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The stories we tell ourselves

For years I self-identified as a technophobe. I'm not sure why or how that happened. As a kid, my family always had the latest gadgets. We had a home PC when they were as rare to find as spotting a bigfoot. We had dial-up internet before any of my friends did. And everyone asked, "what's that?" when they saw the car phone my parents had bolted to the center counsel (yup, that was their first cell phone).

As an adult, when I had to spend my own money, I was no longer an early adapter of technology. I became a wait and see consumer of gadgets. But as the pace of change and advancement became more rapid, my wait and see approach made it more difficult for me to keep up. There was the technology I was comfortable with than there was everything else and it scared me.

As a result, I started to build this story that led to me pushing technology away. I was comfortable with what was familiar and resistant to anything new (until the 4th generation of the iPhone came out and I was decidedly convinced that my inability to check email on the go was a sign of professional failure).

When I got my iPhone, I suddenly had all these expectations for how much easier my life would be. Things would become streamlined, my work more efficient. I had this vision of myself casually scrolling on my phone as I sat outside on a restaurant patio getting important business done on the fly. I expected to feel carefree.

The reality was a far cry from what I had hoped. Things that I thought should be easy for me to do on my phone were not. Apps didn't work properly. Pages would take forever to load. And my own user error likely contributed to my bad experiences.

The disconnect between my expectations and my experience shaped the story I told myself about tech even deeper into the negative. I began to see tech as a source of frustration and stress, it was a necessary evil that I resisted as much as possible.

This story I was telling myself did not empower me to address the root issues I was having. It caused me to spin my wheels and sink into a victim mentality. The story about tech seeped into other parts of my life, chiefly impacting how I showed up for my business.

When I saw other colleagues doing cool things online, using tech in how they managed and promoted their businesses I told myself I couldn't do it because I didn't have what it takes.

But I couldn't completely reject any and all use of technology so I created a habit of getting really fired up every time something didn't work as I expected (which was often). I'd get so mad figuring out how to navigate some new program, that I wanted to through my computer out the window. It was not a pretty sight to see.

As my frustration reached a peek, I was ready for a change. I brought my awareness to the thoughts I habitually had about technology and realized how my own negative thinking was directly impacting my experiences. I was aghast to realize that this one simple line, "I'm a technophobe" morphed into all these other self-deprecating beliefs about how I'm not good enough, not capable, not adaptable. And I uncovered a deeper belief that tech never works right so I lived in anticipation of disappointment.

Once I was aware I could actively shift the story in the moment, which I did by first rewriting my story in my journal. I started to tell myself that I am plenty tech-savvy and that technology is a tool I can choose to use to make my life better. I had more positive experiences as well as an openness to learning new tools because of the shift in my thinking.

This effort started in earnest for me five years ago. My willingness to experiment with new platforms and my growing comfort using technology enabled me to navigate the transition to 100% remote work in 2020 with ease. The tech I use still has its glitches and my internet doesn't always work the best, but I no longer get deeply triggered and derailed by those experiences. I have the ability to cope and role with it because the story I now tell myself is positive and highlights my ability to use the tool.

Every thought we have informs the way we see the world. When those thoughts get repeated over and over again in response to different stimuli, it informs our beliefs about the way the world works. When we blindly follow those stories we are giving our power away.

By becoming aware of the thoughts and stories we tell ourselves, we reclaim our power. After all - I am the author of my story, edits, rewrites, and alternative endings are my prerogative - is one of my favorite mantras. We can't control external things in our lives like the way other people act or the quality of a new app we downloaded, but we can control the thoughts we have.

If you're tired of dealing with the same old problem, feeling burnt out, on edge and out of control, it's a good time to step back and simply notice - what are the thoughts and stories you're telling myself about this situation? Often times, there's a lot more that can be revealed by looking within than perpetually scanning the horizon for an external threat while negative thoughts percolate in the background.

Want to get support, connect with others, and develop a journaling practice that enables you to deepen your self-awareness so you can stop being derailed by the same old problems? Check out the last Journal Jam of the year on 12/16/20 - finish 2020 strong and set yourself up to thrive in 2021.

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