In my last post, I talked about how everyone from businesses to the media and politicians use the power of story to sell us products, services or ideas. I told a story of my own, about how I nearly bought a new phone I didn’t need as the result of one such self-constructed tale.
While stories can make us ignore facts and ultimately lead to poor decisions (like emotional impulse buying), they can also be powerful tools for positive change.
In my book, Reboot Your Body, I illustrate several ways people can use the power of story to create positive change in their lives. Positive self-talk and visualization are two key habits that are foundational to the program laid out in the book, but what I want to talk about today goes a bit beyond that.
In Chapter 12, I talk about how important it is to take responsibility for your future. One of the tips I offer for helping you do that is to use the power of story and Recast Yourself In a Better Role. Here’s an excerpt from the book:
“Who you are right now has an awful lot to do with how you’ve been viewing yourself up to this point. What label have you given yourself? Are you the funny person, there to make everyone else laugh? Are you the dependable person, putting everyone else’s needs ahead of your own? Are you the super-busy, stressed-out person, just trying to hold it all together? I have news for you—you don’t have to be any of those people. Make the decision right now to stop being that person and start being a different one. You are the writer, producer and director of your life’s script, and you can cast yourself in any role you choose.
Society, the media, your parents, your spouse, your children, your boss—you get a lot of cues from these sources about what you “should” be doing. These can be very strong influencers, and years or decades of trying to meet their expectations has strongly reinforced the role you’ve been playing. By now, you may have come to view this role as your “identity,” but it’s not your identity unless you continue to make it so. As an adult human being, you possess the free will that enables you to be and do whatever you want. If the role you’ve been playing has done you more harm than good, if it has contributed to your weight gain, your unhappiness, your poor health, your insomnia, your anxiety, your depression, then it’s time to recast yourself in a better role.
Right now I want you to really think of your life as a play or a movie, with all of the important people in your life playing the supporting actors in your story. What role would you give yourself if you could decide? What turn would your story take if you could write yourself the perfect script? I want you to think of it in this way because for a little while, in order to start changing, you may need to feel like you’re acting. It might be easier for you to do certain things “in character” than they would be for you to do “in real life.”
Craft the story that you want to live. Become the character that you want to be.”
Imagine the story of your future self, the best possible version of your life. And don’t be afraid to dream big. Once you have that story in your mind, start acting like that character a little more every day, and just see if things don’t start to change for you.