Have you ever bought a lottery ticket and then thought about all the things you would do if you won? You’d pay off debt, buy a new car, give a significant donation to charity, buy your mom a house…the options would be outrageous! That is a story that we’ve built in our minds.
Right now, as I’m composing this blog, I’m telling myself a story in my head. I’m saying things that run the gamut from “Will people actually read this blog? Will they think it’s a stupid idea?” to “This could really help people! I will write a book!” The fact is that in almost every moment that we are awake and thinking, we are compiling stories in our minds. We anticipate responses from other people. We wonder what people are thinking about us…about the situation…about anything. The funny thing is that we all believe that what we are thinking is 100% true and much of the time we are 100% WRONG! And what is worse is that the stories that we tell ourselves pretty much control our actions and responses.
I will give you a personal example of what I am talking about. We got notice from one of our clients that they were taking their business in house (we manage commercial properties). Their notice contained so many compliments about the property manager and how they were going to miss working with her because she was so responsive to their needs, etc. I let the property manager know that the change was coming, and coincidentally, scheduled a trip down to see her the following week. I took my right hand person with me because she was new to the job (recently promoted), and it was an opportunity for her to get to know the market. We got there around lunch time and took both property managers to lunch. We were chatting and I started talking about “the stories we tell ourselves.” The property manager in question let out a big sigh of relief and said something like, “Wow, you hit the nail on the head.” When I asked her what she meant she went on to tell us that she thought we were coming down there to fire her for losing the property that went in house. For a solid week she was building this story in her head. She said that things just started adding up for her. We lost the property. I scheduled a trip. I was bringing my area manager with me. That must have meant that we were coming to fire her. That story was 100% wrong. The alternate story was 100% right. Starting with, I’ve known this person for almost 15 years! We lost the property because the client was taking it in house to save money on management fees. I scheduled the trip and brought my area manager because I hadn’t been there in awhile and she needed to get to know the market. That was the extent. That was it! I laughed and said “Well, you were missing one thing – it wasn’t a Friday!” because apparently when I show up on Fridays, people think they are getting fired. If I was a hard-nosed boss that created an environment of fear for my employees, I could understand feeling that way. But I am not (and never want to be).
I have a theory about why we tend to err on the side of negativity instead of thinking positively and it involves threads. I think of our brains as a series of threads that intertwine to build a network and foundation. Every once in awhile (well, really, more like every few minutes), one of those negative threads pops up and gets a little loose. And I think the enemy knows he can pull at that thread and he does; sending us spiraling down a path of negativity. It is our job to see him for what he is and put a stop to that.
So, what do I hope to accomplish with this blog? I hope that by reading the things contained herein, that you will start to recognize the stories you are telling yourself. They say the first step in healing is to recognize the problem, right? If you start to recognize the stories, you will start to recognize the patterns you set up for yourself. By recognizing these patterns, you can change them – and by that I mean changing to a more positive mindset with (for lack of a better term) better stories!
So welcome to “What’s Your Story?”. I hope you are here for the long haul. I know I am!