“My big take away is re-writing my story.”

That was the feedback one of my delegates shared at the end of a recent workshop. Maureen had spent years believing her self-limiting stories that held her back from shining at interviews, presentations and in meetings. She had all the expertise, qualifications, and competence but lacked the self-belief. She found it uncomfortable to speak up at senior leadership meetings, manage those difficult conversations and negotiate her value and so lost out on key career opportunities. She was told she lacked personal impact.

Maureen is not the first client who has openly shared how her stories, inner critic voice or limiting beliefs have held her back. So many of us allow our unconscious, unhealthy broken record of self-deprecating thoughts to take centre stage in our lives. We tell ourselves we are “not good enough”, “clever enough” or “capable enough”. We believe we are flawed, a fraud and an impostor waiting to be found out. We do not think to question those limiting stories and so unconsciously give them power over our behaviour, responses and actions.

The reality is that as human beings, we all experience the inner critic voice. I have worked with Executives and CEOs who have shared their limiting beliefs and how they have struggled to manage them in spite of their huge successes and fame.

Most of us believe our stories. Some of us learn to manage our beliefs and a growing number of us see our negative stories for what they are – limitations to our huge potential. This last group are able to observe their story so as not to fuse with it and give their power away. This comes with awareness, investigation and mindful practice.

What if you could tell yourself a more empowering story?

What if you could put those stories under a microscope and see them for what they really are?

What if, like a lawyer, you could investigate each piece of evidence and find the holes and gaps in your fictitious stories?

Here are 3 things you can do to start the journey of rewriting your story.

1) Write each story down

Every time you notice your negative thoughts, capture them. Believe me, you will find a handful of familiar ones that repeat themselves over and over again. They have carved well-trodden neural pathways in your brain and will continue to hold onto you till you see them for what they are – empty stories.

Here are 3 things you can do to start the journey of rewriting your story.

2) Examine each thought from a positive perspective

Investigate each one of your unhelpful stories as if they were a case study. Are they true? For example, Maureen believed the story that she was “not good enough”. We looked at evidence of where she has been “good enough”. You will be surprised when you focus on your strengths, how much you can uncover both from a subjective and objective perspective. Explore your Performance reviews and 360-degree feedback. Don’t focus on the one thing you could have done better and ignore all the positive insights, attributes and accomplishments you have achieved. We all do it, so resist that urge! Take note of your successes and any verbal and e-mail validation from peers, seniors, customers, clients or direct reports. Collate your new story. Ask for honest feedback from those you trust at work and those who may mentor or sponsor you. This will build a robust, reliable and comprehensive picture of your strengths, capabilities and attributes and prove to your inner critic voice that you are far more powerful than the limiting beliefs it prescribes to you. It does not have to take long to accumulate evidence to build a new, empowering picture of yourself but it does take regular practice. Over time a positive self- perception will emerge and outweigh the negative voices that hold you back. You will start having a more balanced view of yourself and in time a new record will play in your mind. The difference it makes will affect how positively you show up in life!

3) Reframe your Story, Belief or Thought

Once you have collected your evidence, successes and data, reframe your story. What would be a more empowering and fact-based statement that is true about you? For Maureen it was “I am worthy to be at this table. My specialised insights add a perspective that nobody else has in this room.” This was true. Nobody else in that room had her expertise. This gave her the courage and confidence to take her space at senior meetings, speak up and add the value she knew would make the difference to the discussions and the decisions. Her opinions and contributions mattered! She needed to realise it and not get in her own way.

So, what is your limiting story? What do you say to yourself that holds you back from taking that next step and accessing your full potential?

How can you re-write your story so you too can carve new and empowering neural pathways in your brain? You don’t have to suppress your inner voice, but you do need to be aware of its power and be brave enough to change its perspective of you.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, stories, and how you manage your inner critic voice.