The stories we tell ourselves become ingrained in our psyche over time. Our internal monologue has a massive influence on our preferences and decisions. Self-talk is a powerful force. Author Michael Lewis had a very interesting insight into observing the stories of others and the story he proactively tells himself,
As I got older, 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 that they talk about themselves. There’s the kind of person who’s always the victim in any story they tell – always on the receiving end of some injustice. There’s the person who’s always kind of the hero in any story they tell. The smart person – they deliver the clever putdown. 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.
It gets crazy when we think about how our individual stories stack socially. The groups we form, the people we attract, the businesses we build, the clients we draw to us – they’re all linked to these stories. Lewis’ default optimism has served him well. It’s kept him out of trouble* and gotten him in front of some pretty interesting people as his books can attest. His quote is a reminder how experiences start with the story we tell ourselves. They develop with the stories we create with others. Awareness of these patterns is the first step in creating better links and stacks of stories in our lives and careers. If it’s good enough for Michael Lewis…
*He’s got one amazing story about almost getting kicked out of school for insulting a teacher and another about the time he somewhat naively got in trouble for plagiarizing. It’s his character that saves him both times. Listen to the whole interview on The Tim Ferriss Show, “Michael Lewis – Inside the Mind of the Iconic Writer (#427)”