We all have that little voice in our head that pushes us to keep going when something is important or warns us when something doesn’t feel quite right. But have you ever felt like that little voice has steered you wrong?
That may just be one of your toxic stories.
This month, the Women’s Leadership Today Book Club read “Transform Your Stories” by Ashley Cox, a book all about identifying and reframing your toxic stories. What is a toxic story? Firstly, Ashley defines a “story” as, “an idea we hold about our abilities, skills, knowledge, self-worth, place in this world, or purpose in life.” She goes on to explain, “Some stories are founded in truth; we concoct other stories based upon our fears, insecurities, and doubts.” These fearful, insecure stories – the ones that are holding us back from reaching our full potential – those are our toxic stories.
We all experience toxic stories. Some we tell ourselves after a bad experience. If you wake up late in the morning and get stuck in traffic on your way to work, you may tell yourself, “this is going to be a bad day!” But other stories we hold onto for far longer, based on past experiences, falsehoods we have inherited or learned from the people in our lives, and even society. Especially as women, we learn these stories from a young age:
- Women are over-emotional
- Women are indecisive
- Women shouldn’t be abrasive or assertive (lest they be branded the dishonorable “bossy”)
Many of us hear these stories so often, we start to believe they must be true. Furthermore, they become toxic stories that we carry with us, which hold us back. For example, have you ever wanted to correct a team member or give constructive criticism at work and thought to yourself, I don’t want to be rude? Or, maybe you’ve felt strongly about a conflict at work but couldn’t face it, because you don’t want to be perceived as overly emotional. Actively living out these learned toxic stories may be your reality, whether you recognize it or not!
Throughout the book, Ashley gives the readers tips, tools, and even journaling prompts (with space to actually write down your thoughts in the moment). These solutions will help you identify and reframe your toxic stories that hold you back, to then transform them into healthy stories that boost your confidence as well as drive you towards progress.
When asked on our Women’s Leadership Today Podcast if this process can help us build our grit (our theme for July!), Ashley stated, ”when we embody who we were truly meant to be, and we don’t buy into the stories that we have created ourselves or society has created for us, we get to live in passion more. We get to embody that desire, that drive, to bring something to life that maybe wouldn’t have otherwise been available to us.” By transforming our stories into healthy, empowering stories, we foster the ability we had all along to persevere over our personal roadblocks and pursue our inner passions.
All in all, I can’t recommend this book enough. Just taking the time to read through and work through the prompts within has opened my mind to my own ever day toxic stories. Working through them can be really challenging, and you shouldn’t have to go it alone. You deserve to live your passion and live your full potential! “Transform Your Stories” by Ashley Cox will certainly help you take that daunting first step, to becoming a more courageous leader and impacting the world.