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The Power Of The Stories You Tell Yourself

Which story do you tell yourself?

Here’s an amazing story that inspires me –

Mike Tyson is considered to be one of the greatest boxing champions of all time. In 1990, in Tokyo, he had a World Championship Match against James "Buster" Douglas.

No one believed that Douglas could win. Tyson had been dominating the boxing arena; most of his opponents could not even survive until the 5th round!

Everyone thought that Douglas had a very little chance of winning. Nearly every betting parlour in Las Vegas refused to put money on the fight. The Mirage was the only casino to toss up, making Douglas a 42-to-1 underdog.

In the 8th round, Tyson landed a right uppercut that knocked Douglas down. The referee counted till 9 but at the very last second, Douglas managed to get up and continued the fight.

Right after that in the 9th round, Tyson became super aggressive. He just wanted to finish the fight quickly. However Douglas managed to survive the 9th round and in the 10th, Douglas won the match!  This victory turned out to be one of the greatest and most sensational results in the entire history of boxing. It caught everyone by surprise!

Later on, Douglas was asked THE Million $ question – “How did you to win?”

Everyone was eager to know the answer.

Douglas answered by revealing a story. He said that no one believed in him apart from his mother. She always told him that he can achieve everything that he wants and believes in. She believed that he could become the boxing champion and could beat Tyson one day!

23 days prior to this match, his mother died. That’s when Douglas told himself that he would honour his mother with this victory. He felt that his mother was looking out for him from above.

He wanted to make her proud by fulfilling her expectations. This is the story that Douglas told himself which inspired him to make the impossible, possible.

Why is it important to tell ourselves stories?

The stories that we tell to ourselves hold tremendous value. These are the stories with a deep belief that you have about yourself and your life. Such a story may not be truly objective but if you believe in it, it will be true for you.  Because you will act accordingly and you will get the result. This is essentially what the ‘Law of Attraction’ asserts.

Here is another interesting example of ‘Why are stories really powerful’ and ‘How can they make or break your life.’

This story is about my friend who is very successful, young woman. She is in her early thirties and is doing very well in her career. However, she is alone and can't find a great family. When we discussed this, she said, “Nowadays the old-style romantic relationships are hardly possible.

The world is moving forward very quickly and everything is happening at a rapid pace. People are becoming more practical and sexually liberated. That’s why nowadays it’s really difficult to create a stable family.”

Do you or someone you know have the same belief?

Is this belief really true?

According to the statistics, the divorce rate in the US was about 50% during the early 80s. Today, it has dropped to 40%. This indicates that nowadays, there is a greater chance of having a stable family. That is, it's actually easier today to create a firm family than it used to be earlier.

However, the story this woman is believing in will be true for herself even though it is incorrect objectively. Believing in a negative story can prevent you from living a great and happier life.

Now I will share the final story. This story is quite interesting because it has positive as well as a negative aspect.

I have always been fascinated with the stories of successful people. It is very motivating to notice the patterns and strategies that allowed them to reach this level of achievement.

I studied the story of David Goggins who is the former Navy SEAL. He is known as the toughest man alive. He has run for many ultra-marathons (100 miles marathon). Among his many accomplishments, he has a world record for the maximum number of pull-ups made in 24 hours.

On the one hand, he has a long list of various unbelievable accomplishments. But on the other, somehow on every step of the way, he has hurt himself significantly. He has suffered from numerous injuries and it was really hard for him to recover.

Yes, professional sport is a tough thing. Besides, often athletes end up with certain injuries. However, in the case of Goggins, it was more severe than usual.

I was curious to know why.

I finally figured it out when I was watching one of his interviews. He said in the interview, that before all of his accomplishments, he was a broke, overweight and an insecure person. When he watched the movie, Rocky, where Sylvester Stallone played the role of the boxer, it inspired him for all the great accomplishments.

But there was a particular fragment in this movie that he watched repetitively. That fragment was the decisive moment in the movie where the Rocky played by Sylvester Stallone was fighting at Boxing Championship match and he was knocked down. Laying on the ground, he was bleeding. Everyone thought that it was over. But he found the courage to get up and continue the fight. Ultimately, he won.

This moment was so encouraging for Goggins that he watched it numerously. He took it as an inspiration to get up in life and start striving to become the winner.

This story propelled him towards success. But at the same time, there was an element in the movie that said ‘you have to suffer and go through injuries in order to be successful.  When no one around believes that it's possible, you will still make it possible.’ This is what he learned from the movie. Therefore, later on in his life, he continued to follow the same pattern every time.

Though on the one hand, he had a lot of accomplishments in life. But on the other hand, he bled and suffered from repeated injuries. Hence, the stories you tell yourselves have the tremendous power to make or break your life.

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it.” — Jordan Belfort (famous actor)

Now, we come to the most critical questions -

What is the story that you keep telling yourself?

Do you have a story that energizes you to move forward and achieve everything that you want from life?

Possibly you have stories which are holding you back. If that’s the case, it’s time to rewrite them.

Perhaps,  it could be that you don't have any kind of a story. So, this is the right time for you to create a kind of story which doesn’t have to be truly objective. However, if that’s the story you keep telling yourself, it will become true in your life.

Igor Smirnov

Igor Smirnov

Psychologist, blogger, chess Grandmaster, Internet entrepreneur. Follow Igor on Facebook

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