The stories we tell ourselves

We create stories, narratives of our own lives,

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[blockquote sc_id=”sc1391074130310″]”We keep passing unseen through little moments of other people’s lives.” – Robert M. Pirsig[/blockquote]

[dropcap type=”dropcap_color” sc_id=”sc1391074166729″]Y[/dropcap] esterday at speakers corner (a monthly practice group in London for people who want to improve their ability to connect and communicate with others), only half the number of people came as usual. I’ve no idea why. It could be the beautiful sunny weather this weekend, engineering works on the tubes, or people just having something better to do.

When there are less than 15 people in the room, the dynamic of a group changes, it’s informal, intimate, and easier to connect with each person. So I switched things up, ran some fun exercises, made jokes I would not normally make, allowed more time for each person to get what they needed.

And I left deflated.


Inspired by the approach Michael Grinder takes to his workshops, and trying to figure out what was going on – I wrote down what I did well, would like more of, less of, and what I’d do differently. Nice list on what I did well (under the circumstances), and nothing unreasonable in the other columns.

And still I was deflated.


Whilst scrambling my eggs for breakfast this morning (weird time for a breakthrough but the thinking part of my brain was occupied) I realised what was going on:

The story I was telling myself was making me unhappy.


They say each one of us has a novel inside of us. I believe that each one of us is writing a story about our lives and that’s happening in real time, you’re writing yours right now as you read this. We can’t help but write it. We’re meaning machines, we experience reality but to make sense of it we pass it through filters of emotion and distortions of time (through past experience, and future projection). Passed through these filters, reality is not objective but subjective. Things are missing. And we have no choice but to create meaning from the information we have. In the end, our reality is in fact simply a story we tell ourselves.

In your story, that person in the Audi who cut you up in traffic this morning was an ars*hole, in their story, they were late to pick up their daughter from school. In your story, the one-to-one with your boss went really badly because you’re not smart enough, in her story, you’re so capable she’s worried for her job. In your story, your life could have changed immeasurably, if only X happy thing had happened, but if X had happened you wouldn’t be the deep, interesting, and compassionate person you are now.

So, what was the story I wrote for myself after speakers corner? In my first story, I expected so much from myself. I wanted to be the difference that made the difference for the people in that room, and I didn’t feel I achieved that. That was the narrative I’d written, and for me that was truth – but it isn’t is it? It’s just a story I created. It is not truth. It serves me in some way (I strive to do better), it doesn’t serve me in others (I am overly critical of myself).

So this morning, I chose a different story. I wrote a story where I was on a journey, not striving to a destination, where those around me are responsible for their own outcomes, with an end result of peace and groundedness over struggle and perfection.

So as the author, the creator, the god of your own life, what are the stories you tell yourself, and tell others about yourself?

What can you change about the stories you write?


[blockquote sc_id=”sc1391074130310″]”The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” – Jordan Belfort[/blockquote]


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