How to Tell Yourself a New Story

Fact: There are burpees in the workout today.

Story: I hate burpees, and I already do enough workouts that have burpees in it, and my shoulder feels tight, and it’s really cold out this morning, and my body could use a rest day, and I can just workout the next two days instead.

The MOST important piece of telling yourself a new story is being able to decipher the difference between FACT and STORY.

The fact vs. story dilemma doesn’t just show up in the things we tell ourselves, but also in the things we tell others.

Andrew and I have been doing Conscious Leadership Coaching over the last 6 months and this is one of the most impactful lessons I’ve learned from the coaching.

When faced with a conflict, can we separate fact from story? Can we do our best to remain in fact and stay out of story? And if we go to story, can we label it as such? And when we're in story, can we stay playful and creative, and ask, "what if the opposite were true"?

To better understand fact vs. story let’s consider a situation at home with your spouse or loved one.

You were in a rush this morning to get to work and accidentally left your sweaty gym clothes on the bathroom floor. (Not an actual Frezza household story if you’re wondering, but maybe loosely “inspired by true events”).

The leaving of gym clothes on the ground is fact. If a camera was set up in your bathroom (yea kinda weird I know), it would report to any unbiased eyes that this is what happened.

But your wife has an interpretation of what happened, a story.

Your wife’s story is that you ALWAYS do this. Her story is that you’re inconsiderate and you don’t care about having a clean house. And since you don’t care about a clean house, clearly you don’t care about her. And you only care about your workouts and your workout friends and your score on SugarWOD because you were able to get that score submitted before work and fistbump your buddies too. And you must think of her more like a maid, rather than the love of your life if this is how you treat her. Love should be shown through your actions and obviously you don’t love your wife like you used to if this is how you act towards her.

As lengthy as this story is, it is a somewhat condensed version of the thoughts we typically let run through our head for hours and days on end. We often let stories fester, mutate, and take on a life of their own. We can let the stories in our lives consume us and ruin past memories, as well as hindering our making of new moments.

The simple act of leaving gym clothes on the ground, has now become a malicious act against the one you (apparently used to) love.

Notice in the story how internalized this conflict became. Your wife now thinks you don’t care about her, you care more about your workouts than her, you care more about your workout score than her, you care more about work than her. A simple action, or lack of action, has become an intentional act against someone.

How often do we do this with things that HAPPEN AROUND US and act like they are HAPPENING TO US?

I can’t believe that person posted that thing on social media that was clearly a shot at me. It’s ridiculous this person is completely ignoring me after all I’ve done for them. My boss picks on me. This new rule/law change is hurtful to me. The world is out to get ME!!!!!!!

We take WE facts and turn them into ME stories.

We ruin what was possibly a beautiful past with someone or something, and sabotage hope for an ideal future.

We do this with the people and events in our lives. We also do this with ourselves.

In the depths of a hard workout, it’s easy to write stories. “I’m too tired to finish. I can’t do this weight. My arms are going to fall off. My legs are going to explode. I slept really poorly last night. I didn’t eat that great before the workout today. I’m not as fit as the person next to me. I just don’t have “it” today. I haven’t had “it” for a while now. I don’t even know if I can handle workouts this tough for much longer. I just need to see an ab than I can retire.”

There are endless amounts of stories you can tell yourself. But there’s just one fact, you were blessed with a working body and you are here today inside of FitTown Jupiter to use it.

The rest is just manifestations of the mind.

After we are able to separate fact from story, the quickest way to break free from the grip of detrimental stories in your life is to ask a simple questions, “what if the opposite we’re true?”

Stories quickly fall apart when faced with this question because simply asking “what if…” breaks the pattern of a story intensifying.

Let’s get back to our workout and reverse those negative stories.

“I have energy to finish! I can do this weight! My arms feel good and my legs are ready for another set! I slept less than usual but I have this superpower where I can do amazing things with little rest. I forgot to eat but I’m feeling good and not weighed down by extra food in me. I’m as fit as I need to be right now to do my best. Doing my best is always good enough. I can handle this workout and every workout that I’m faced with. I have built a tougher mind through my workouts and can handle so much more inside and outside the gym.”

When we realize stories are stories, and not facts, we can willingly rewrite them.

It takes work to identify the stories in our lives and to stop relaying them to our brains as facts. One practice we’ve started in our team at FitTown Jupiter is that we’ll say, “my story about this is…” We pause ourselves when we realize we shifted from fact to story and address it as such.

Let’s go back to the under-appreciated spouse. What if the opposite of her story were true?

What if her husband didn’t always do this and was actually pretty good at cleaning up after himself in almost all areas of the house? What if he was a really considerate husband and did just get her a bunch of really thoughtful Christmas presents just a few weeks ago? What if he only cared about his workouts so that he could live a long and healthy life with the family he loves so much? What if he has a different love language like words of affirmation and not acts of service, and chooses to show his love by thanking her and saying “I love you” several times a day? What if he loves his wife more than anything in this world?

That’s a really different story than the one created before.

It’s a story she has the option of creating EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s a story that would completely change the way she acts towards her husband.

This is the option we have every single day to write different stories.

Write an empowering story about your workout today.

Write a loving story about your loved ones today.

Write a remarkable story about your life today.

Separate fact, from story, and start rewriting.

What’s a story that you are working on rewriting or have rewritten in your life? I’d love to hear it if you’re open to sharing it.

-Coach Tony