Tell Yourself A Different Story

The saying is true: Change your thoughts, change your life. But how, exactly, do we go about changing our thoughts?
Christi Hegstad April 7th, 2020

There’s a funny and oh-so-true meme that has made its way around the internet many times over:

History Calm Down

Pretty accurate, wouldn’t you say? 🙂

The fact is, just saying “Change how you feel” typically won’t change how you feel. We need to start with a shift in mindset.

And we need to do it in a way we can actually believe.

How To Tell A Different Story

Our thoughts and beliefs (aka, our mindset) form our feelings. In turn, our feelings fuel our actions and behaviors.

At its most basic, the formula might look something like this:




Changing our thoughts in the height of emotion can be challenging – kind of like being told to calm down when you feel anything but calm. However, with practice and a little forethought, it becomes easier.

To start forming a new approach, here’s what I suggest:

Pull out a journal, notebook, or piece of paper, and draw a line down the center forming two columns on your page.

In the left column, jot down some of the thoughts or feelings that tend to resurface for you but do not serve you. Some I’m hearing in my coaching practice these days include:

> “I am overwhelmed.”

> “I am worried about…”

> “I’ve never done this before – I don’t know how.”

Maybe even carry your notebook around with you for a while so you can record thoughts as they come.

Woman Journal Lake Book

Then, at a time when you are feeling strong, easeful, or capable, start ‘writing a new story’ in the right hand column. In other words, write a replacement sentence for each one in the left column – a statement that feels more helpful, purposeful, supportive.

Some examples:

“I am so unorganized.”  —>   “I am becoming more organized.”

Mindset shift: If a label doesn’t serve you, let it go – or rephrase it in a way that does serve you.


“Why did I waste so much time today?”   —>   “What will I do differently tomorrow?”

Mindset shift: Instead of letting your past define you, focus on how you are creating a different future.


“I don’t know how.”   —>   “I will learn as I go.”

Mindset shift: Fact is, there are countless things you haven’t known how to do in your lifetime. Recall some of those and examine how you figured them out.


“I should…”   —>   “I will.” or “I won’t.”

Mindset shift: ‘Should’ can be such a guilt-inducing word. Replace it with a decision.


“I am overwhelmed.”   —>   “One thing I can do right now is…”

Mindset shift: Sometimes the next right step can be the best frame of focus.


“I feel so stressed.”   —>   “I invite calm.”

Mindset shift: Decide what you’d like to feel instead, then focus your attention on inviting it into your life.


“I am worried about…”   —>   “I am thankful for…”

Mindset shift: In study after study, gratitude is a proven mindset-shifter and meaning-maker. Make a list of things you’re thankful for and review it / add to it daily.


“Everything feels out of control.”   —>   “What are 3 things in my control right now?”

Mindset shift: You have more within your realm of influence than you may realize. Watch for absolutes like ‘everything,’ ‘nothing,’ or ‘always,’ and learn to start questioning them. 


“I wish I could…”   —>   “I am glad I can…”

Mindset shift: Maybe due to quarantine, injury, or other circumstances, your plans have changed. Remind yourself of all you can do – maybe even things that you wouldn’t have done otherwise.


New Story Reframe


Keep it simple, and keep it believable. For example, you’ll notice I didn’t reframe “I feel so stressed” to “I never feel stress, ever!” but rather an invitation to a feeling other than stress.

The saying is true: When we change our thoughts, we change our whole experience. What thought isn’t serving you right now – and with what can you replace it? Share below or on Facebook or Instagram – you’ll be helping others, too!


Christi Hegstad, PhD, PCC is the Certified Executive + Personal Coach for difference-making achievers! Clarify your vision, free up time, and confidently reach bold goals with meaning and purpose! Contact us today for coaching, speaking, and Mastermind opportunities, or click here and fill in the blue box to join our email community.

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