How Changing My "Stories" Changed My Life

Have you ever had the feeling there’s something holding you back, but you can’t quite put your finger on it?

Maybe you want to start a business, have great relationships, read more books, exercise regularly...but you just don’t take the necessary action. You stay stuck.

I’ve been there. I’ve lived there.

Over the years, I’ve searched for answers as to why this happens. What I’ve learned might surprise you.

Long story short...

It turns out that human beings have a finely developed and unique ability to make up stories. Stories about ourselves, stories about our circumstances, stories about the world. We tell ourselves stories about basically everything in our lives.

Sometimes, these stories help us—like when we find meaning in our struggles or a greater purpose in our lives.

But sometimes, these stories hurt us—like when we constantly replay negative events in our minds or doubt our abilities.

Unlike every other species in the animal kingdom, we have the ability to not only make up elaborate stories for our lives, but also to genuinely believe them—regardless if they are true or not.

According to some of the brightest scientific minds, this unique ability of ours is one of the main reasons we’ve been able to dominate this planet.

So how is this important to living the life you want to live?

Because your stories are the beliefs you have about your life and the lens through which you see the world. Therefore, the quality of your stories determines the quality of your life.

Negative stories I used to tell myself

The tricky part of this whole thing is that we are often completely unaware of the limiting stories we tell ourselves. They become invisible restraints that hold us back from living the life we truly want to live.

In the past, I’ve told myself my fair share of limiting stories that have held me back from achieving my fullest potential. Here are a few of them...

“I can’t start a business because I don’t have enough money.”

“There’s nothing I can do to change my situation.”

“I’m alone because I’m not attractive enough.”

“I’ve always been a slow learner.”

Looking back, these statements seem ridiculous now. It's almost as if they belonged to someone else. That’s because I’ve learned to create new stories for myself that empower me rather than limit me.

Who would you be without your limiting stories?

How would your behavior change?

What kind of action would you take?

How would your life be different?

Would you start that business you’ve always wanted to start?

Would you take inspired action to make a change in your life?

Would you feel more confident in your romantic life because you knew what you brought to the table?

Would you recognize your unique talents and abilities and share them with the world?

Better Stories = A Better Life

When I learned how to tell myself better stories, my entire life changed.

I took inspired action and built a business I love.

I became more resourceful and saw opportunities I didn’t see before.

I let go of my insecurities and confidently pursued the woman of my dreams (who is now my fiance, Vanessa).

I questioned my perceived weaknesses and turned them into strengths.

I created financial abundance in my life by releasing my limiting stories about money and debt.

Why am I sharing these things?

I don’t always get personal, but when I do, it’s for good reason.

1.  To help break down limiting beliefs

One of the most powerful ways to break down limiting beliefs is by hearing how other people overcame a situation similar to ours.

This proof that “it can be done” helps build new reference points for us that support new beliefs.

The reason I talk about my personal life at all is to connect with people who relate to my story and show them that change is possible. If I can do it, so can you.

2. To remind you that I’m a real person

Social media often encourages us to compare our lives to the lives of strangers on the Internet. That’s a risky little game.

In a world of highlight reels, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone has a better life than you. You see people running perfect businesses, going on amazing vacations, and just generally being carefree.

The idea that everyone else has it easier than you or that your problems are unique is laughable. These are simply stories that keep feeling inadequate. The truth is, there’s no possible way you can accurately compare yourself to another human being.

Beyond that, it’s just nice to hear the behind-the-scenes stuff sometimes. 

3. I want to encourage you to share something real.

Share it in the comments below. Share it on your own page. Share it with a friend. Just share it. Be vulnerable. In the words of author Brene Brown:

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

To your success,
Ruben

PS. If you like this and want to know more about how to release your own limiting stories and move forward in your life in a big way check out the Mindset Shifts Masterclass, where I'll go waaaay more depth on similar strategies. Registration closes this Sunday May 21st and class starts on Monday May 22nd.

2 Strategies for Uncovering Limiting Beliefs

Simply put, a belief is a feeling of certainty that something is true.

Why are beliefs important?

Your beliefs are the lens through which you experience the world around you. They are the operating system of your life and the filter through which you interpret your reality.

They are thoughts and assumptions that act as our mental map for how things are, what’s possible and not possible.

Beliefs also determine the meaning we give to our circumstances and the events of our lives.

In other words, beliefs are the stories we tell ourselves about our lives.

What are limiting beliefs?

Limiting beliefs are those specific stories that hold us back in some way from becoming who we truly want to be. Often, they are unquestioned and/or unconscious.

Here's an example of a general limiting belief:

"I am a victim of my circumstances."

If we want to create lasting change in our lives, we need to let go of our limiting beliefs and cultivate empowering beliefs that support our growth. In other words, we need to tell better stories.

Here's an example of an empowering belief: 

"My circumstances are opportunities to grow and create meaning in my life."

How limiting beliefs affect your life

Let’s say you believe that everyone is out to take advantage of you. That belief will be the lens through which you view all your interactions. You brain will constantly be looking for and finding evidence that supports this belief because that is how the human brain is wired.

But let’s turn it around. Let’s say you truly believe that people are good-natured, kind, and generally want to help you. This belief will then be the lens through which you view your interactions and relationships. Your brain will constantly be looking for and finding evidence that supports this belief. And so, this is the kind of reality you will tend to experience.

With both beliefs, the people you interact with might not be any different. What will be different is the way you interpret their behavior. Your brain will attach a different meaning to the same behavior depending on your beliefs.

In computer language, beliefs are like a piece of code that programs your brain to think about things in a certain way.

This is just one simplistic example of how a single belief can dramatically affect your daily life. Consider the fact that you have hundreds, even thousands of beliefs, all working to create your version of the world as you see it.

This is not to say that you can simply say to yourself, “People are kind,” and they will magically become kind. That is not an example of a belief. That is an example of wishful thinking.

A belief happens when your perspective shifts—when you actually experience a different neural connection in your brain. I like to call this a Mindset Shift.

How do I identify my limiting beliefs?

There are a variety of ways to experience a Mindset Shift when it comes to identifying limiting beliefs. I’ll be giving you many of them in the upcoming Mindset Shifts Masterclass, which will be open for registration May 16th – 20th. For now, I want to tell you about two methods that have helped me.

1. The Out-of-Body Method

It’s often easier to recognize limiting beliefs in others than it is to recognize our own. At least, that’s often been the case for me.

For example, I have a friend who moonlights as a freelance graphic designer. He is extremely talented, always booked and makes great money from his craft. Yet, he continues to hold down a 9-5 day job he doesn’t like. Why?

Here are some of my thoughts as to why this might be...

He comes from a small, blue-collar town where the mentality is: “A good job with benefits is all you need” and “Traveling the world and catching up on work from his laptop is something snobby rich people do on vacation, not something you make a career out of.”

Doing graphic design full-time would afford him a lifestyle very different from that of his family, friends and co-workers. Given his background, it’s likely that on some level, he believes he doesn’t deserve that opportunity.

Or, maybe he believes making such a career move would cause tension in his relationships. So instead, he continues to play it safe and straddle the fence even though he says he wants to commit to his passion full-time.

These are just guesses. But here’s the point: You can use this objective approach on yourself. Often, we are so close to a situation that we can’t see how we’re tripping ourself up. It’s only when someone else points it out that it becomes obvious.

If you don’t know what your underlying beliefs are about a particular area of your life, try this:

Choose a problem, or an area of your life where you feel "stuck." If you are going to uncover limiting beliefs, you first need a specific situation to work with. Think of an area of your life you want to change.

i.e. "I can't quit my job," "My relationship is draining but I can't leave"

Once you’ve done this, step outside yourself and try looking at your situation from a third party point of view. Be the observer of your situation rather than a participant in it. 

Think of possible reasons this "other person" would have this problem. Why would they be stuck in this situation?

Write down what comes to mind.

Do these beliefs ring true? If not, dig deeper until you find ones that do. Think about your values, your assumptions and your unique life experiences. Are any of these contributing to unconscious limiting beliefs?

2. The Fill-In-The-Blank Method

This is a simple but super effective way to uncover limiting beliefs. Here's how it works:

Describe a situation you’re struggling with (e.g. “I can’t start a business”) and add the word “because” at the end of it, then finish the sentence out loud.

Example:

I can’t start a business because _________________.

Complete this sentence out loud and don’t judge your answer. What you say after the word “because” will give you a clue as to what your underlying limiting beliefs are.

Do this several times for the same topic and write down your answer each time. Record the first thing that comes to mind. If you do this without overthinking, it can help you uncover your unconscious beliefs surrounding the chosen subject.

Example:

I can't start a business because I don't have enough money.

In this statement, the limiting belief is "I don't have enough money."

In my upcoming Mindset Shifts Masterclass, I'll be giving you many more clear and practical strategies for identifying limiting beliefs and also showing you how to create new empowering beliefs that support your success.

Registration for the Masterclass will open up May 16th – 20th. Sign up here to get notified when registration opens and to receive an early bird discount on the course.

Best of April #TGPbookclub

There's no other way to say it: Books have changed my life in a dramatic and positive way.

Actually, if I’m being honest, sometimes just a single sentence or idea from a book has been enough to completely change my direction or focus. Usually, this change sends me down a path that leads to bigger and better things.

I think of books as on-the-go “pocket mentors.” And because of their relatively cheap price tag, they are by far one of the best return on investments you can make in your personal development, along with continued learning programs like specialized online courses, etc.

But what makes books so powerful?