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What Are the Stories You Tell Yourself?

Lesson 7 from: Embrace the Ugly: How to Break Through What’s Holding You Back in Business

Kim Werker

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Lesson Info

7. What Are the Stories You Tell Yourself?

Lesson Info

What Are the Stories You Tell Yourself?

We finished off before lunch, talking about the stories that we wrote about our ugly creature that we made earlier today and whether or not those stories related to the ugly voice and our minds, the inner critic, the negative self talk that tells us we're terrible at everything that we do now we're gonna shift focus, we're going to still be telling stories, but we're going to be telling deliberate stories. We're going to be thinking about the stories that oh it's already there the slide that's perfect thiss stories we actually tell ourselves the ones that we choose the ugly voice that's in our minds, it shouts at us all the time. Regardless, we did not invite it in. We did not say come sit down and some of the time what it says is not even something we would choose to have its say. Sometimes we can hear it for maybe the kernel of truth that's in it. But we also tell ourselves stories on purpose. We do it all the time. The simplest way that we do it is by saying things like all I'm some...

body who's really good at making cupcakes all make cupcakes for the bake sale. That's a story that we tell ourselves that is something we've chosen to believe about ourselves by story, I don't necessarily mean fiction. I don't mean that we've concocted this make believe world for ourselves. I just mean that this is a way that we describe ourselves. This is the way that we would think about ourselves, and it goes both negative and positive. I'm somebody who's great at making cupcakes. I am not somebody who's any good at it's a public speaking something like that, and these are the stories that give us they provide us the sign posts by which we navigate our lives. We make decisions based on these stories on what we're going to do today is not just think about what our stories are, but we're going to decide we're going to make some decisions about these stories, which we don't often do, because we're not really aware that there's something that we can change, but any story can change, and there are some things that we maybe want to change, and I'm going to start with a story about myself. I actually gave a talk recently about this I had this great opportunity, we talk away back at the very beginning of this class, which I know was today, but for me, it seems like it was one hundred years ago that we were talking about things that were good at and how it could be really uncomfortable to talk about what we're good at. And I said that I'm good at something that is sort of universally understood to be something that people are terrified of, and that makes me uncomfortable to say, well, I'm actually not terrified of public speaking. I find this to be really comfortable, but I'm pretty convinced that everybody in the universe will hate me when I say I'm comfortable with that. I don't throw up before I have to speak publicly, even though I know that most people do or at least feel like they will that's a story that I have chosen to amplify in my mind not I'm going to be this big jerk who says I'm the best in the world at this, but that like, yes, I will take an opportunity to speak publicly or yes, I would like this to be a part of my business more because it's something I feel confident about, and I'd like to focus on it more than things I, for example, in my field, not at all confident about, but one of the great opportunities that I have recently was too gave a talk. For an organization called creative mornings, which is a monthly morning talks years, you may have heard of it, they have chapters all over the world and there's a global theme every month, and each of the chapters has a local speaker speak about that theme, and the theme last august was failure, and my friend, who was a volunteer in the local vancouver committee, said, my friend kim does a lot of work about failure, maybe she can talk, and I was so excited about this, because excuse me, because I have a lot of opportunities to talk to crafty audiences on dh, not many opportunities to talk to more general audience is one of the reasons I'm really excited to be here today, and so I put this pressure on my said this was like a huge opportunity to speak with people in a room that wasn't in a conference that was about kraft, but that was in a room filled with people who, every month like to its end, a talk that in some way related to creativity and what would I talk about? Obviously, I would talk about mighty ugly in some way or another, because that's, the part of my business and the most excited about my book, was coming out, I knew that it would be this wise business choice to talk about that, and I drafted several talks and none of them struck me is right and none of them struck me is particularly interesting boredom and boring this is something that's been coming up all day, especially in the chat rooms this I have a fear that people will find me boring or that what I have to say is an interesting and I was really fairly well convinced that I was not saying anything new because I wasn't it wouldn't not be delivered in a way that anybody would care about and about three days or four days before the talk, I realised enough I'm done with this right now I've written a book about it might not be out yet, but I've done my thinking about this ugly stuff I really what I want to do is I want to talk about the deliberate stories that we tell ourselves because I think these are important too, and that gave me something new to talk about and I started thinking about the stories that I tell myself and have told myself my whole life and I went back to the very first one that I became aware of and I was seven and I was in this amazing second grade classroom and I had been terrified of this teacher before starting second grade you remember what that was like when you were a kid and I knew who my teacher was going to be, but she was scary like when I was in grade one I knew that this teacher was the teacher who sometimes yelled at her class and that she was fierce and she had all this energy she was not, you know, serene and calm and come gather around children she was like let's get to it right and I was terrified of her and it turned out she was amazing and I loved second grade and that some point in the second grade I was standing on a desk which is who does that? Kids are not allowed to do that I was standing on the desk and the reason I was standing on a desk is that I was building a robot out of cardboard and it was too tall for me to reach even just by standing on a chair and I have this image it's still one of the most vivid images in my mind like a still image from my childhood me standing on a desk like man handling the cardboard torso of a robot I have no idea why I was doing this not like my mom didn't phone me after I gave that talk in august to be like oh, by the way here's what you were making the cardboard robot like it remains a mystery why I was doing this and why it was totally cool for me to be standing on the desk and all those things but I wass except what I was feeling with not this is amazing I'm standing on a desk and making a robot is like the best age seven experience ever what was going through my mind was I suck at making this robot so much this robot is not what I wanted it to be I had a vision in my mind off like a jointed you know thing engineered out of cardboard at age seven and it's not doing it and no matter how hard I work it's not doing it it doesn't look right it can do it I'm not doing it and like that that's all of that is kind of encapsulated in my still memory of what that day wass and I started telling myself a story that day that I didn't realize until august when I was thinking about this in the story that I told myself that I was a person who could not make what I saw in my mind I had had a vision for a robot at age seven I did not make the robot that I saw in my mind therefore air go obviously I cannot make what I see in my mind and that was it like for twenty years I was that person I did not take art class in high school for example like from the moment they were electives to take I don't take art class because why what I because I couldn't paint what I saw in my mind, why would I even try to learn how to paint that drafting classes, which was great? I started to just identify as somebody who was a bit more engineering, then artsy and that's fed into, of course, because I'm not creative, this is what I'm going to do, and so I didn't learn any of those skills, and I didn't try anything new because I decided when I was seven f y I it's not a really good time to make decisions about the whole rest of your life when you're seven, so like, if you're seven and watching this, you're going to go talk to her parents and how waiting to make a really big blanket, too is it is about your life, because I don't know anything when I was seven, except that I have felt frustrated in that moment and what I was really bad at as a kid who was a perfectionist as a kid was telling anyone that I was troubling, I didn't know how to do that, and I didn't do that, and instead I made a decision that I didn't really become aware of until I was in my late thirties, so that's, like thirty years, I said, twenty, thirty years of, like, totally not even going to do that and that was a story. It was the story with a one line story. I'm a girl who can't make what I see in my mind, so I'm not going to try and I didn't even try to do things like abstract painting like that didn't seem like an answer to me because then I still wouldn't be able to make it looked good, and I still wouldn't be able to make it look, whatever I was, there was a couldn't there, and in thinking about this talk, I also realized that this was in kind of the end of the middle of twenty fourteen and I had been doing this year of making, which is something that has been asking me about today. What is this year of making? What did you do? And all I did was make something every day, and I realized that some one of the things that I had been doing as a part of that making every day was what my seven year old self would have considered artsy I was not on ly knitting and crushing and sewing, I was not on lee following other people's instructions to do things I was also doodling with pens and paper, I had bought water color paint, I was looking up online, how do you use water color paint? And I wasn't doing it from a place of shame. I should know how to use water color paint. I can't believe that I'm thirty eight and I don't know how to use water color paint can ask anyone I was doing it from, like, unabashed curiosity. I need to know this answer at eleven o'clock at night, I'm not going to call someone I'm going to googling have I used one of color paint, right? And I was like, if you wet the paper first that I was a wool and I started making messes like I hadn't made, probably since I was six and a half on dh it felt good, and I realized that it didn't matter to me anymore. It was really great moment for me I might have been done in august when I was preparing for this class, this talk to give, I was feeling done talking about ugly for a while, but clearly what I was realizing was that all of that talk about ugly had paid me really comfortable with things that I had not considered even to be a part of my life for a very, very long time. So what we're going to do now is when we talk. Or think first and then talk about the stories we deliberately tell ourselves there's the voice that is our voice that's in our mind, it's the one that like when you're standing in the grocery store you're like should I get the whole wheat pasta or the semolina pasta that's the voice you have that conversation with and that voice is with us it's the voice that said to me when I was sixteen you can take wood shop instead of pottery that's the clear choice for you because you can't do pottery I had never done pottery didn't matter right that's that voice that was not something else that was not the voice of some creative demon in the back of my mind that was me making a decision and I don't think that we have been doing a lot of conversing as a creative community about that deliberate voice. We talk a lot about her inner critic and I think there's a lot of appropriate distance that we put between our own self and the inner critic because the inner critic tells a lot of lies and we need tio accept that and address that, but we don't do a lot of talking yet and I think I'm hoping that more we talk about it, the more talk there will be about the actual decisions we make for ourselves, and so what I'd like to do is think about that, think about and I don't believe that I have ah, no, I don't yet so think about this just think while I talk, listen to the sound of my voice we spent all morning thinking about and trying to listen to what are ugly voice says I think thiss point it shouldn't be too hard to even write it down. You can go back to the page, we wrote it down think about those stories you tell yourself my ugly voice used to say, don't bother, who do you think you are? Nobody cares! This is like like who are you to stand up and speak? We're not an authority, nobody ordained you with some kind of thing that would make other people listen to you don't even try my deliberate voice said you can't make anything good anyway. Don't even bother there's other things that you could spend your good time on. It was a positive voice. So you suck it that who cares there's so much else you khun d'oh! That voice kept me down, I think more than any other voice at all. But it was me that one was way easier to address. The ugly voice that was there all the time that it couldn't control to begin with but once I realized that I was telling myself something like I still don't really believe I'm particularly gifted it making what I say in my mind I kind of suck at it but I don't not try anymore once I realized that that's what I was doing I was able to say like wait a minute now I'm the girl who tries to make what I see in my mind usually doesn't work and I'm so comfortable with ugliness anyway I don't even care but I do it now and it turns out that sometimes I can make things that are really lovely I surprised myself every time I do it because I'm now it's not necessarily because I'm doing it out of confidence but like I used to not even start and that was because of me that was that was it one hundred percent I had made a decision and once I sort of un made that decision I was able to do things differently we're going to think a lot moving forward about deliberateness about how we respond to that ugly voice with deliberateness about what we tell ourselves that holds us back deliberately whether we realize we're doing it or not and I didn't realize I was doing it I was just like I identified with that seven year old and I still feel it sometimes too of course I do and I do it you know now that I'm like I make stuff all the time now with my kid right? And I'm like the mighty ugly person I'm like let's make something messy and let's do whatever he's like I don't want to do unless I know how to do it I'm like and then I and then I'll get ever grander and my ideas about things and still be unable to really translate that into and then I and I'm seven again and there are all sorts of other things that I've told myself over time it's not only things that you know come from childhood we do a lot of talking about childhood because we've got pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks and you talk a lot about this stuff but and a lot of stuff does come back to experiences we had sometimes and you may or may not have been experiencing this today the ugly voice in our minds actually sounds like someone who told us terrible things when we were a kid sometimes it's a teacher or a camp counselor who tries to do you a favor by eugene you in another direction oh maybe popsicle sticks or not really your thing let's try some clay right? Like really all you wanted to do was practice with the popsicle sticks right and it's that person's voice in your mind that's like a popsicle stick person but at some point or another, you get to decide, I decided when I was seven any kind of making it was really not for me on guy really, really glad I stopped doing that because now we just have more fun. Fun is also another thing I think we should talk about it's good to have it I'm just gonna say that right here we could talk about that more later, we're going to think about think about your deliberate voice, we spent the morning doing exercises and doing things while also trying to pay attention to that voice in the back of our minds. This afternoon we're going to pay a little bit of attention to what we say, how are we reacting? I am someone with a terrible attitude when I sit in a room with someone else in front of it. I know this about myself is why like it's it's cool if you're like whatever I get it because my that voice in my mind it can be really loud, really dismissive a lot of the time I can't believe I have to do this on and I have to really work it like shutting myself up and actually doing it this voices here all the time, it is us it's like it's just it's what we say to ourselves, what we say to ourselves

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Year of Making - E Book
Workshop Supply List
Embrace the Ugly Syllabus
Mighty Ugly Course Workbook

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

I listened to the entire course. I think that Kim is very inspiring and that she uses stories effectively. I do think that she needs to have the audience wear name tags and use their names when she is talking to them. It helps me the viewer feel a connection with the studio audience. I made my ugly creature. I am a graphic/interior designer. I know that ugly items are needed at times to make things beautiful, so my creature actually looks cute to me. I wished that less time was used on the ugly creature discussions and more time getting to the core of what is holding us back. Designers are visual producers so our work is always under scrutiny, and it is good to see what other designers are fearing, but solutions is what I wanted to get to rather than trying to identify what is holding me back. I hope that future videos by Kim will address the solutions and use less of the ugly theme so as to work on gaining insight as to how to overcome negativity about growing our businesses.


Amazing course, so good that I had to purchase it for further referral. With thanks to Kim Werker and also to the facilitator.

Student Work