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How Do You Talk About Yourself?

By John Millen

In my recent online masterclass on storytelling, we delved into our origin stories and how they shape our view of the world and how people perceive us.

I noted that we tell stories all the time and the person you tell the most stories to is yourself. Listening to a recent podcast I was struck by the thinking of prolific author Michael Lewis, best known for his books Money Ball * and The Big Short,* on the importance of how we position ourselves in the stories we tell:

As I’ve gotten older—I would say starting in my mid-to-late 20s—I could not help but notice the effect on people of the stories they told about themselves. If you listen to people, if you just sit and listen, you’ll find that there are patterns in the way they talk about themselves.

There’s the kind of person who is always the victim in any story that they tell. Always on the receiving end of some injustice. There's the person who is always kind of the hero of every story they tell. There's the smart person; they delivered the clever put down there.

There are lots of versions of this, and you’ve got to be very careful about how you tell these stories because it starts to become you. You are—in the way you craft your narrative—kind of crafting your character. 

And so, I did at some point decide, “I am going to adopt self-consciously as my narrative, that I’m the happiest person anybody knows.” And it is amazing how happy-inducing it is.

This is a powerful idea, particularly in this time of uncertainty. How we perceive ourselves, and how our lives play out, is deeply influenced by the story we create and tell to ourselves and others.

What’s your story? 

How do you characterize yourself? 

Is it true to who you are, or want to be?
This week watch for the stories you and others tell about yourselves and the world.

You’ll be opening a new window of perception about yourself and the people around you.

To talk with me, visit my contact page.

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* Source: The Tim Ferriss Podcast. Read the transcript or listen here.

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