When you think of the people who have had the greatest influence in your life, who comes to mind? A parent? Teacher? Professional mentor? Spouse? Dear friend? While these individuals undoubtedly played a significant role in your development - and may continue to provide guidance - there is no single voice you hear more frequently or clearly than your own.
Few of us walk down the street airing our internal debates at full volume, but we all narrate our own life story. We constantly assess the people we encounter, ascribing motives and assigning the labels of hero and antagonist as it suits our present circumstances. We also turn the focus inward: evaluating ourselves, justifying our poor decisions, puffing up with pride when we are successful and slouching out of sight when we fall short. Over time, the narrative we have created colors our perceptions and shapes our responses.
This tendency is perfectly natural: we all have an inherent desire to find a larger meaning in our personal story. But we must careful with what we add to - or subtract from - reality.
Next time you find yourself lost in thought or inner dialogue, pause to evaluate whether the narrative you are creating is helpful - or even true. If it isn't, stop the conversation, honestly evaluate what you see and hear, and move forward with open eyes and an open mind.
Can you be a positive influence on yourself today?