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I used to be a big fan of soap operas growing up.

No kidding, when I was 4 years old, I knew all of the characters and plot lines of Days of Our Lives. To this day, even though I haven’t watched it in years, I could still tell you all about Hope and Bo and John and Marlena and the villainous Stefano.

I loved how ridiculous they were … people “died” on a regular basis, and just as quickly came back to life. Shocking pregnancies were par for the course. Dramatic cases of amnesia happened every other day. And no one ever worked! They just looked fabulous and had intense conversations over lunch.

And while I definitely wouldn’t recommend modeling your life after most of those plot lines, there’s something about the regular bouts of amnesia that’s worth considering.

I HEAR CERTAIN STORIES ON REPEAT

Humans are pretty reliable. If we get programmed a certain way, we’ll continue spitting out the same results, over and over again, until the programming changes.

Our “programming” is the stories we’re intent on telling … the beliefs that we think make us who we are:

I hate my job. I’ve never had enough money. I’m not athletic, so I’ll never be good at exercise. I’m not a confident person. I’ve always struggled with anxiety. It’s so hard to find a job that you love. No one will ever want to marry me. I’ve never believed I was good enough.”

I’ve told myself every one of those things at some point in my life. And I’ve heard countless clients share the same exact worn-out stories. Most of us think because something feels true, or because it’s always happened the same way, that it’s bound to continue.

BUT WHAT IF YOU JUST … FORGOT?

Though Days of Our Lives would have you believe that amnesia is an everyday occurrence, it’s obviously pretty rare. But! Humor me for a moment, will you?

Let’s imagine that 2 years from now, you’re walking down the street and you slip and fall. You hit your head, hard. Lights out.

You wake up in the hospital, and the last 2 years of your life are a complete blank. Everything that happened between today and 2 years from now is gone.

Your best friend is there, and she tells you some crazy stuff:

“Oh, you love working out now! You totally got over your issues with exercise. You’ve got all this energy, it’s insane. And you make so much money now … it’s totally normal for you to ask for what you deserve, and you earn a lot. You go on vacation all the time. You’re so much calmer lately, too. You hardly resemble that anxious person you used to be. You’re so fun to be around because you make everyone else feel so good. You’re probably the most confident person I know.”

Hot damn! Why didn’t I have amnesia earlier??

But seriously … you would very likely accept this as true, because you have nothing else to go on.

How exciting would it be to wake up and realize that you’d been completely wrong about the negative, sad-sap stories you’d been telling yourself? That everything you feared would never change, did?

YOU DON’T NEED TO FALL AND HIT YOUR HEAD TO CHANGE THE PLOT OF YOUR LIFE

I hate (actually, I love) to break it to you, but … the only reason the disempowering story you’ve been telling yourself continues on is because you insist on telling it over and over again.

After all, a belief is a thought you just keep thinking.

If every day you wake up and say, “I’m not a confident person,” then you will continue to feel like crap, you’ll act accordingly, and your story will continue to be “true.”

Same goes with, “But I’ve never gotten a good result before, so I shouldn’t expect one in the future.” If that’s your assumption, then of course it’s going to keep happening.

Now, I wouldn’t want to hit you over the head and bring on massive amnesia. The downside to having a blank slate is that all of the good memories would disappear, too.

But how about selective amnesia? I can get down with that.

What if you woke up every day and chose to “forget” about what you told yourself yesterday? What if you conveniently forgot that you’d ever believed you were insecure or lacking in confidence? What if you failed to remember all of the times you’d been unsuccessful?

I’m not saying any of this because I actually believe that it’s possible to forget the old story. More so to emphasize the point … that what you give your attention to matters, and for that reason, we should soften our focus a bit on the old stories we tell.

NO, THIS ISN’T DENIAL

A lot of people, at this point, will ask something along the lines of, “But if it’s true and it happened, then I can’t pretend it didn’t. Isn’t that the same thing as being in denial?”

And to that I ask two questions:

  1. But IS it actually true?? What’s the definition of “true,” anyway? Just because you insist on believing something doesn’t make it true. And just because you think you have “evidence” for something doesn’t mean you actually do. A lot of the time our “evidence” isn’t factual. It’s just confirmation bias that we’re unconsciously seeking out in order to prove ourselves “right.”
  1. Regardless of what’s “true,” what’s the point of focusing so sharply on your old story if all it does is make you feel lousy and prevent you from getting what you want?

No, it’s not “being in denial” to ease your attention from the things that feel disempowering. It’s actually the smartest thing you could do for yourself.

Because when you don’t remember all of the times you failed, or everything that made you feel uncomfortable or insecure, or all of the jobs you’ve hated in your life … then you’re free.

You’re no longer trapped by the same old tale and using that as your justification for not doing anything different. You’re free to focus your attention on what feels good.

There’s no point to having a fantastic long-term memory if you’re going to use it to remind yourself of how powerless you are and how much things suck. So please, go ahead and forget. At least a little. Wake up and remember something better, and way more true … I’m not the story I’ve been telling myself. I’m much more, and I’m free.

So what do you think? I bet you never thought “forgetfulness” would be good thing to have, huh? I’d love to hear what you think about selective amnesia, in the comments.

Much Love,

Rachel (& Kristen)

NEED HELP FORGETTING YOUR OLD HABITS?

We get it. It’s one thing to say, “Hey, what if you just forgot about all the times you failed and how often you’ve felt not good enough and hopeless?” It’s quite another to actually change that pattern, especially on your own.

If you’ve reached a point where you’re ready to stop hoping things will change and start knowing that they’ll change AND …

If you want individual attention, someone to hold you accountable, and the benefit of our substantial experience focused solely on you … all so that you can make more progress in a matter of months than you’d make in years on your own, then 1-on-1 coaching may be ideal for you.

Get clear on the details and reach out to us to talk about coaching here.

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  1. This is a challenging one for me to tackle, but I think it might be holding me back. For the most part, I have been highly regarded and appreciated in my work roles. But, just once, I had a position that did not work out. The manager that I reported to and I had clashing personalities. I often pride myself on being able to relate, at least professionally, with just about anyone. Well, I ended up leaving this position after 5 months. But ever since that time, which was about 6 years ago now, I doubt myself in a way that I never did before. I wonder if because of this subconscience self doubt, I actually sabotage my performance in interviews. I have gotten so comfortable where I am at right now in my current position that I am afraid of failing somewhere else because of that one time. I have gone on many interviews over the last 6 years and gotten second interviews many times but not the job offer.

  2. It was an amazing blog and it made me realise few things I didn’t had the courage to acknowledge but I guess I do….it’s just that someone you need to hear the ri8 words. .Anyway Thx

  3. I love this. I’m going to try to work on this. However, I fear what will happen when someone challenges my “selective amnesia”. Like, I can say, “I’m confident” all I want but when someone tears me down at work or something, I know my own proclamation won’t protect my feelings. I think this is really what is screwing with me lately. I shouldn’t care what others think and I generally don’t but my self-worth is really low and any sort of challenge to this might go poorly.

    How long is the coaching sign-up going to be around? I was thinking about applying but I’m going away for over a week next month and wasn’t sure it was a good idea.

    1. Hey Gillian,

      I think the very statement you make in this comment (“My self-worth is really low”) is one of those things you should be seriously questioning and applying the whole “selective amnesia” thing to. There’s a good chance your self-worth is really low because you’ve been saying it for years and finding evidence of it for years — not because it’s true. And anyway — Why are other people more of an expert on you than you are? Why are other people telling you that you’re not confident or not good enough more trustworthy and reliable than you are? (Hint — they’re not. You’re the best expert on you).

      And there’s no deadline on the 1-on-1 coaching thing! You can contact us at any time about that. 🙂

  4. Hi Rachel and Kristen, I love reading your blogs as they contain enlightening new viewpoints, are fun to read and stand out above other blogs. Thank you for your fresh perspectives on issues women face in life. Continue . . . . You’re making a difference!! With love, Jeanne

  5. Hi Rachel,

    Not sure why it’s not letting me reply directly to you. Thank you for the reply.

    I did a meditation a few months ago to help with self-confidence and it worked for the most part. But I would go into my office and be undermined in every way which then took a toll on the confidence in myself that was built up. It’s not that people are telling me I’m not confident but they are telling me I’m not good at what I know I’m good at because of a variety of reasons (my supervisor is the worst). How do you combat that?

    I try not to care so much because I’m not into my job anyway but it still hurts when you’re doing the best you can and someone constantly criticizes you.

    Thank you,
    Gillian

    1. Hey Gillian!

      It’s understandable that you feel demoralized. Regardless of how good you are at something, it’s not fun to have someone constantly naysaying you. That’d be annoying for anyone, I’m sure. That said, I think you pointed out something important in your reply–your supervisor is “the worst.” That pretty much proves that this isn’t about you at all. It’s about someone else’s issues and faulty leadership! Obviously without knowing much about the situation it’s difficult to give a nuanced interpretation, but part of me wonders how much you’ve called this BS out, directly. How much have you said, “Um, ACTUALLY I’m quite good at what I do. This situation is just wack, thank you very much.” Or how much have you attempted to suggest changes to the way things are done? Not that it’s necessarily your responsibility to push back or try to overhaul things. And you may not have the power to do so. But I do wonder how much sh*t you might not need to be taking!

  6. Haha… I do a little bit of that now. I went a year without a phone and it was nice. Now that I’m back to incorporating it back in my life, I still say I don’t have a phone (number that I want to give you)… they just don’t hear the last part in parentheses.

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