Lessons of 2019 – October.
This is the tenth part in a new blog-series about the lessons I’ve learned this year. Read the full into in the January post, but basically I’m sharing the stand-out lessons from the last year in the hope that they will inspire and encourage others, and I also want to urge you all to be intentional about capturing and retaining the lessons that will make you a better person. Here is October’s lesson…
October’s Lesson: Control your own personal narrative at the end of each day – or someone else will.
Very rarely do we have a day that’s totally amazing, or a complete disaster. Most often it’s somewhere in-between, there’s been some good and some bad. With those kind of days, do you ever find yourself trying to decide what to make of it? Has it been a good day? Has it been a bad day? How do I make sense of it, and what do I want to take away from it?
First of all, it’s good just to ask these questions. They show a healthy level of self-awareness and a willingness to learn. Whatever has happened to us today, we can always learn something from it, and that’s far better than just being passive and letting life happen to us. We should be connected to ourselves and what’s going on below the surface. What direction are we going in? What’s driving those emotions? What made us act like that/say that? These are all good questions to ask.
But beyond that, I’ve learnt that it’s important how we characterise a day. If we think of it as a bad day, that’s what it will be and how it will remain in our memories. If we think of it as a good day, the same is true. We all have an opportunity to control the narrative at the end of a day, but what I’ve realised is that very few of us take it. We just let the dominant emotions of the moment do it for us. We let the outside world and other people dictate our narrative instead of taking control of it ourselves.
Our days shouldn’t be defined by what’s happened to us but by what we want to learn from them. This isn’t about denial or pretending something was amazing when it wasn’t, this is about keeping a healthy, balanced perspective.
If most days are a mix of good and bad, then don’t focus exclusively on the bad. Do you ever notice that tendency? However good the rest of the day has been, we can find ourselves fixating on one particular setback, embarrassing incident or snide comment. It’s like when we get feedback, we tend to zero in on the positive. If you hear a hundred compliments and one criticism, what do you remember? The criticism. Why do we do that? That’s a rubbish way to think.
I’m sure most of us have noticed that, but let’s not be fooled into thinking that that’s just human nature or that there’s nothing we can do about it. Because there is. We can choose to keep the positive in mind. Just like most of us need to get better at receiving compliments, so most of us need to improve our personal stock-take at the end of the day.
Yes, those bad things happened, but don’t leave it at that. Ask what can you learn from them? What might God be trying to teach you through those things? Then recall the good things – yes, they did happen – even on particularly grotty days. There’s always something you can place on the other side of the scales. Remember the kindnesses, the comforts, the small wins and the ways you make progress. Claim them. Don’t let natural grumpiness sweep them away. You can be honest, just make sure you’re also hopeful.
If we let negative things control the narrative, they’ll take us in a bleak direction. They’ll steal away our joy, our hope and our self-confidence. Fixating on the negatives will have you believing them and defining yourself accordingly. Individual mistakes don’t make you a failure. Disappointments don’t mean you’re defeated. Obstacles don’t mean you’re off-course.
Ultimately, we have to be our own personal spin-doctors. Not deluding ourselves into thinking we’re something we’re not, not sweeping uncomfortable truths under the carpets of our souls, but taking control of the narrative. If in doubt, give preference to the positive. Be kind to yourself. We all do self-talk, so we might as well make it sympathetic.
Whatever has happened today, learn from the bad, be grateful for the good, and keep it all in perspective. Don’t let negative experiences, words or emotions dominate your narrative, or they’ll be sabotage the story of your life. Own the positives, claim the victories, no matter how small, and keep the faith.
Does your self-talk need some improvement? How can you be more balanced in thinking about each day? Own your personal narrative.
January’s Lesson: Don’t Worry About Tomorrow, God is Already There.
February’s Lesson: Inconsistent Parents Raise Insecure Children.
March’s Lesson: Thank God for what He is going to do, even though you don’t know how He is going to do it.
April’s Lesson: Dream Big but Start Small.
May’s Lesson: Ambition is the path to success; persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.
June’s Lesson: Stop thinking about what you don’t have and start using what you do have.
July’s Lesson: Be king, for everyone is facing a great battle.
August’s Lesson: It’s the things that no one sees which result in the blessings everyone wants.
September’s Lesson: Your life will move in the direction of what you think about most.
Come back tomorrow for November’s Lesson. Even better, subscribe to my blog by email and never miss another post.