I told myself a story, when I was in year 9, and it had a horrible consequence that lasted for years. Shall I tell you?
I was in an English exam. I had written about 3/4 of a page when I got a mental block. It’s true that I have dyslexia and I have always had challenges with spelling, because letters seem to flip around and other weird things happen in the space between my eyes, brain and mouth. But this day, I had forgotten how to spell ‘the’.
You know what I did in that moment? I told myself that I can’t spell and from that moment on I was not able to read or write. I became illiterate. Do you get how odd that is? I ‘became’ illiterate. I had been literate and lost the ability because of one story I told myself, despite the evidence that I could read and write, like the 3/4 of a page of proof right there in front of me. I even forgot that I had ever read, albeit with difficulty.
It wasn’t until I was 19 years old that I challenged that story. One day I was on the freeway looking at the signs as I went past and I told myself a different story, ‘Maybe I can learn to read. I recognise all the letters, so maybe if I just let myself look at each letter one at a time I could learn to read’. And I began to read road signs and at age 21 I read my first novel.
Yes, I still have challenges to overcome. At least once a week I find the page or screen swimming or swirling, but I continue to tell myself stories that support me, like, ‘Start top left. Pay attention to one thing at a time. Just relax. You can do it”.
This is just one example of how the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and about events powerfully shape our reality.
No matter what you tell yourself, you are always right. As Henry Ford said, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”.
Our thinking creates our stories. Our stories become our beliefs. Our beliefs can literally change what happens.
The ‘placebo effect’ demonstrates how powerful our thinking is. For example, testing the placebo effect during a 40-km cycling time trial, the group who were told they were given power drinks when they didn’t, had better performance than the group who really did get the power drinks and weren’t told (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise