It’s easy to say that you should change the narrative – the way you perceive or interpret a story or event – but it requires conscious effort. Often called cognitive reframing or reframing the narrative, changing the narrative involves looking at a situation from a different perspective, or actively rewriting the story you tell yourself.
This is also called cognitive restructuring – a technique used in cognitive behavioural therapy to change negative thoughts and replace them with more positive and realistic thoughts.
When is it time to change the narrative?
- When you feel like a victim a lot of the time
- When you feel like everyone (or the world) is against you
- When you’re stuck in negativity
- When your emotions are overwhelming – especially when you’re constantly feeling anxious or depressed
- When you feel unfulfilled or like you’re not achieving your goals
- When you don’t see the silver lining
- When you’re not able to communicate with others (or at least, not effectively)
Process of changing the narrative
If you have a negative view of a particular situation or event, to reframe or change the narrative you need to:
First, identify the negative thought or belief that is causing you stress or preventing you from achieving your goals. Now, take a closer look at the evidence for and against the thought or belief. Are there any facts that support it, or are there other perspectives that you haven’t considered?
Try to find different perspectives by talking to different people. Once you’ve found a few different angles, challenge those negative thoughts by considering the evidence. Are your negative thoughts reasonable and logical?
Blue-footed Booby Success Formula: 3 Ways to change the narrative and take control:
1. Cut through your own BS:
If you’re serious about changing the narrative, you need to cut through your own BS. Be honest and direct with yourself. Don’t sugarcoat the situation or make excuses. Rather acknowledge the facts and focus on what you can do to change them. Instead of dwelling on negative experiences or wallowing in self-pity, use them as an opportunity to learn and grow.
2. Embrace the suck:
It’s crucial to accept and embrace the difficult parts of life. Instead of trying to avoid or ignore negative aspects of a situation, acknowledge them, and focus on finding a way to work through it. Don’t try to hide or deny your feelings. Rather confront them and work through them.
3. Take responsibility:
If you really want to change the narrative, you might need to come to terms with the idea that you’re the one creating your story. You need to take ownership of your own thoughts, actions, and choices. This can seem like a lot. When reframing your narrative, just try to see that you have responsibility for your own role in the situation.
By taking ownership, you can start to see yourself as empowered – which allows you to go through the process of identifying negative thoughts and consciously look for different points of view.
How to make cognitive reframing a habit
To make the above a habit, you need to constantly practice reframing your thoughts around an event or situation. Work through these steps whenever a negative thought arises and actively remind yourself of other, more positive ways of looking at any event or situation that occurs.
Lastly, check yourself! Reframe the language you use, because the words you use to describe a situation can influence your perception of it. Instead of using negative words and phrases, try to use positive or neutral language. For example, instead of saying “I can’t do this,” try saying “I am working on it,” or “I am figuring out how to do this.” A little bit of kindness goes a long way 🙂
Learning to actively change the narrative
I remember the first time I read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and how the idea that “you are not your thoughts” resonated with me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It implied that I was more than the rapid stream of minutiae and negativity that invaded my daily consciousness. Best of all, it implied that I could become the observer of my thoughts, and in so doing, not identify with them, but see them as distinct. I could be in control! This all led to several epiphanies.
From Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in university, giving up smoking after reading Allen Carr’s The Easy Way to Stop Smoking (which was also a kind of cognitive restructuring) and then completing Morty Lefkoe’s course on eliminating the beliefs that hold you back, I started realising that thoughts become things, that negative patterns can change through conscious restructuring, and that I too can change my own narrative!
If you feel ready to change the narrative and rewrite your story, don’t be scared to experiment with different approaches to find what works best for you. Changing your narrative takes time, patience, and practice. And if you’re dealing with complex and severe issues, it can be helpful to seek professional guidance, rather than working through them on your own.
If you try to change the narrative that you’re currently telling yourself, please share your experiences in the comments below or shoot us an email. We’d love to hear about the incredible ways your life has changed as a result.
As always, don’t forget to join the blue-foot flock. We’re starting a tribe of quirky boobies who want to learn about positive ways to change their lives.