Edit Your Personal Narrative

Did you ever have one of your English papers passed back filled with red marks; edits and deletions shaping your original script into something more cohesive and descriptive? If you’re at all like me, you first reacted with a bit of defensiveness tinged with embarrassment – “I thought the paper was good.” But then, upon reading the revised essay, you begrudging admit that the revised version is better. Maybe even much better.

The external hand wielding the marking pen gives you the gift of perspective, allowing you to see the patterns in your writing and the fall-back phrases that are too often used.  The editing process removes what doesn’t better the whole and selects the best choice of similar words to express an idea.


Have you ever paid attention to your internal narrative, the story you tell to and about yourself? Have you ever noticed a pattern in the words you select and the phrases you repeat?

Often we unwittingly craft a negative internal narrative, repeating past injuries and berating ourselves. Spinning yarns into straightjackets that keep us bound and gagged, prisoners of ours pasts and our beliefs. We excuse others while we abuse ourselves, framing our choices as worse than they are.


The words we choose to say to others have influence.

The words we choose to say to ourselves have power.


When we repeatedly hear the same words about ourselves, we begin to believe them. Even if they aren’t true.

Pay attention to the words you use to describe yourself. Are you selecting the best term? For example, feel the difference between “depressed” and “sad.” Sure, they are technically synonyms but the connotation is vastly different. Depressed is heavy, permanent. A condition. Whereas sad says, “I feel badly right now.” It’s a mood. Ephemeral. Even if you are depressed, try renaming it as sadness in your script. Keep repeating it and you’ll start to believe it.


Look to see what other words or phrases you can replace –

I shouldn’t feel that way” becomes “I feel this way right now and that’s okay.”

“I’m lonely” turns into “I’m feeling separated from others right now.”

“I’m stupid” is replaced with “I made the best decision I could in the moment and I’m learning.”

“I’m rehashing” is exchanged for “I’m processing.”

“I’m broke” is retired and “That doesn’t fit in to my personal wealth goal” is brought in to fill its place.

“I’ll never find love again” is crossed out and “I am open to receiving love again” is written in above.

“My life sucks” is modified with the phrase “right now.”


Edit your personal narrative to create a story of compassion. A script of forgiveness and learning and hope.

The words you choose have power.

Use that power to shape the life you want.

You’re worth it.





Thank you for sharing!

19 thoughts on “Edit Your Personal Narrative

  1. I randomly decided to get on here after almost eight months and this is the first thing I read. I needed this.

  2. elizabeth2560 – ABOUT ALMOST SPRING Two and a half years ago my 37 year marriage ended suddenly through no choice of my own. I survived the heartache. I have taken control of my present. I am planning my own destiny, which is moving onwards to a life of purpose and meaning. This is my journey.
    elizabeth2560 says:

    “The words we choose to say to others have influence. The words we choose to say to ourselves have power.”
    This is SO true and you have given wise advice. Thanks

  3. KMWalls82 – 35 year old woman who is currently under tremendous amounts of stress and need somewhere to let it all out. I'm working full time, juggling a social life and a boyfriend, and taking care of my 65 year old dad.
    kwally2014 says:

    Thanks for this, I feel inspired to try to have more positive thinking!

  4. betrayedin2012 – I am in my early thirties, married with 2 children. And Christmas night of 2012, after 10 years of marriage, I discovered my husband was having an affair, and I just want to talk about it.
    betrayedin2012 says:

    On dday and the 4 days that followed, I did a lot of crying and begging. Literal begging, on the floor screaming and crying please dont leave me.. dont leave us.. I cant do this without you.. You made me promises!… (eyes watered up just remembering that)…. I remember him saying “betrayed, you’re stronger than this! You are better than this!” Annoyance in his voice and a twinge of anger… So, not that I think his opinion of me is written in stone to live my life by, BUT, I do gravitate to that now a whole lot. Because I am, better than this and stronger than this. Funny, how our own mind can be our worse enemy…

    Hey, so a quick update.. I went and got alternatively certified to teach in my state! I subbed since December and realize how much I loved it. Kinders my fave and I would love to do that.. I passed my tests and finished everything in about three months! Been super busy bettering me an worrying about and he is now more of an accesory.. I dont mean that wrong, I just dont know how to describe him in my life right now. (hmm I may have to write a post on this) But, accessory, he’s an added extension I like, but no longer feel like I would die without him, because Im stronger than that, and Im becoming happier with myself every day.

    1. Thank you for sharing your update. So happy to hear you’re doing well and making strides towards the life you want! I love the idea of an accessory. Maybe even one that will be obsolete some day:)

  5. This is my first time visiting your blog, and I’m now a follower, I love your story and I love what you wrote. I keep a journal, and I noticed, reading back through it, how I really bog myself down with negativity. I am trying super hard to make an effort to stop, but really, it’s a battle. It is amazing how we are often kinder to strangers than we are to ourselves.

    1. Welcome!

      We so are! I often coach people to write about themselves in the 3rd person to help eliminate the negativity. It works:) If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself.

  6. livebysurprise – Liv is the pseudonym reformed divorcee and single mom - now married, coparenting and working mother of three. She's been featured on ScaryMommy, HuffPost Divorce, The Mid and DivorcedMoms.com. More at http://www.livebysurprise.com.
    Liv says:

    I am such a believer in the power of “you”. If you want to change your life – you’re the one who has to do it! You can’t control anyone else – but you can control what you think and who you are. And if you act and live with integrity, that’s how the world will treat you.

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