I used to be filled with anxiety and had a hard time socializing with people. I thought that others would notice my anxiety and think I was strange. “I’m strange and no one will understand me,” is the story I told myself. As a result, I avoided social situations and this became the story that I told myself on a daily basis. Therefore, I avoided most social situations and began to develop very low self-esteem.
What story do you tell yourself? How is this story influencing your life?
Being a Buddhist, I often turn to Buddhist philosophy to encourage me and the following is a quote that I live by:
Buddhism teaches us that the individual writes and performs the script for his or her own life. Neither chance nor a divine being writes the script for us. We write it and we are the actors who play it. This is an extremely positive philosophy, inherent in the teachings of 3,000 realms in a single moment of life. You are the author and the hero. To perform your play well, it is important to pound the script into your head so thoroughly that you can see it vividly before your eyes. You may need to rehearse in your mind. Sometimes it helps to write down your goals, copying them over and over until they are inscribed in your heart. —Daisaku Ikeda, Buddhist philosopher
When your story is based on negative past experiences, it can affect your confidence and fill you with self-doubt, uncertainty and low self-esteem. Therefore, it is important to do an honest assessment of the stories you tell yourself and how it is affecting your life. Is the story affecting your life in a positive or negative manner? Make a list of the stories you tell yourself and begin to hash out a common theme among them.
Once you identify the common thread of these stories, you can begin to outsmart yourself. You can outsmart yourself by telling yourself and acting out the story you want your life to be. Become hyper self-aware and identify the negative story and replace it with a positive story of what you want your life to be.
I thought that once I was shy I would always be shy. I tricked myself into believing my negative story was a version of my ‘real’ self. However, this slowly began to change when I started telling myself that I liked talking to people and I enjoyed learning about others. I gradually came out of my shell by overcoming the negative shy ‘story’ with my positive ‘outgoing’ story every time it appeared.
It took a lot of work and I had to, literally, force myself to act out the positive version of my story but it has been worth it. I have grown tremendously as an individual and developed a strong character.
—This article originally appeared on Thrive Global.
—Photo Credit: Flickr/Johnny Silvercloud