Kindra Hall is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, a storytelling expert, and the bestselling author of Stories That Stick. She is President and Chief Storytelling Officer at Stellar Collective, a communications consulting firm, and a contributing editor for Success magazine. Her clients have included Facebook, Hilton Hotels, Tyson Foods, and Harvard Medical School.
Below, Kindra shares 5 key insights from her new book, Choose Your Story, Change Your Life: Silence Your Inner Critic and Rewrite Your Life from the Inside Out. Listen to the audio version—read by Kindra herself—in the Next Big Idea App.
1. You are the world’s most prolific storyteller.
You may not realize this, but you are telling yourself a story right now. In fact, we are all wired to tell stories. Our ancient ancestors used stories to create meaning in their lives and prepare a legacy that they reinforced each day.
The stories you tell yourself are who you become. We all have an inner storyteller—you may think of it as your inner critic or simply self-talk, but our inner storyteller is as unique as our fingerprint.
These self-stories are so ingrained in our daily routine that we don’t even notice them. It is a habit and, like all habits, they can be good or bad. I call these “invisible stories” because they are on the edge of your peripheral consciousness, where you don’t really see them anymore. You only catch glimpses of these stories from time to time.
Each of these stories is serving an important purpose, and that is to protect you. The stories we tell ourselves make sure that the actions we take (or don’t take) keep us safe. They provide security in the places where we are most vulnerable. Therefore, your stories are also keeping you stuck. The security of a job you don’t like or a relationship that is no longer serving you feels safer than risking another path—or telling a different story.
“The stories you tell yourself are who you become.”
2. Awareness is the first step to changing everything.
It is important to be aware that while the stories you tell yourself are creating your life, those same stories are often rooted in fear. Your inner storyteller leads with extreme caution toward safety—which is likely leading you in circles, stuck in familiar places, but far from where you dream to go.
Your storyteller works in secret, just beneath the surface of your awareness, but every now and then, that inner storyteller pops up for a brief moment. I call these “iceberg moments,” which serve as clues to your self-stories. When you learn to notice them, you begin the process of changing your life.
In fact, the first step of the four-step storyteller process is dedicated to giving you tools to catch self-stories in the act. Since our self-stories are most often rooted in fear, the first stories you think of may be particularly negative. Catching these stories is the first step toward freeing your mind to achieve and receive more out of life.
3. Release, rather than reinforce.
When you begin learning how to catch self-stories, it is important to know that you aren’t meant to spend a lot of time in those stories. This process is not designed to give those stories more power; rather, it is to confront the negative story, acknowledge the power it had, and release it. The storytelling process is a judgment-free zone.
There are six questions to walk through with each story that you find, and such inquiry reveals why that story exists. Even the small stories we think “don’t really matter anymore” very much do matter. It isn’t the size of the story, or the event itself, that matters; it is the size of the emotion attached to the story.
“It isn’t the size of the story, or the event itself, that matters; it is the size of the emotion attached to the story.”
Once you begin understanding the stories running wild below the surface of your consciousness, you’re in a position to change them and replace them with a story that will serve you in the most important areas of your life.
4. This is a story about triumph.
Your whole life, you have been doing amazing things. The positive stories in your life greatly outnumber the bad stories, but we tend to give preference to the bad ones. However, you have the power of choice to change that preference. To choose is to gain control over your stories, and, in turn, your future.
This is when you learn to seek out and amplify the stories that serve you—the stories that motivate you to take the actions that will lead to the results that you desire, until your life becomes one that you love.
There are five ways to choose better stories, and these methods will leave you with an endless supply of positive self-story options. Then, you will move through four approaches for installing those new, better, chosen stories so that they are the ones that stick. When your storyteller brain is automating messages, it will be your chosen stories that it’s telling, because you have intentionally installed those chosen stories as your inner-narrative default.
5. Our stories exist in five essential areas of our life.
Once you’ve found and analyzed your inner stories, you will work through stories in the five key areas of your life: business and career, health and wellness, money and finance, relationships and love, and family and parenting.
“It’s time to uncover the stories that have held you back, and learn to create a new path.”
Changing the story of your life by changing the voice in your head means changing the way you are on the inside in order to change reality on the outside. If you’re dissatisfied with your financial life, for example, there’s a (mostly) hidden story that needs rewriting. Not happy with your romantic life? There’s a story there, too. Your health? Yep, another story.
My book introduces five amazing people that share their journey in one of each of these key areas, demonstrating how empowering this process is. An entrepreneur used a story from her childhood to reach her business goals. A woman discovered why she sabotaged relationships and found her way back to love. They found hidden triggers to create a healthier lifestyle.
It’s time to uncover the stories that have held you back, and learn to create a new path—a path that you own and control, a path that you lay brick by brick, story by story. In time, you will become the author of your own life.
To listen to the audio version read by author Kindra Hall, download the Next Big Idea App today: