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Does Your Life Resemble a Telenovela?

Librada Estrada

D5B5328E81Okay, I admit it, I enjoy the occasional telenovela. I love a good storyline as much as the next person. In every telenovela, or soap opera, there is always a misunderstanding of sorts-people hide the truth from a character, jealousy is involved, and the biggie—a main character does not think that he or she is enough for another individual. A good portion of the main character’s time is spent being treated harshly or made to feel unworthy so they pretend to be something they are not or try to prove their worth. Someone is directing each character’s behaviors and writing what they should say and think. Have you ever felt like someone is directing your actions? Think about the question for a minute. Before you answer, have you ever wanted something so bad you could taste it and yet you hold yourself back?

El Maldito Cuento

You tell yourself you will fail or another version of this story and don’t go after it. This is el maldito cuento (the damn story) running through our heads, helping us make decisions. It is the script, an internal story, that is typically based on fear and what if scenarios. We allow it to influence our decisions and (lack of) actions. It is similar to a telenovela in that it is fiction.

The cuento has different but similar forms. Do these sound familiar?

  • I am afraid of failing/succeeding.
  • I cannot be successful focusing on my passion.
  • I am not enough.
  • Someone else is more capable.
  • I don’t have enough experience.
  • I need less/more of Y.

The story is not necessarily bad. It sometimes protects us, keeps us playing safe. We don’t embarrass ourselves and don’t fail. We can continue to avoid things that we don’t want to acknowledge. We don’t draw attention to ourselves. In a nutshell, we don’t risk anything.

In my case, it has held me back from saying yes to some leadership opportunities, presentations, and activities to advance my career further. El maldito cuento has also held me back from saying no to work, relationships, or opportunities that looked really great at the time. It sometimes causes me to doubt myself as a parent, wife, or coach. Does this sound familiar to you?

Fear & Scarcity Vs. Knowledge & Wisdom

Different versions of the cuento run through my head and I now know when the script is being written from fear rather than knowledge and wisdom. When written by our inner critic(s), or the Tu Nu Puedes Committee, we hear all of the reasons for not doing something and what we are lacking. It comes at us from a fear-based, judgmental perspective. On the other hand, when the script is from wisdom and leadership, it sounds kinder. It might say-it’s not that you don’t know or cannot but rather that you don’t have enough experience, it points out the things that you have going in your favor, or what you will gain from taking action. One focuses on looking at the glass as half empty while the other concentrates on being half full. What is the version that you are buying into?

Individual and Group Impact

So much of how we show up or decide to do involves some form of the cuento. The story influences how we show up-physically, emotionally, mentally; our confidence, whether we say yes or no, how quickly we respond, our confidence, how we let others perceive us, etc. It can affect all of our choices if we let it. For some of us, it becomes the default way of thinking.

You might think that the tale only affects you since it is running in your head. Yet, as managers, executives, and leaders, how we show up has a ripple effect. Our behavior serves as role modeling to our staff, peers, and others. Through our actions and decisions we give others permission to do or not do something. Do you say what needs to be said or play it safe and keep quiet because you think that it’s not original or relevant; yet, you want your staff to feel comfortable speaking up? How open are you to stretching yourself and encouraging others to do the same? If you aren’t feeling confident or don’t show up, your teams performance or the client you serve may be adversely affected.

Rewriting the Script

Funny enough, in telenovelas, when the main characters present themselves “authentically” it results in misunderstandings being cleared up and all things ending well. The same can be said for any of us. When we decide to focus on what we know is true, instead of what if, we show up more confidently.

To change the storyline influencing your actions, si tú quieres, consider the following:

  • Take a deep breath and exhale. It briefly clears your mind and it gets you out of your head and focusing on the rest of your body.
  • Pay attention to the thoughts running in your head. What are they? Are they positive or negative? Write them out.
  • Read them and identify the wisdom in what is coming up for you. There is always some truth so determine what that is…yes, you might not know how to do X and what that means is that you have to gain some experience.
  • Add NOW to the end of the main line. I am not enough NOW, I am afraid to try NOW. Doing so brings to light that you are feeling this way in the present and implies it’s momentary.
  • Reframe the thought—the storyline that runs in our head is typically negative. Recognize this and change it, what is the opposite of the current script?
  • Identify a phrase or mantra that helps you focus on what you are capable of doing. When I recognize that el maldito cuento is creeping in, I say a positive statement to myself. One of my favorite is “I create, I promote, and allow what happens to me.”
  • Create a goal and plan. If you know what you are trying to achieve, it is much easier to stay motivated because you know where you are going.

Your choice: What is the reality you want to live?

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