Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash
Long before you were on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, you were the sole subscriber to a continual, perpetual one-person, private feed: your own inner narrative.
This means that for as long as you have been conscious, you have been digesting everything that is happening in your life, and interacting with yourself about it, inside your head.
This is very different from what happens when you are on social media. There, you see what the algorithms are dishing up to you: the deliberate digital breadcrumbs from the personal and professional lives of people you have specifically chosen to follow. These breadcrumbs are not chance. They are not random. They are bits and bytes that these people have specifically chosen to share with the world or with a specific audience of people. These are deliberately shared stories.
What people share on social media reflects who they are, what they think and stand for, and most importantly, it reflects what they want you to see about them. Through what they share, they help you know what’s important to them, what they care about, how they think and live their lives.
Every cat video, family moment, article, artwork, business achievement or nature photo, represents a communication. All of these tell a story.
In the era of big data, we know that big businesses like Facebook have taken our impulses to share our stories with each other, and have turned them into opportunities to match us with products, services and experiences that they think we will want to consume.
Although we may never fully understand the scope and depth of these practices, we willingly, regularly turn over our stories and preferences, intended for our own audience of friends, family and business contacts, to someone we don’t know, for them to turn into a hopefully-for-them profitable marketing opportunity. We know this. We understand it. We press “accept.” And we keep sharing anyway.
Why? Because stories are powerful. They are powerful enough to translate into big things, really big things. Stories bind us, they engage us. They scare us, they amuse us, they depress us. They uplift us. They connect us, they free us, they give us courage. Stories have the capacity to make us feel more powerful, to inspire us, to reassure us. We will go to ridiculous lengths to share our stories. Because our stories matter, to us and to those who stop and listen. A story can change everything.
The same is true for you. Even more powerful than any story you share with someone else, is the story of you. The story you tell yourself, about you, to yourself.
What you tell yourself about you and about everything and everyone else, all day, every day, makes up your inner narrative. It’s where the collected, sum total of all of the stories you have told yourself, and those you have absorbed from others your whole life, resides. If you haven’t noticed, this library of stories, mostly well-worn and familiar, has been and is a constant presence in your life. You engage with it all day long, whether you realize it or not. And it will continue to be with you for the rest of your life.
But what if you decided to do something other than observe and react and replay the same familiar stories? What if you were more conscious of what stories you were telling yourself and you decided to tell yourself something different? What if you treated yourself like someone who was hungry to hear what you have to say? What stories would you want to hear about you, from you? What if you looked at your own stories like Facebook, where there was an incredible, valuable marketing opportunity underlying every thought?
What is the story of you that you are most eager to tell?
The most scared to tell?
The most hopeful to tell?
The most joyful to tell?
The most inspired to tell?
The most on fire to tell?
Have you ever actually told yourself any of these stories?
Just for fun? Just to explore the boundaries of you? Are there any stories of incredible worthiness and wild success in your repertoire? Do you use your imagination when you engage with your inner narrative?
Remember: you always have the potential, the capacity, the power in any moment, to choose what you tell yourself.
So what will you do with this knowledge? Will you remain as your own original “follower,” the responder to your narrative, rehashing the same stories as always? Or, might you become your own “influencer,” treating what you’re saying to yourself like currency that yields a high exchange rate, an investment that can always yield a high return?
What if you treated your self-talk as an opportunity to succeed on purpose? What if it were a rare and valuable asset, brimming with the creativity and capacity to inspire millions of people and attract everything you have been seeking but haven’t yet discovered in your own life, family and career?
There’s only one way to find out. And you’re the only one who can do it.