To Be Happier at Work, Tell Yourself a Different Story.

How do you feel about yourself? How is the leader? Someone who doesn’t take any abominations? Weak?

Now ask yourself: Does this kind of thinking have a negative or positive effect on your life? What needs to be done to change these stories?

According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review , humans crave coherence, and the most powerful way our brains create coherence is through unconscious storytelling, “bringing together our inner experiences and what we observe in our environment through an automated storytelling process. explaining why we and others do what we do. ” We repeat these stories to ourselves, and they create our reality.

This is beneficial in many ways, but it can also damage our well-being if the stories we tell ourselves block growth and happiness. “Instead of accepting our stories for the constructs that they are, we may misinterpret them as immutable truths, like ‘the way things are,’” writes HBR. These stories, in turn, influence our decision-making at work and in life.

While it can be difficult to free ourselves from the stories we repeat to ourselves, sometimes it is necessary to rewrite them. If you show up to work every day expecting your coworkers to be rude to you, or to ignore your ideas, for example, you are much more likely to face neglect at every turn. If you have an idea in your head that the job is supposed to be an unpleasant tedious job, you just have to get through it, well, it probably will.

The narrative shift you tell yourself may not change all of this (sometimes people are really terrible), but it is a step towards making yourself happier, more relaxed, and more productive. What if you are not who you think you are?

How to rewrite your history

So how can you change your point of view? According to HBR, the first step is to identify and work through the stories you tell about yourself and others:

It will help you understand what you stand for and why you act and react the way you do. Identify the personal or collective problem you are facing. What is the main story you tell yourself about this problem?

If, for example, you are having trouble communicating with your boss, ask yourself why you think so. Do you consider yourself a good listener and your boss a bulldozer so you don’t even try to talk to them about your problems?

So, is this story “holding you back or freeing” you? In the example above, your story clearly limits you: you are not working with your boss, you may be missing out on important assignments or opportunities because you are too frustrated to even try to work with them. Look for the gap between what you want (the big assignment) and the story you are using to justify your current behavior.

Once you’ve identified the challenges and the underlying story that limits you, “the next step is to think about what you would like to change and how your story needs to change to help you make the transition,” suggests HBR. You can keep some elements of your story – say, that you are an ambitious, diligent worker – as guiding principles, let go of others, and add new storylines.

It means thinking about all your values ​​in order to build a new, liberating story. Now, for example, you value a martyrdom in the workplace. But think about how this story will affect your work and your life in general – what would happen if you instead saw yourself as an equal participant whose opinion and work were valued? In what role could you see yourself then?

“Re-creating our stories to help us move in the direction we want to go is a process of choice and deliberate reflection,” writes HBR. “The reward for this is a heightened sense of humanity, coherence and freedom.”


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