Stories are like boxes we build around ourselves to give structure, identity, security and familiarity. We are attached to them even when they are traumatic and painful, because they feel so much part of us... However, stories also limit us; if we grow too big they suffocate us, or if the stories grow too big they squash us and prevent us from being who we really are. Recognizing that we continuously create and repeat stories is an important step towards breaking our boxes. -- Jochen Encke
We all have stories. One person may be stuck in a story about lack of money; another might always be talking about how she is too busy, too tired, suffering with poor health or struggling to find the right relationship.
Our stories are made up of cluttered thoughts and notions about what we feel is wrong in our lives. The people we share our lives with are used to our stories. Other people unintentionally hold us in our stories. Our stories are part of our clutter.
Hiding Behind Our Story?
Our clutter in its various forms prevents us from connecting fully to our brilliance, and it also protects us from it. Why would we want to protect ourselves from being in our brilliance? Because deep down many of us are scared of our power and potential if we were brave enough to show up in the world as our true selves, without the comfort of hiding behind our story.
Who would you be without your story? We often believe that our stories keep us safe because they are predictable. When we choose to release our stories and live from our inner brilliance, we change everything.
Author Byron Katie has developed a powerful process of self-inquiry that helps people to question the key thoughts creating their stories. Her process is based on the following questions, referred to as The Work:
- Is it true?
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
After getting still and answering these four questions in relation to a story you have been carrying, you then turn the thought around to its opposite or opposites and find at least three specific, genuine examples of how each turnaround is true in your life. For example, My mother should listen to me becomes My mother shouldn’t listen to me. How could that be true? Find three examples. Other turnarounds might be I should listen to me and I should listen to my mother.
In turning old beliefs around profound shifts happen because we often find that the turnaround thought can be equally as true as the original story we have been telling ourselves and others.
Common Limiting Beliefs
Below is a list of common limiting beliefs that clients often uncover as part of their old burnout story. Some people find that they mildly identify with almost every belief on each list, whereas others uncover one or two beliefs that powerfully resonate and are deeply engrained. Rest assured that once they have been identified, your old beliefs can be challenged and replaced – no matter how overwhelmingly many there may be or how seemingly few, yet strongly held.
The key is to be honest with yourself and acknowledge any beliefs that feel true for you. Also add any additional beliefs that you know you hold but that don’t appear below.
Once you have identified your key limiting beliefs, you can start uprooting them by writing down positive, affirming opposites and experimenting with what you would like to believe in their place.
Old Relationship Beliefs
- I should put others first
- I feel guilty if I do something for myself
- I must support (insert name of family member/group)
- I have no time for my self
- I am not worthy of ...
- I am no good at ...
- He/she wouldn’t approve if I ....
- People like me/us/my family don’t do (insert activity/job)
- Life is cruel
- Life is hard
- Life is a struggle
- XXXXX is impossible for me
- I am scared of being seen
- I am scared of success
- I am scared of failure
- I am scared of the unknown
- I am scared of losing everything
- I am scared it could all go wrong
- Other people don’t like me
- Other people don’t approve of me
- I must keep busy
- I always need to be doing something
Old Work Beliefs
- Work = Struggle
- Work comes first
- Work must involve sacrifice
- Work must be hard
- Work must be earned
- Success must be deserved
- Success must be competed for
- Success can be taken away over night
- I can’t make money doing something I love
- The kind of work I’d really like to do is not significant enough
- People doing jobs they love are either poor or got a lucky break
- Following my passion won’t pay the bills
- It doesn’t matter if I hate my job
- My work should pay well
- I must work for as long as it takes to get everything done
- I must work for as long as it takes to make everything perfect
- I must work for the rest of my life
- I can earn more when I put in more hours
- Good opportunities are hard to find
Old Money Beliefs
- Money is dirty
- Money does not grow on trees
- Money is in short supply
- Money is the root of all evil
- Money goes out faster than it comes in
- It is hard to hold onto money
- Rich people are seldom happy
- Rich people are greedy and dishonest
- Rich people have no privacy
- It takes too much effort to earn lots of money
- I do not deserve to earn lots of money
- Money is not spiritual
- I need lots of money to make more money
- There is a limit to how much I can earn
- Money only comes from hard work
Old Health Beliefs
- I get ill easily
- I am always tired
- I have to push through the pain
- I cannot call in sick
- I will probably get the same disease as my mother/ father/grandparent when I am older
- I cannot keep up
- I do not have time to rest
- I do not have time to exercise
- I do not enjoy exercise
- I cannot afford to exercise
- Eating this (thing that is bad for me) will not make that much difference
- Just one more glass (of alcohol) will not make that much difference
- I need to eat it to keep me going (high sugar/fat/carbohydrate food)
- I need to drink to help me sleep/cope (alcohol)
- I will start my diet next week/month/year (procrastinating)
- I will exercise next week/month/year
- I am not over-exercising; I just need to complete this (marathon/race/other big challenge)
Turning Around Your Burnout Story
When Hunt Big Sales CEO Tom Searcy went through a particularly tiring period, his lack of energy nearly led to him shutting the business he loved. He recognised that he needed to figure out how to get his energy back. Upon reflection of how he got so exhausted he says:
Most of the fatigue that hits us as CEOs doesn’t come upon us all at once. Instead, fatigue creeps up on us. The causes, I think, are common: I worry over suppliers, employees, customers, cash flow, regulation—and the fact that everything takes too *&A% long! These frustrations are pretty typical of most small and midsize companies. Even if you have a very small business with almost no staff, there are times when day-to-day concerns can wear you out.
Are you ready to overcome your overwork habits, fight your fatigue and turn around your entire burnout story so that you can discover who you might be without it?
The following art exercise has helped many of my clients to clear their old story in preparation for writing a new, more positive and inspiring script.
Use it now to powerfully clear any thought clutter that has been blocking the brilliance of your inner diamond.
Take a fresh piece of paper and draw a diamond at the centre. This represents the essence of you. Give yourself permission to draw the diamond imperfectly. It does not matter how accurately your picture actually resembles a diamond. All that matters is the intention you set right now to set yourself free from anything that has clogged up your thinking, energy, relationships, wealth, career, health and wellbeing.
Draw or write around the picture of your diamond any of the old thoughts that you would now like to let go of.
Just as easily as any of your previous patterns of thinking were first formed, they can now be released. Your mind is incredibly powerful and capable of creating new neurological pathways for your thinking to follow.
Imagine you are doing some weeding in your garden. You have a lovely lawn, and you are making space for new shoots of grass to take the place of some of the moss and weeds that were quietly preventing them from coming through before.
I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always. -- Byron Katie
Once you have finished adding all your old limited or fear based thinking to your diamond picture, draw little lines on the picture connecting all of the clutter on your picture to your diamond in the centre. These little lines represent the energetic connection that you have to each of them. Even though you may hold a great amount of resentment towards the fact that you have held some of the thoughts on your picture, notice that part of you is able to value and appreciate the learning and lesson that each thought has given you.
Right now you are one choice away from a new beginning – one that leads you toward becoming the fullest human being you can be. -- Oprah Winfrey
Choose now to love whatever you can, from where you are, in order to let it go. With forgiveness for yourself and for anyone else that comes to mind, connect with a sensation of love within your heart and imagine your diamond shining incredibly brightly and dissolving all of the little energetic cords that once connected you to your thought clutter.
Visualise the thoughts themselves and any remaining attachment you had to them or anything else that you added on your picture being surrounded by love and the brightness of the light from your diamond, as if you are dissolving them in love and brightness. Feel them literally floating away and disintegrating.
When you sense that you have finished dissolving everything around your diamond, take a pair of scissors and cut your diamond out from the piece of paper. This is symbolic of you having chosen to now consciously allow your brilliance to shine.
It is time to recover your energy and rediscover your inner power!
©2014 by Jayne Morris. All Rights Reserved.
Published by Changemakers Books.
Burnout to Brilliance: Strategies for Sustainable Success
by Jayne Morris.
About the Author
Jayne Morris is resident life coach expert for NHS Online Health Sector, contributor to The Huffington Post and has been featured in leading publications including The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, Red, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Fitness and many more. She is a popular international speaker, workshop leader, radio and TV personality.