I used to joke about Filipino melodramas and movies because the story lines were always so predictable. Given I have minimal understanding of the Tagalog language I knew in general that the stories were always the same; lots of crying, cheating, lying, someone's parent always dies, there's several verbal altercations and insults thrown around and like all melodramas (or as they're called in Latin America, The Telenovela) the story takes FOR-EVER to progress. That's how they get you craving for more until you're hooked!
As I became a mother I began investing more time on improving my communication skills, engaging in my own healing, and leveling up in my professionalism. Then, I started seeing these shows in a different light. I started to realize just how toxic these stories were. As a conscious woman of color I couldn’t simply see The Telenovela as entertainment. They were negative and disempowering messages of women and relationships.
I've always craved positive portrayals of women and
healthy relationships because that’s
what I would want more of in my life
So speaking about my “leveling-up” in my career, I came across a really hard lesson in how I was portraying myself during presentations. After one of my training I shared my background then a colleague of mine offered her feedback and said I was using a lot of “self-deprecating” language. I guess I wasn’t thinking about how I talked about myself, but naively would just talk about my story the best way I knew how. But her feedback put me on this mission to find out what was behind all the negative self-talk and figure out what I needed to do to change my story language.
Living in a patriarchal family structure and society were obvious components influencing my disempowered female stance. And maybe cultural components played a part in being “humble” about my accomplishments, maybe not even acknowledging them at all. At the end of the day I knew I had to understand myself more deeply to know how to SHIFT and talk about me in a positive and impactful way.
Language has energy and words carry weight
So, when I reflected back on that self deprecating talk, I remembered that the story about my not finishing graduate school or not wanting this or that in my career, revealed language that focused on the negative aspects of my life. But in my mind at that time, I didn’t think it was a big deal because it was my truth. The biggest lesson was that it really didn’t matter what the outcome was of my specific story, people will remember more of the energy you bring to the room.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" - Maya Angelou
When I do deep listening with clients I pay attention to the language and words they choose when telling a story or giving a response. Just like my colleague pointed out for me, these are the underlying ways our notions of self-worth can manifest. It can passively reveal some of the hidden beliefs we have about ourselves that may not necessarily come from our own beliefs, but beliefs that other people/society have about us. So when negative self talk happens acknowledge it then get curious about it; where does it come from? How has it served you?
Over the years I’ve discovered more of the complexities that have played a role in this self-deprecating language. There’s so much ongoing work I do like self-reflection, spiritual healing, even reframing simple sentences in email responses, the list goes on and on...it’s FOR REAL challenging sometimes. But if I can offer you three simple ways to reflect on your own story language perhaps we can see how our empowering stories can add so much more to this world, YES?
Here are some reflections I offer you...
What you choose to talk about is what’s most important to you
Without judging yourself or having any expectations about your story, think about those stories you tend to tell others about yourself. Continually sharing specific stories that focus almost entirely on the situation (vs. how it impacts you) is a sign that something hasn’t been resolved in that story. Bring awareness to the drama.
- Are they mostly positive or negative accounts, opinions, or beliefs?
- Can you still feel the rawness in the emotion from that situation each time you tell it?
- What larger lesson is attached to this repeated story or topic?
- What’s important to you about the stories you choose to talk about?
Listen to yourself
There’s no harm in simply recording yourself talk. Oddly enough this action can reveal a lot about how you sound to yourself! Or if you have a trusty mentor or friend who is willing to actively listen to your stories, share with them the stories you hang onto. Ask them for some constructive feedback. You can even have them just ask the questions above after you talk.
Time to level up. Write the last episode of your Telenovela! NO MORE DRAMA!
Write that final episode about the person you were before you realized you were in a telenovela! Gather all your main characters and predictable scenarios for this episode. Consider this your character’s last chance to stay the same cycle of drama, or story line. Then set them free with an epic ending.
- What disheartening stories do you have about your life?
- What happened to you that created the negative outlook?
- Have you given yourself permission to accept these situations?
Now, the challenge; create a new path with a different story language!
- How will you put an end to the drama? Do you (as the main character) die? Transform?
- And who is this new person you’re writing about NOW?
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MEET THE COACH
Raynelle Rino, CPC
A long time social sector professional, Raynelle began her career in the sciences as an ecology field researcher then moved onto environmental education and social justice at the grassroots organizational level in the Bay Area. Her love for nature and youth development brought her to teach in unique settings like alternative high schools, environmental justice neighborhoods, parks, and juvenile justice facilities.
In 2016 Raynelle started Rino Consulting Solutions, a nature-based consulting firm that provides coaching and consulting services for professionals and other businesses. It’s mission is to support and inspire the leaders of today to live in the confidence of their identities as they move through a world in the midst of social, racial, and environmental transformation. Raynelle is a graduate of Humboldt State University with a BS in Biology, a Rising Leaders and 2042 Today fellow, and lives in Oakland with her husband and daughter.