Taking Charge of My Life by Telling Myself a Better “Personal-Story”

I have been having trouble with some negative self talk lately, and it’s getting out of hand. I have discussed this problem on my blog before, but I am finding this a constant struggle. I have recently split with my partner, whom I loved very much, and I am still feeling very emotional and distraught.

Broken heart syndrome

I actually read an article about “broken heart syndrome” where a perfectly healthy 34 year old man had a heart attack after his partner left him. He just passed out at work one day, and doctors discovered that he seemed to have a temporary inflammatory heart disease. This was affecting his heart muscle, and he had a mini-heart attack.

Wait…you can actually DIE from a broken heart?

I am serious. Read it for yourself! I honestly have been wondering if I have this syndrome, but I feel too silly to go to the doctor about it. I think the problem has been that I have been negatively talking to myself about this situation, and making it harder for myself to move on. I have been toiling over the things I did wrong, stewing over some things I think he did wrong, and generally obsessing in a way that has made the last few weeks absolute hell.

Negative talk: I don’t mean to do this. I just can’t seem to stop.

sad finger

I found a great post on one of my favourite blogs Penelope Trunk, where she talks about “Managing your image by telling good stories”. She is talking about this from a work/careers aspect, but it resonated with me – thinking that this technique would certainly work for relationships too. She suggests to talk about yourself how you want yourself to be and to focus on the future, rather than where you have just been.

Penelope says: The stories we tell make an enormous difference in how we cope with change.

I will directly quote from the article here: Creating a story that resonates helps us believe in ourselves. We need a good story to reassure us that our plans make sense — that, in [making our next step], we are not discarding everything we have worked so hard to accomplish. A story gives us motivation to help us endure frustration, suffering and hard work.

Tell people about your new life

So, I have decided to work on my inner story, and to change the dialogue to something more positive. It’s not enough to just speak to yourself, either. Apparently to really make these changes real, you need to envision yourself in a new phase of your life by telling people about it.

I am in a New Phase of My Life

(And so are you!)

Here’s what I used to say, and what I am saying to myself now instead:

The Old Story The New Story
I feel so sad to be   alone I am surrounded by   people who love me
I have been rejected I have freed myself   to walk new paths
I miss this   person I am whole as myself
I am angry about   things that have happened I let go of past   hurt
I am guilty about   the things I did wrong I truly forgive   myself
He left me We mutually decided   to split, because we were both unhappy


Taking charge of my life and my emotions

And you know what? The “New Story” is actually far more accurate anyway! I have been feeling bad because I have been indulging these feelings (whether subconsciously or consciously) and telling myself a negative story. I am now taking charge of my life, not just reacting to what comes along.

Getting to my next point

Because my story is not over, far from it. There will be other lovers and other cuddles, more days and nights, more happy times and sad. I continue to live, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to open my heart just a little bit more.

Photos by by pinprick and swpave : thanks!

  1. May 9, 2013

    I too am in the same place (and bad head space). I know all of the right things to do and say to heal and “move on” – my problem is that I love the guy more than anything in the world! We were together on and off (more on than off) for 7 years. That’s a long time! I’m refusing to let him go and it can wring the heart out, as you know. It’s cruel abuse to the “self” to hold on to memories and force yourself to stay chained to a ghost. I do it every day. Anyway, I know how you feel- and it bites. It’s good that you’re learning new coping mechanisms- they do work- if you work them. Hope all goes well in future days. (Photography is my therapy.) :0)

    1. May 9, 2013

      Chained to a ghost – what a beautiful way to put it. I saw my lover on the weekend and I could see that the little love ghost I craved was now missing in him – and I was loving a phantom.

      The hard part is that my heart is still pumping, and I feel like I have to kill off this little love ghost in my heart. Every day it cries and screams. Sometimes it beats its little fists on my chest. Sometimes it just whimpers.

      It’s begging me not to let it die. Can’t you just let me live for one more day? It says.

      It’s been torture feeling this little creature die slowly. But she is. But it really, really hurts.

      Good luck to you. Thanks for the tip on photography – I should give that a try!

  2. May 9, 2013

    You’re welcome- I have a tab called “Phototherapy” -it may be helpful to you. Whenever I’m feeling black- completely black inside- “no words” kind of pain (you know the drill) I grab my camera and head outside. The reason is this: we feel mastered by our environments, you know? Our heartache, our troubles, our stressors, other people- just “life” in general. The fact that our environments shape us forcibly make us feel as if we lack control. And, that creates more stress and frustration. I’ve discovered over the years as a photographer, through trial and time, really, that when I go out and survey a scene and compose the shot- and adjust the lighting (in camera) and twist the lens and manipulate the exposure of my surroundings and subjects- then I’m controlling my environment- it’s not controlling me. Even for just that moment. It’s a creative process and it forces me to see things differently. I have to focus on “the scene” or the subject (abandoned houses, trees, self portraits- whatever they are) rather than myself and it gets me out of my head. (Not a good place to be sometimes!) I’m turning the tables on my despair. It works and I’m speaking from years of experience. :0) After I’ve come through the darkness and time has passed- I have the photos to show where I’ve been, what I’ve come through- and I’ve turned the pain into something productive. That’s why I call it “phototherapy”. Yes, definitely give it a try. It’s empowering and I promise it’ll help carry you through this bitter time.

    Something else that might help you is this: consider yourself a photographer already and an artist. Say it, think it, believe it and step into those shoes. Give yourself the outline and then simply colour in the details with your new hobby. It’ll be a very welcome distraction and you’d be surprised at what the gift will teach you! Your eyes and hands have new things they want to show you. :0) They’re my closest friends. Keep me posted. 😉 (And on the other side of that coin- take vitamins, especially during the next few weeks and drink plenty of herbal teas: ginger, green, chamomile.)


    1. May 9, 2013

      I will definitely be checking that out. I’m a copywriter and have been writing course descriptions for photography all day.

      Your comment meant a lot to me today. Thank you. All the best from my heart to yours.

  3. May 9, 2013

    I make myself feel better by creating characters whose lives are way more messed up than mine. 🙂 Honestly, I think creativity is the cure to anything.

    1. May 9, 2013

      Good good good one. I seriously should try that technique. Great advice!

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