In my previous article we looked at what stories are, how they develop in childhood and how they hold us back. Fortunately, we are in control of our stories – the good, the bad and the ugly. And that means we have the power to change them at any time. Below I’ll share my top strategies for owning and rewriting old, negative, looping stories. So that you can start living more authentically. Free from the restraints of your shadow and other “I can’ts”.

But first, I want to share one of the stories I rewrote about myself this past year. And boy, does it feel good!

How I Became Sporty in my late 30s

For the first 37 years of my life I believed that I simply wasn’t sporty. Some people have loved playing soccer since childhood, kill it at team sports and make running 10km look like a stroll through Whole Foods. That’s never been me. I’ve always been more of a yoga, ballet, zumba kind of girl. Intensity, cardio, heavy lifting? No thanks. These more intensive athletics always felt so difficult and unnatural for me and I just couldn’t keep up. Because I’m not sporty. I was raised believing that I was good at math, and could get straight As if I tried, but my family agreed that I just wasn’t born sporty. Today, I call B.S.

Turns out, this is just another one from my long list of stories. One that I’ve been telling myself for a very long time. And one that my loved ones, friends and teaches unconsciously reinforced. Thanks guys. In reality, I was born just as capable of physical activity as anyone else. I may not be Lance Armstrong or Michael Phelps material, but I was born just as sporty as the next non-Olympian. The only thing holding me back was my story and the strong beliefs I created around it for decades.

Once I had this revelation, it was time to look inward. Where did I get this idea that I wasn’t sporty? Was this true? What are the facts? I journaled and reflected and decided to overwrite my old thinking patterns. To replace them with a new story that I would start building now. Next, I got off my butt and went for a run – something I had done here and there over the years and hated every time, finding it too hard (side cramps, anyone?). I started with a short jog, alternating with walking, and each day I went it got easier. And with that, I shed the last remnants of my old story and replaced it with my new one. Every day I go for a run, my new belief about myself grows stronger.

My old story: I’m not sporty, I don’t like sports and I’m not good at sports. I can’t do it. Fear.

My new story: I am sporty. I am just as capable as others. I am good at sports. Just start. I am strong.

Now, on to how to change your story.

Here are the strategies that have had the biggest impact on overwriting my entrenched, negative thinking and creating my new narrative. I suggest using these tools in the same order they are written. Each section will prepare you for the next step of your journey.

Uncover Your Negative Stories

Your mission is to get rid of all those negative scripts running on repeat in your head and to replace them with positive stories that propel you forward. This starts with identifying which negative stories are holding you back. Where do you have shadow and which shadow words trigger you most? Prepare a safe and calming space for yourself to do some self-reflection. Don’t rush this process. Take the time to really think, go deep and question which stories dominate your life. You will probably uncover things that you never realised were there. Journal or write these down as you go. Make a list of your current stories.

Own and Reframe your Stories

In the words of Manifestation expert Lacy Philips, what you don’t own, owns you. Before we can make changes, we first have to acknowledge and accept our stories. Owning our shadow is essential to reprogramming those negative, old beliefs. Your past is a part of you and deserves to be accepted in order to heal. Learning to love every imperfect piece of yourself is integral to creating a shift into high self-worth on a subconscious level, and creating new stories that stick.

Try the Reframing technique. Is there a way you can look at this shadow aspect of yourself in a new and more positive light? For example, last year I learned that I am an HSP – a Highly Sensitive Person. This newfound knowledge helped me understand myself so much better and explained why I often do things the way I do. In fact, it changed how I saw and interpreted so much of the world around me. Proving that once again, so much of what we believe are just assumptions, not facts.

I realised that HSPs are more cautious physically and mentally, and tend to prefer solo sports (without balls flying at their heads) and less physically stimulating activities, like running, yoga, dance, karate and swimming. My dislike of playing soccer as a child had nothing to do with being innately unsporty. In fact, I am actually disposed to prefer other kinds of physical activity. But I have always been just as capable at sports as everyone else.

Where are you misjudging your abilities?

Get Journaling

This one is a biggy. You might not naturally gravitate to journaling, but putting your thoughts on paper can work wonders for getting to the root of old wounds, and then letting them go. One story at a time, start writing down anything you can think of that is associated with your old, negative narrative. How does it makes you feel in your body? What emotions do you associate with it? Where was this behaviour modelled for you in childhood (or later)? Did you parents, friends or society as a whole repeat this messaging over and over again? Do you hold shame around this shadow aspect? Have patience and keep at it, this is a process.

Here is an example. You don’t start your dream business, telling yourself it’s because you’re lazy. You usually end up watching Netflix instead of working on your business plan. But after digging deep, you discover that it is really fear that is holding you back. Growing up you were modelled that entrepreneurship is too risky, whereas working for someone else is the safe and smart move. You may have witnesses a parent not succeeding in business, having lost lots of money as a result. The more you understand the root of your stories, the less power they will have over you.

Change Your State

So, you have decided to change your story for a better one. Now what?

According to Tony Robbins, the easiest and fastest way to rewrite your story is to change your energy. What he calls getting into a peak state. He recommends doing this by changing 3 things. First, you need to change your physiology (your body) through self care, fitness, posture and increased movement. These physical states support a positive, empowering and strong emotional state. So get up and do a few jumping jacks right now…I’m serious.

Next, change your focus. Because “where focus goes, energy flows.” Make it a habit to focus on your new story, the positive aspects of your experiences, the things you want and and the goals you set, rather than what is holding you back. What you focus on determines your reality, how you experience the world around you and which emotions you feel.

Finally, change your language. Words hold so much power. Be selective with how you use them. How you talk to yourself internally and how you speak with others out loud determine the emotions you feel and how you see the world. Tony advocates using words accurately rather than exaggerating for effect. If you are a bit frustrated but say that you are pissed off, you will actually start to feel the more extreme emotion and vice versa. The more you start to catch your negative language towards yourself, the more you will be able to alter your your internal dialogue to maintain your new story.


Sometimes simply a change of location or environment can help you jumpstart your new story, whether that’s taking a vacation or simply going for a walk in nature. When I started jogging last Summer, I ran by the ocean and ended each session with a barefoot walk along the beach in the sun. It was magical and quickly became something I looked forward to in the mornings. Getting out of your old routine gets you out of your old story and makes it easier to build new, positive habits.

Find Your Why and How

For me to develop the new habits associated with new stories, I’ve found it super helpful to have motivation that genuinely resonates with me, as well as a clear action plan that I can realistically execute. Listening to fitness episodes of the Huberman Lab podcast really helped me understand my WHY when I decided I was sporty. I want to be healthy and active into my 90s. Working backwards from that number, I got a better understanding of where my fitness needed to be today if I want to reach this long-term goal. I also learned very specifically what I need to do on a weekly basis to get there. I went from avoiding gyms to enjoying my time there a few days a week. Now I am excited to witness my progress and be actively living out my new story – as a treadmill warrior.

Get 1% Better

Your new story might feel like a momentous switch, especially when it involves striving for what seem like huge goals. Break those down and know that if you can get just 1% better, you are already doing fantastic. All of those 1% soon compound to massive improvement. Don’t believe me? Read James Clear’s powerful book Atomic Habits to learn how the world’s best sports teams have been using this approach to quickly go from bottom of the ranks to win industry championships.

Intentions, Not Affirmations

Repeating affirmations to yourself (new stories) without doing any of the work above probably won’t get you the results you want. Old spiritual bypass techniques of repeating affirmations are not backed with the energy or powerful intentions required to make a mental shift. So don’t confuse a new story with an affirmation. This doesn’t work. You need to put in the effort.

In Summary

i. Before we change our negative stories, we first have to identify, accept and own our old shadow aspects and beliefs.

ii. Use journaling or whatever process works for you to better understand your old stories, your triggers, and be able to reframe them in a more positive light.

iii. You will know that you have integrated your shadow when the words you associate with it no longer have energetic power for you. Your old story around it will loosen its hold over you.

iv. Change your state and your environment through movement, self-care, focus, language and location.

v. Figure out why you want to change your story and what aligned actions you can start taking today to live it. You don’t need to make a lifestyle 180 to get started. Overambitious new habits usually don’t stick. Incremental 1% improvements will manifest into massive change.

Disclaimer – The information on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It should not be taken as professional medical or health advice. Please consult your own doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, nutritionist or healer, and do your own research before making any health-related decisions. We try to provide accurate information on health, mental health and wellness, but it may not apply directly to your individual situation. 

What would you do if you found out that all of your limiting beliefs about yourself weren’t true? And that they couldn’t hold you back anymore?

Well, this recently happened to me. And it’s been a pretty wild ride. Like life-changing. Too big for me to keep to myself. So let me walk you through what the heck I’m talking about, what I experienced, and how you too can create a momentous shift in your life.

What’s a Story?

A story is a set of limiting beliefs about our abilities, worth, and experiences that we accept as true and feel with absolute certainty. Unfortunately, many of us tend to loop on stories that do not serve us. There’s a lot of negative self-talk, which we often don’t even realise we’re doing. Long-term, this negative thinking can have a profound impact on our lives by shaping our self-perception and limiting our potential.

For example, we may tell ourselves stories rooted in being unworthy, not attractive enough, weak, stupid, lazy, too shy, unlovable, incapable, unambitious, bad with money, unable to start a successful business, a failure, not deserving of happiness.

Most of us have been repeating these same stories to ourselves for years, if not decades, usually starting in childhood. They are usually based on past experiences, cultural messages, and critical comments from others, and can be limiting and detrimental to our mental and emotional well-being. They can lead to mental health problems like anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, and can prevent us from reaching our full potential.

Fascinatingly, our stories actually create neural pathways in the brain that get reinforced and more entrenched in our belief system as they loop in our thoughts. It’s a vicious cycle. The more we repeat these stories to ourselves, the stronger those neural pathways get, and the more we believe them – and the cycle repeats. Eventually, they become self-fulfilling.

Stories, Shame & Shadow

Here is an example to illustrate how stories unfold.

Family, friends, and teachers commonly label a cautious child who is a bit slow to warm up to people as shy. Even though the child is still very social and doesn’t necessarily feel shy. After a few years of being called shy and being told not to “be so shy,” the child starts to identify with the trait and believe it. The child learns that shyness is viewed negatively and attaches shame to this aspect of their personality. They start to worry about being judged socially and become even more cautious around others, which only reinforces the belief that they are shy. Over time, this belief becomes their story.

As a teen, the child would blame their shyness for not being popular enough, asking questions in class, or auditioning for the school musical. The crazy thing is, they were never shy to begin with. It just became their story. And this story was shaping the trajectory of their life.

People often refer to our negative stories as our shadow. Typically picked up between the ages of 0-14, shadow aspects are core beliefs rooted deep down in shame. Anytime you were consciously or unconsciously shamed for something as a child, or witnessed someone else being shamed, your ego developed your shadow, your story of why something is bad or why you can’t do it. Shame, shadow and stories cause us to abandon our true authentic selves, replacing them with beliefs around low self-worth.

Change Your Story, Change Your Life

As Tony Robbins famously says: “Beliefs create and beliefs destroy”. They are that powerful. But they can also be fake news. Negative stories aren’t based on facts. They are just that – stories. And you can re-write them anytime to rediscover your authentic self and live up to your true potential.

Just as there are negative stories, there are positive stories too. Stories like: I am beautiful, strong, successful, confident, fun, kind, capable, worthy, loveable and enough. Now that’s more like it! Think of how the world would open up to you if these core beliefs were running the show. And they can.

Positive stories have the power to transform our lives. Rather than hold us back, they shape how we see ourselves, influence our thoughts and emotions, build our confidence and guide our behaviors. When we tell ourselves stories that highlight our strengths, achievements, and positive qualities, we start to see ourselves in a more favorable light. And most importantly, we start to believe them.

The Neuroscience Behind A Positive Story

The power of positive stories to improve our lives goes a lot deeper than standard self-help rhetoric (repeating affirmations, The Secret, etc). Their success lies in the process of neuroplasticity. Our experiences and thoughts create patterns of neural activity that can become hardwired over time. This is one of the major reasons why old, pessimistic stories and shadow aspects can have such a strong hold over us and why we believe them so strongly. But these deep pathways can be rewritten.

When we change a story, we create new neural pathways in our brain. So by telling ourselves positive stories, we are essentially rewiring our brain to see ourselves in a more positive light. By repeatedly focusing on our skills, talents, and positive qualities, we strengthen the neural pathways that support these positive beliefs until the old pathways gradually fade away and lose their power. This can help to counteract negative self-talk and limiting beliefs, making it easier for us to see ourselves as capable, confident, and deserving of success. In other words, in high self worth.

The child (now adult) above, who grew up to believe they were innately shy, may choose to believe a new story. That they are cautious in new situations but also social and outgoing when they feel comfortable. They will start to view their interactions with others in a new light, building and strengthening new neural pathways, and developing a positive feedback loop from the positive experiences that reaffirm their new set of beliefs around their social skills. The external world around them didn’t change, just how they see it.

In Summary

i. Negative stories and shadow lower our self-esteem and keep us in fear and lack.

ii. Positive stories increase our confidence and sense of self-worth. They inspire us to take messy action, pursue our goals, and develop a growth mindset.

iii. You are in control of your limiting stories and shadow aspects. They are not facts nor grounded in truth. They are just long-held beliefs.

iv. Your stories don’t own you. It is scientifically possible to rewire your brain with new, positive beliefs and stories. It’s never too late, you’re never too old or too damaged to change your story.

I find it incredibly exciting to know that so many of the beliefs that hold us back in life are within our own control. And by making a conscious shift, we can change our stories at any time. In my next post, Rewriting Old Stories That Hold You Back, I will dive into the details of how we can do this.

Disclaimer – The information on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It should not be taken as professional medical or health advice. Please consult your own doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, nutritionist or healer, and do your own research before making any health-related decisions. We try to provide accurate information on health, mental health and wellness, but it may not apply directly to your individual situation. 

The Energetics of Fear

As any self-proclaimed catastrophizer knows (ahem, yours truly), old fears can appear out of nowhere, hijacking our rational minds. They send us into fight, flight or freeze mode, leaving us feeling helpless and full of anxiety. Our fears come in all shapes and sizes – big and small, frequent and extremely unlikely, obvious or unconscious. They control us and influence our decisions, often much more than we are aware of. Like an invisible hand guiding us under the illusion of keeping us safe, they reinforce old stories about our subconscious selves.

We have fears based around our worth: I am fragile, shy, alone, not athletic, not smart, not enough. And others based on distorted thinking and cognitive bias. Everyone gets sick, starting a business is too risky, all tourists get robbed. This fear-based programming holds us back from achieving our fullest potential, pursuing our passions and dreams, and taking action rooted in self-worth.

Just to be clear, I am not referring to justified fears around imminent danger, such as abuse, war, trauma and danger. In those cases, please take immediate action to stay safe.

Most of the time, when we feel fear coming up, we are not in actual danger. We are actually feeling our old wounds looping. This presents us with an opportunity to dig deeper into those feelings and work through them, removing their power over us. Think of it as a nudge from the universe to do some self-work and step through these fears. Next time you’re feeling fear unjustifiably, harness this energy and direct it towards your growth, using the exercise below.

Taking Action: Journaling Through Fear

These are my very favourite prompts for stepping through my (many) fears. I use them anytime something comes up. Recent fears I’ve taken through this process are my fear of fire and my fear of loved ones dying. Both very real fears in my mind because I’ve experienced some version of these in the past, making them seem all too real and possible.

Each time you do this work, you are strengthening new neural pathways that reinforce courage and calm, and reduce the power of your fears, until they eventually fade away. You will most likely need to journal and work through any related trauma several times to completely dissolve your most deeply entrenched fears.

Journal Prompts

I recommend using the following journal prompts to release the grip of any deep rooted fears that come up throughout your day. Adapt them to your individual needs as you develop your own process for healing.

  • What is my fear? What am I fearful of that’s preventing me from doing what I want to do? Explain in detail.
  • What emotions come up around this fear? What sensations in your body?
  • What is the root of this fear? You may have to look at old trauma (or ancestral trauma) and your shadows. Here’s a great exercise to release repressed trauma.
  • Explore the cognitive bias behind your fear. Statistically, what are the actual chances of it happening? If you’ve read about several recent plane crashes, you might start stressing the next time you have to fly. However, the actual chance of dying in a plane crash is one in ten million. You’re more likely to die choking on the airplane peanuts. And you’re probably not worrying about that. Here’s a great article that explains some of the most common types of distorted thinking.
  • Write out every worst case scenario that could possibly happen if your fear came true.
  • Now it’s time to face this fear. Ask yourself: If this happens, what does this mean for my life? If it has happened before, could it look differently this time?
  • Let’s reframe your fears. What is the best case scenario, if your worst case scenario does in fact come true? Show your subconscious an alternative healing to that worst case scenario and disrupt the looping on your old fear programming. You want to create and reinforce new neural pathways with positive loops so that your fear doesn’t feel so scary anymore.
  • At the end, list out 3 action steps that you can take right now to help you walk through this fear. For example, if you have a fear of being seen, try posting a photo of yourself on social media. It’s ok if you still have fear as you take action. Take baby steps and keep chipping away at it. Embrace the discomfort, trust your intuition, and take aligned action.

Disclaimer – The information on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It should not be taken as professional medical or health advice. Please consult your own doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, nutritionist or healer, and do your own research before making any health-related decisions. We try to provide accurate information on health, mental health and wellness, but it may not apply directly to your individual situation. 

Welcome to My Spiritual Toolbox

They say that when a student is ready, a teacher appears. If that’s the case, then I have been spoiled. Over the past 12 months, I’ve been flooded with a wealth of teachers, guides and gurus, each leading me down a fascinating rabbit hole of endless books, YouTube videos, podcast episodes, and articles. Though I’m still only at the beginning of my health and wellness journey, the concepts and tools I’ve uncovered have been life-changing. Perhaps in reading this, you will discover some ideas that will be transformational in your personal journeys as well.

One very special teacher that has been a game-changer for me in the realm of mental health and its impact on the physical body is Dr. Gabor Maté. A fellow Vancouverite, Dr. Maté is a world-renowned doctor, author, trauma specialist, and recipient of the Order of Canada. A humble hero in the field of mental health and addiction. He stars in a beautiful documentary called The Wisdom of Trauma, which initiated my deep dive into his work. I wanted to get a better understanding of the inner child wounds that I had experienced and suppressed growing up, and that were now manifesting themselves physically in my body as anxiety and issues with digestion. I’ve starting learning about the powerful gut-brain connection, and definitely had my share of AHA-moments.

My mission, with the help of Gabor and a handful of other guides that followed, would be how to do the work to uncover, process and eventually let go of the buried emotions that I’ve been feeling since childhood. That until recently, I didn’t even know were there. An invisible anchor. Gabor speaks a lot about sitting with your emotions (a process he calls Compassionate Inquiry), but since this doesn’t come naturally to me, I didn’t understand how to do that. How does a chronic, bottler-upper of emotions get started?

In a recent Q&A, held online by the fantastic Science and Nonduality online community, Dr. Gabor Maté shared what I found to be the missing piece to the mental homework he prescribes. A detailed walk-through of how he personally guides patients through decades of repressed emotions and trauma. And advice that for many of us feels priceless. I find his process to be quick and adaptable to different people and emotions. It’s something you can easily turn to anytime you feel the tug of unresolved emotions from deep inside. The perfect tool for our spiritual toolbox.

A Healing Meditation inspired by Dr. Gabor Maté

The following guided meditation is adapted from the teachings of Dr. Gabor Maté and his conversation with a member of the audience during the online Q & A. You can modify it to match the healing you are looking for and the feelings that come up for you, such as fear, anger, sadness, pain, etc. I hope you get as much out of this tool as I do. You may also want to work through the prompts below in your journal. I find that this really helps me organize my thoughts and allows me to refer back to them later. So let’s get started.

Sit in a quiet and comfortable space, and take a few deep breaths to calm and quiet the mind.

Begin to sit with yourself and feel what is going on in your body. Find the physical sensation in your body that is expressing itself.

Don’t focus on the memories that may be behind it. Just for now, forget any deep emotional pain.

Are you aware of an uncomfortable feeling or sensation in your body? This could be fear, pain, sadness, anger, or anything else that comes up. In this example, let’s call it fear, but for you it could be anything.

Where is that feeling right now in your body? Is it in your chest, your shoulders, your gut, your temples? Focus on feeling that physical feeling for a few breaths.

What does this feeling feel like? How do you know that it is the feeling that it is? Perhaps it feels like a contraction in the chest, a tightness someplace, pressure or nerves in the stomach. In this example, let’s say it’s a contraction in the chest.

Can you put your attention on it? On that contraction or whatever physical discomfort you are feeling? Keep your attention on it for a minute.

How do you feel about that feeling, the contraction? How do you feel towards it? Why do you feel that way?

Imagine a 5-year-old little girl (or little boy) comes to you. It may help to visualize a child you know or yourself when you were little. This child is having that same physical feeling you are experiencing – that same contraction. What would you say to her? Would you sternly tell her to stop that feeling, the contraction, right away? Or would you hug her and be loving? What would be your attitude towards her? Most likely, you would allow the feeling, the contraction, to be there. You wouldn’t force it to go away.

Now for a moment, could you adopt the same compassionate attitude towards your own feeling, the contraction, in your body? Because it is the feeling of a little girl (or little boy), isn’t it? Can you put your annoyance at the feeling, this contraction, aside for a few minutes and just allow the feeling to be there? Is it possible? Just to put your attention on it without trying to get rid of it or judge it?

Keeping your attention on that feeling inside you, allowing it to be for now, I’m going to ask you a question and see what comes up for you. Just say to yourself whatever comes up for you. And if nothing comes up, that’s ok too. There is not right or wrong answer here.

What does that feeling, the contraction, want from you?

In order to be (or have that want fulfilled), what does that feeling need from you? Does it want to be seen? To be allowed to exist?

If you allow it to be, to be seen, I want you to ask it a question.

Talking to the feeling: You, this contraction, this feeling, what are you trying to do? For example, are you trying to protect me?

So here we are being annoyed with something that’s trying to protect us or help us in some way.

Ask it, what are you afraid of? What are you trying to protect me from? For example, feeling, suffering, getting hurt, being overcome with grief.

And the fear is that if you feel that, then what? For example, you will be vulnerable.

And if you’re vulnerable, if you feel that, then what will happen? Will you be too open? It could feel like you could be destroyed. Too overwhelmed. Like it would be too much for you.

This feeling, this contraction, this part of yourself, how old is she or he? For example, 5-years old.

So you’re talking to a 5-year old and you’re annoyed with her.

If you weren’t annoyed with her, what would you say to her? Anything else? You might say, I love you.

Repeat the following words to yourself, if they feel right to you, if you agree with them:

{ Words by Dr. Gabor Maté }

Thank you for trying to protect me.

When you came along, I really was helpless and it would have been too much for me to experience these feelings.

And so for all those years ever since, you’ve been trying to protect me.

Thank you for that.

But now I need to move on.

Now I need to grow, I need to become stronger, I need to be more authentic.

And I promise you something.

You don’t have to work so hard anymore.

Because I’m strong enough now. And I know how to ask for help.

When you first came along, I had nobody to help me. I was completely alone. And I didn’t have the strength. So that’s why you came along.

But now I know how to ask for help. And I’m much stronger than I used to be.

So the next time you come along, I’m going to thank you again, and I’m going to ask you to step aside. And I promise you, I’ll take care of me. So you don’t have to. So thank you for working so hard all those years. You must be so tired.

You are done now. How do you feel? Sit and feel the sensations inside until you are ready to move one.

Repeat this guided meditation as often as you like. When you do this work, you are creating new neural pathways in the brain. And with each repetition, you are reinforcing those new connections, creating healing for your mind, body and soul.