The Stories We Tell Ourselves

A cool picture my husband took of us.
A cool picture my husband took of us.

My husband and I are taking over his family business, started by his father 43 years ago. It’s a huge mission that is taking all of our mental resources and an exciting change in our lives. It’s also a tremendous juggling act that is stretching my brain in ways it hasn’t been stretched in a long time.

As I was driving to the office one day, I was suddenly bombarded with defeating thoughts. Who am I to take this on? I don’t have what it takes. I don’t know enough. I looked at my resume and life experiences and started to doubt my qualifications.

Here’s the thing: We look at the facts and create stories around them. Sometimes those stories build us up, creating a sense of confidence and bravado. Other times, we tell stories that knock us down a few notches, making us doubt ourselves and our abilities. When I did coaching with Lisa Neumann at Sober Identity, I learned one very important concept –

The facts are the facts but they don’t necessarily mean what we think they mean.

This is important because it means we can choose what story we tell based on what we perceive as the facts. What happened did indeed happen but what we think and feel about what happened isn’t set in stone. We can use where we are now and what we know now to create a new story about what happened.

That’s why we can look back on a painful experience and have it hurt less or more, depending on where we are in our lives at that moment. When I was a kid, my older brother drew the faces of Kiss on my Barbie dolls with a ballpoint pen. At the time, I was devastated and the bad feelings lingered for years. My child brain interpreted his act to mean he didn’t love me. Now, I think it’s hilarious and I wish I still had those dolls. The facts are the facts. He defaced (or Kiss-faced) my Barbie dolls. I can’t change the facts but I can choose to feel differently about what happened.

None of this occurred to me as I was driving to the office that day. Instead, I was forever changed in a moment. I was visited my beloved Grandpa who died last November. As a Jason Mraz CD played quietly in the background, the song The World As I See It suddenly became louder and a particular lyric stood out:

You are the world and you’re remarkable…

I had no doubt at that moment that Grandpa was singing a love song to me, telling me that he thinks I’m remarkable and that he’s so, so proud of me. In the second it took for that line to be sung, he told me that I’m inextricably connected to everything I need, all of the knowledge, the tools and support. All I have to do is ask. I am part of everything, loved by God and I already have everything I need.

These are facts and they can never change.

A special thanks to two great bloggers whose posts helped me get clarity around the story I wanted to tell – Tale Wagging the Dog by Paul at Message in a Bottle and Letting Go of Old Ideas by Josie at The Miracle is Around the Corner.

10 thoughts on “The Stories We Tell Ourselves

  1. Wow, I was captivated by this post from the first word, and seriously loving every minute of it, and then bam! At the end I’m given credit for helping? No way am I that wise, Karen, but I do appreciate the shout out! I, of course, love Lisa, and now I love her even more, and I love you for taking her lesson and expounding on it so it can get through my thick skull. I am going to write down that bolded sentence to remind myself of that, particularly going into a Mother’s day weekend, where different personalities get together, and my perception can get, let’s just say muddled.

    Thanks for this wisdom just when I needed it!


  2. Light bulb moment! What a great way of looking at life We can’t always change the things that happen to us, but we can change what they mean in our lives. And I love the KISS Barbies!!! That is one of those lovable childhood tales of lore.


  3. Ah…I was wondering why I couldn’t get onto your blog – glad it’s all fixed!

    Yes – the stories. I call this changing history. We get to change how the past was. Not the facts per se – as you mentioned, those don’t change. What happened, happened. But we get to change how we perceive what happened. Like your barbie story (I thought you said you don’t write about barbies and assholes all the time? LOL), either your brother was a jerk, or as you see it now, it was pretty funny. It’s how you want to approach it. You can change (your) history. This is so important for us – we soften our stance, we take things with more love and humour, and allow things to unfold the way they’re supposed to.

    Great post – and thanks for the shout out 🙂



    1. Haha! And here I go writing about Barbie’s and assholes at the same time. What’s funny is that my brother now feels really bad about what he did while I have no bad feelings about it. I guess he changed history too. Thank you Paul!


  4. Wow – what a powerful and beautiful post (I’m a little teary eyed). This is so true – and I cannot imagine a more competent person doing what you’re going to embark upon. you totally underestimate your abilities, brains, creativity and know-how. I know someone else saying it doesn’t always make is believable to the person in doubt, but I’ve always been impressed at your ability to jump into a situation and totally blossom.

    I always feel that I don’t know enough to do most anything and it’s only been just recently that I’ve begun to see and believe that most people feel that way, not just me…I try to remember that we are all doing the best we can with what we have and no one knows everything but knowing where to find the answers and/or help, is really where it’s at.

    And of course music showed you the way – music is the most powerful venue of message that I know. Grandpa was definitely singing it to you. He knows quality runs in his family!


    1. Thank you for your vote of confidence! But you’re right, others can’t tell us. We have to believe it ourselves. I love that Grandpa chose to speak to me through a song too! It was one of those rare moments when whatever divides the dimensions was gone and what he communicated was imprinted on my heart. Amazing.


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