Hi, friends! It’s Elizabeth here, and I am so excited to share Episode 790 of Primal Potential with you today! Primal Potential is a podcast all about you — your ability to change is not defined by yesterday and doesn’t need to wait until tomorrow. Your transformation is now, no matter what stage you find yourself in life!
We all have a lot of stress in our lives! Especially these days, when we’re still dealing with a global pandemic and a lot of uncertainty in general, it can be so challenging to manage our stress levels and keep being productive.
But I have one tip to help you get rid of stress and experience more peace in your life.
My 12 Weeks to Transformation clients know what this is because I talk to them about it all the time. And I’ll admit, I’m very early in applying this practice myself. But I’m telling you — it works.
I want you to know that a significant amount of your stress comes because you are putting yourself at the center of the story. But the truth is, you’re not at the center. You are not the center of the story — it just feels like you are because your individual perspective is the only one readily available to you.
But if you mentally remove yourself from the center of the story and realize that there are other perspectives that are just as valid as yours, I guarantee you’ll be happier. You’ll have more peace. Your relationships will get better. You’ll become a better spouse/parent/friend/sibling/employee/person.
I truly believe that this one mindset shift will genuinely help you achieve less stress and more peace in your life, and who doesn’t want that? So let’s dive in and explore this idea a little further…
What Do I Mean by “Story?”
Before I go any further, I want to clarify something — when I talk about your “story,” I don’t mean that you made anything up. I’m not referring to a fictional story that you’ve imagined for yourself. And I definitely don’t mean that you’re lying!
What I mean is this: our brains are continually processing a ton of information, and to make things easier, our brains gather all of that information into a story.
Let me walk you through an example. As I work on this episode, I’m sitting in my office. I have a couple of notes on my desk in front of me. I have my recording software going, and I can see the time spinning by on the little ticker. I have construction crew members going in and out of my house. I can see the trees blowing and my dog and a bunny out in the yard. I’m thinking, “I really hope the dog doesn’t go after the bunny.”
And as I’m looking around and listening and noticing all these things, my brain is processing them all as a story. My mind is linking all these things together, understanding the causes and effects of everything going on, and creating a narrative.
And our brains do this all the time — it’s just how we operate! It’s not good or bad; it’s human. It’s just for the sake of efficiency.
But we humans, we tend to put ourselves at the center of that story by default. It makes sense — your perspective is the only one available to you all the time. To understand someone else’s perspective, you either have to ask them, assume, or make it up altogether. But your perspective is available to you all the time.
The Problem: We Put Ourselves at the Center
Here’s the problem: we tend to put ourselves at the center of that story. And when we put ourselves at the center of the story, we forget that other people have their own perspectives.
Say, for example, you get an email at work. Maybe that email comes through, and you read it, and the tone seems harsh or aggressive or short-tempered or impolite.
When you read that email, it just rubs you the wrong way. Why is that? Is it because your coworker was rude? Maybe, but I want to suggest that it’s creating stress and frustration for you because you put yourself at the center of the story.
When you’re at the center of the story, you get frustrated because obviously this other person should have treated you more kindly, right? They should have used a nicer tone and been more respectful to you.
But here’s the thing: You’re not at the center of the story. You’re just a part of the story. And the fact is, your coworker probably thinks they’re at the center of the story the same way you do.
So while it’s easy to get frustrated and think, “Well, that person should have been more polite,” it’s important to realize that that person has their own perspective. Maybe they just received a different frustrating email, and they came across as annoyed with you without meaning to. Maybe they just wrote the email in a hurry, and so the tone sounded off. Regardless, there are many reasons why that email might have sounded rude or too harsh that have nothing to do with you.
The Solution: Take Yourself out of the Center
Here’s the point: when you get a rude email from a coworker, you have two choices:
You can believe you are the center of the story, assume your coworker meant to be rude to you, and spend your time feeling annoyed and angry.
You can take yourself out of the center of the story, realize your coworker has their own perspective and reasons for sounding frustrated that may have nothing to do with you, and move on with your day.
I know which one I’d rather choose!
By putting yourself at the center of the story, you assume that you are the center of everybody else’s story too. If you’re at the center of your coworker’s story, and they’re supposed to be aware that everything they do should revolve around you and your feelings, the only conclusion is that they intended to be rude to you. So you sit and wallow in that frustration and resentment toward that person, and you experience a lot of stress!
But if you take yourself out of the center of the story, you realize that there could be a million reasons your coworker sounded tense or harsh that have nothing at all to do with you. You realize that that person has their own perspective, and you get to move on with your day without experiencing any more stress. Doesn’t that sound nice?
Do You Feel Good or Bad?
Some of you may be thinking, “But Elizabeth, sometimes I have to put myself at the center of my story. I need to make sure I’m taking care of myself!”
That’s very true! It’s essential to take excellent care of yourself so you can remain healthy and happy. And sometimes, that means you need to prioritize yourself and make sure your needs are met first. That’s not a bad thing! It’s just a fact.
So how can you tell when you need to keep yourself at the center of the story and when you need to take yourself out? It’s simple: ask yourself, “Does this make me feel good or bad?”
In moments of self-care, keeping yourself right at the center of the story feels good. It reduces your stress because you’re focusing on your needs and practicing self-care. You feel happier, less stressed, and more peaceful.
But in other situations, keeping yourself at the center of the story actually creates stress. You experience all kinds of negative emotions that aren’t necessary because you’re not acknowledging that someone else has their own perspective.
Here’s a real-life example:
The Dirty Dishes Are Not About Me
My husband, Chris, and I have an agreement: I cook dinner, and he washes the dishes. That’s why I go to bed before he does most nights! But sometimes, he forgets to do the dishes. It happened just this morning — I was on my way out the door to take a walk, and I noticed that all the dirty dishes were still sitting on the stove.
My blood started to boil! I couldn’t believe that he didn’t do the dishes. After all, I worked a full day yesterday and then cooked our dinner. I’d held up my end of our agreement!
I was so frustrated with Chris for being so inconsiderate of me and all the hard work I’d done — and then I realized I was putting myself at the center of the story. I was assuming that Chris’ actions were totally revolving around me and my story. I was getting worked up thinking that he was being inconsiderate of me and that he should have thought more about me and my feelings before he went to bed last night.
But the truth is: Chris just forgot. He wasn’t deliberately trying to be rude to me. He was just in his own perspective. It wasn’t about me at all — it was just an honest mistake. He watched a couple of movies and went to bed and honestly forgot to wash the dishes.
When I took myself out of the center of the story, I stopped feeling angry. I stopped feeling resentment toward my husband for his mistake, and I moved on with my day feeling a lot more peaceful and a lot less stressed.
Those dirty dishes weren’t about me! They were just a simple mistake. When I took myself out of the center of the story and realized that, I felt a whole lot better.
You Are Not at the Center of the Story
Earlier today, I could have chosen to stay frustrated at Chris, but that would have created a lot more stress for me and tension in my marriage. So instead, I chose to take myself out of the center of the story, realize that Chris made a mistake, and move on with my day. I felt so much less stress and more peace — and that felt good!
Next time you’re faced with a challenging or stressful situation, ask yourself — does it make me feel good to keep myself at the center of this situation?
If it does — that’s fine! This is just an opportunity for some self-care, and you should always take good care of yourself!
But if it doesn’t feel good — if it’s creating stress and frustration for you — realize that you are not the center of the story. Remember that other people have their own perspectives, and their actions don’t always revolve around you. I guarantee you’ll feel less stress and more peace in your life.
And remember — I’m still learning how to do this too! We’re in this together. But I know that this simple mindset shift can help us all experience less stress in our lives, which we all need!
If you’d like to partner with me on a more personal level — if you’d like some extra support, a little more coaching, and accountability — I want you to get on the waitlist for our next 12 Weeks of Transformation! In this program, I work with people in a much more personal and structured way to create change. We tackle our excuses head-on and find the core values that will motivate you to take action. If you’re not sure what to do next, I encourage you to check out 12 Weeks to Transformation and get on that waitlist!Join Now
I’d also love to connect with you via text! I send out text messages with my daily mindset upgrades and daily encouragement. I know they will encourage you and empower you on your journey!
Thanks, everyone! I’m so glad you chose to join me today. Now take yourself out of the center of the story and start experiencing less stress and more peace!