare. I really want to have a bigger impact on the people who hear me.”
You and I can create a more empowering inner narratives by following five steps:
- Become aware of the Narrator. Half the battle is simply waking up and becoming conscious of the commentary running through our minds. Most people are oblivious to it. It is especially important to be alert to it whenever we experience adversity or trauma. Ask: Am I telling myself a story right now?
Write down what the Narrator says. When the story starts playing, take a minute and jot it down. Try to get it word-for-word. It could be, “I’m not a gifted public speaker.” Or, “I’ll never reach my goals.” Or, “He’ll never go out with a person like me.” Whatever the story is, get it down. Ask: What is the story am I telling myself right now?
Evaluate the story the Narrator is telling. It’s easy to confuse the Narrator’s voice with the Truth. But the Narrator is only offering one perspective, based on previous experiences and—too often—fear. We don’t have to accept the version of reality the Narrator is telling, especially if it’s disempowering and prevents us from reaching our goals. Ask: Is this storyline just a limiting belief?
Affirm what you know is true. You can either live life based on past experiences, current feelings, or the Truth. As one of my mentors often says, “Most people doubt their beliefs and believe their doubts. Do just the opposite.” Ask: What do I know to be true?
Write a new script. We don’t have to be passive spectators in our stories; we certainly don’t have to be victims. While God is ultimately sovereign, we have agency. Our choices matter—more than we think! They can affect the outcome. Ask: How can I make the choices that create the best possible story?
We don’t have to fall into the same trap as the CEO. We can challenge the Narrator. We can take control of our own narratives, ask God for wisdom, and tell ourselves a different story—a better story.
Question: What disempowering stories have you told yourself?