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The stories we tell ourselves, and what you can do about them

the stories we tell ourselves

The stories we tell ourselves,

and what you can do about them

There are a few themes that are set on repeat in the Wayfairer HQ and one of them is about the stories we tell ourselves. Have you ever listened to the stories, the voices in your head tell you? Whether they’re self-doubts, you can’ts to hell yes’s and what ifs.

That voice or those voices have quite a strong influence over most of us. These stories can quite quickly and easily be mistaken for truths. They often have the power and capacity to incapacitate us, to swell that lump of fear and ring in the naysayers at the back of our minds.

Stories we tell are often not true

But it’s not all doom and gloom, because it at these junctions that growth and awareness can develop, unfold and can change the trajectory of the stories being developed or told in our heads.

No one other than you can hear this story. Which means no one other than you can change the tune, the tone, the content and make that story ring truer than its original shitty first draft. The shitty first draft that many accept as being the final polished and buffed piece that the world sees.

Dr Brené Brown talks of her internal dialogue as one that can either cripple her or fire her up to get on with her intention to keep showing up for the world. To continue writing, researching, presenting her ideas. Rewriting that story where she is the imposter and her story is full of doubt, fear, and vulnerability.

Sound familiar?

Recently I was talking with a friend about my ability to upsell, wax lyrical and prioritise my work for others and the work they do. However, when it comes to my own work, skill set, experience and abilities I am completely paralysed. By not only a very strong sense of fear and vulnerability (oh my goodness I don’t know everything, what if someone finds out!) But also imposter syndrome. Despite my training and educational background, over 15 years of experience and a university degree. I still seem to believe the story in my head. It reads like this – I’m not enough to do this work. I’ve not got enough experience. I have to get more qualifications. I need to work for other people, use their skills, experience, and business as a buffer to hide behind. To shield myself from being exposed as an imposter. These are huge excuses for not letting my own innate skills loose, and actually being brave enough to be successful. Which is contrary to the fear I tell myself of being afraid of failing. Which, I am not. Funnily enough.

“If we deny our stories, they own us,” says Brené Brown. “When we own our stories, we get to write the ending. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away – they own us, then they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending – to rise strong, reckon with our story and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.”

The shitty first draft (sfd)

When I first read about this in Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong, it took a bit of digesting. Probably because my fears realised they were about to be caught out. The biggest question that came up was, Why would writing our stories be of any use? Eventually, it dawned on me that if our stories are out of our heads and in the real world positioned next to other items for scale and perspective we’d see what shitty stories they really are. How irrelevant they actually are in relation to not only the truth but also reality.

Fellow fear facer and author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote an exceptional letter to fear in her book Big Magic.

 

The stories fear tells us

 

The sfd

Not everyone is a storyteller, a writer or inclined to put their innermost thoughts on paper (or on a computer). I know there are days where I can’t even sit still long enough to write a sentence, so my suggestions are these. Take out the medium that you feel most at ease with communicating these stories.

  • writing, stories, poems, lyrics, emails, notes, permission slips
  • painting, drawing, sculpting, carving
  • photographs or videos
  • speak the stories through songs, a vlog, podcast, voice recording on your phone, conversation with another person

The SFD doesn’t need to be public, it just needs to be out of your head and exposed for what it really is. Bullshit.

I always say to my students. Ask the question. Get the clarification. Make the statement. You are not the only one in the room feeling that way. By raising your hand and putting yourself in a space of vulnerability I can guarantee that at least one other will feel the same. They will be moved to either support you and contribute to the story or write/speak their own version.

Like all good stories, they need space and time to be told. So carve out a niche of time and get those words or images out of your head. Start that shitty first draft and see it for what it is. Fear. Vulnerability. Self-doubt. Acknowledge it, take responsibility for it. But don’t believe it. Please, don’t believe it.

Reigning in the stories

Brené, who has interviewed artists, CEOs, parents, teachers and military leaders as part of her mission to uncover what it takes to lean into vulnerability in the name of being courageous, suggests a few key points in order to ‘rise strong’ in the face of a roadblock, stumble (or sinkhole).

1.    Acknowledge when you’re getting caught in emotion

The physiological signs of this can be different for everyone but may involve sweaty palms, tingly insides, dizziness, racing heart, rushing thoughts.

2.    Own your story 

Acknowledge your fears and worries to yourself and identify what they are, exactly. You will probably recognise that they’re somewhat exaggerated versions of the actual truth.

3.    Go searching for the truth

Take it gently, this might involve, confessing to the person your SFD is about or involving and saying something along the lines of ‘In my head, the story I’m telling myself is…’

4.    Create a new story

In most situations, it’s possible to identify what the real issue is. Overwhelm, stress, tiredness, PMS, and more are all contributors to the story. The rest? Pure confabulation.

5.    Challenge your themes

If you’re serious about getting up and out of the SFD vicious circle, review your SFDs and pull out the recurring themes that you’re concocting on a regular basis about situations in your life, about people, about circumstances. Acknowledge the underlying false beliefs that may be plaguing you.

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If you need more help or coaching please get in touch here or info(@)wayfairer.net

Framing stories.

 

 

 

Hashtags, what are they and how important are they, really?

Hashtags

Hashtags, what are they and how important are they, really? Every minute thousands of images, videos, sound clips and links are posted on social media platforms. In the increasingly crowded social media space businesses need to stand out amongst the crowd. Unless you have a huge following the likelihood of your posts being missed is quite high. This is where hashtags come into the picture (pardon the pun). Hashtags came into their own when Twitter was launched into the social scene. Nowadays they’re used as common practice across all media platforms.

Defining the hashtag

A hashtag is a keyword or phrase preceded by the hash symbol (#). Written within a post or comment to highlight it and facilitate a search for it. Essentially, by including hashtags in your post; it will be indexed by the social network and search engines so that it can be discoverable to everyone. Even if they’re not your followers or fans. For example, if your company is based in Hobart and your desired audience is both local residents and visitors to the city you could use the hashtag #hobartandbeyond to tap into the tourism sector of your client base.

Instagram (and social media in general) has been changing the rules of the hashtag game. And with that, we need to change our methods of engagement from the types and frequency of our hashtag usage. Focusing on more what, how, and when we post our content, so it counts most.

Hashtags

Hashtag heaven

Social media statistics will help you track your hashtag engagement

To put it simply, Instagram has divided their hashtags into three different categories, genericcommunity, and branded hashtags

Generic: 

These hashtags are the least specific of the three, but they do help with random discovery by users. However, the drawback is if you use the same hashtags too often your account could be flagged as ‘spam’ which you don’t want. This type of hashtag is more like a generalisation. And when it comes to business, it doesn’t work. Most businesses, or almost every business, have a niche (a specific type of product or service). And using a broad hashtag is akin to stabbing wildly in the dark. So, if you are going to use a generic hashtag, make sure you mix them up. Generic hashtag examples are: #travel, #love, #paradise

Community:

Related to the gathering of people who have similar interests or have similar content. Some examples of these communities are #fromwhereistand and #ihavethisthingwithfloors. To find these look at your followers and the types of accounts and people they follow. The narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the following.

Branded:

Unique to your business, branded hashtag, they can be your business name or tagline, specific product name. They can be helpful in encouraging UGC and increasing exposure specific to your business, services and products.

Don’t make your hashtags too long and hard to read, and, check your spelling.

Last but not least, you can now follow specific hashtags on Instagram, and so can your followers. This game changer will either boost or kill your visibility. Which is one of the reasons why using the relevant hashtag is so important. Once a hashtag is followed you’ll be given suggestions from Instagram of other hashtags, accounts, images, content that may be of interest. A form of organic discovery, using Instagram centric algorithms and hashtags. By following specific hashtags you’ll be able to see what other people are doing. Who is using the same hashtag and if this is on point for your business, brand and target audience.

Plus, you’ll gather a cache of hashtags relevant to your industry as deemed by Instagram. If that’s not the golden ticket, we don’t know what is!

A closer look at social platforms & what works best

Instagram

  • Between 3-5 hashtags in your description, and up to 10 in your comments.
  • To keep everything organised and visually appealing. It’s best to put your hashtags at the end of your caption preferably separated by either dots or asterisks. If you’re a bit OCD, you can also add your hashtags in a comment to your post (10 maximum).
  • Instagram’s algorithm has always favoured specific and relevant hashtags. Using hashtags that make sense is super important. That’s because users now have the power to edit your hashtagged content as something they don’t want to see.
  • Instagram insights will give you an outline of which hashtag groups are working best for you. From there you can narrow down your hashtag use to the ones that are most effective for you, and your business.

Facebook

  • Surprisingly the use of a hashtag is not very important on Facebook, it’s the title, heading or description that punches its weight.
  • Use hashtag groups, but keep them to an absolute minimum, a branded hashtag is the best course of action.
  • Content posted on Facebook can now be cross-posted onto Instagram if images are part of the post.

Pinterest

  • Don’t use more than 20 hashtags per pin (that’s a lot!) and they only work in the pin description.

Twitter

  • More than two hashtags have been shown to reduce visibility and reduce the tweets to being allocated as ‘spam’.
  • Unlike Instagram, hashtags can be used anywhere. In the tweet, whether as part of the text or afterwards, it makes no difference. #But #don’t #tag #every #word – #its #annoying #to #read.

Google+ and LinkedIn

  • The humble Hashtag can be used, but they don’t impact the visibility of the post. Again, focus on using branded hashtags only.
  • On LinkedIn, the most important feature is the fact that any activity on posts (e.g. likes, shares or comments) are broadcast on the wall of everyone who is following your company or you as an individual. An easy way to get exposure is to post regular content and encourage engagement.
Hashtags are go!

Hashtags help make you and your business more discoverable

 

 

 

 

 

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*This post was originally written by Wayfairer for Digital Dandy If you’d like help or some further information about coaching services in relation to digital media, social strategy and business presence online get in touch here  – info (at) wayfairer.net