The Stories We Tell About Ourselves: How to Change a Life

| March 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

by Mrs. Freud

“Airport books,” also known as the self-help book industry, is one of the largest and most successful categories in this market. We probably all have one or several self-help books at home. We’ve purchased them with the intent to better our lives.

A few years ago I was at the “I Can Do It” Conference, the mecca for all “self-helpers” with lots of inspirational speakers. While I was standing and staring in awe at the big hall filled with books for sale, a volunteer next to me told me that she came to each one of these conferences and bought a bag full of books. When I asked if she had read them all, she answered, puzzled: “Not one! I guess I just love buying them.”

That illustrated the dilemma. We want to better our lives; we hear our inner desires; but we don´t want to read the book to accomplish our mission, let alone do the exercises and repeat them so that that they become our new life. What a shame. Therein truly lays the secret. It is not difficult or complicated. All it takes is a little awareness: making a decision, some planning and then actually following through by implementing the steps to improve our lives.

I am extremely fascinated with anything that has to do with habit changes and conscious life designs. It is true that often we have a “story” that is keeping us from living our dreams. If you wonder what the story is that you identify with, pay attention to what you tell a stranger about yourself within the first 15 minutes after introduction. What you share is what you perceive about yourself. Often I hear a victim story.

I remember being at a casual gathering. After an introduction, a young man in a wheel chair told me that his parents only fed him junk food and thus ruined his whole life, and he could not hold down a job. Ironically, he was eating a pizza while telling his story. I would have thought that being in a wheel chair might be his story, but that shows how individual our stories are, and how they become reality.

Then I remember meeting a fellow psychology student in college (also in a wheel chair). He talked to me enthusiastically about how fascinating the theories of psychology were to him. Today he is somewhat of a celebrity psychologist, with a fantastic office in Vienna, a sweet wife and several children. His story explains the person that he intended to be.

What is your story? How does one decide which self-help guru or book or theory will have the power to bring about desired changes in his/her life? I found that with the abundance of options it is important to notice what we feel drawn towards. What fascinates and beckons us? Next, we need to make a commitment and give it time to do “its magic.” Stick with it for a while. Also, implement only one or two little routines, changes or exercises over a period of time.

We can be much more successful by implementing little life additions, as opposed to the big make-overs. You are doomed to fail if you seek to abandon who you are today, and to completely exchange this for a totally new you. We can´t just leap away from an unhappy lifestyle. It takes a calm jumping off point, sort of like paragliding. It is life threatening to take off in heavy winds without good footing.

Well, nothing excites me more than mindfully implementing a new routine and then, after a while, realizing how much my life benefitted from the change. I feel a sense of accomplishment, peace and calm, as well as lots of endorphins and optimism for the future.

Author Sabine Starr is a psychologist licensed in Vienna, Austria, currently living and working in Mission Hills. She has written numerous articles for professional psychology journals. For further information, visit www.starrcoaching.com and follow her blog at www.HealthwithTaste.blogspot.com; and a new social media offering is www.facebook.com/StarrCoaching.

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