Today’s post is about the stories we tell ourselves about why we can’t have what we want. Sometimes, our narratives aren’t helpful and actually can get in the way of our successes. Ultimately, our goal is to have narratives that support and empower us to achieve the vision that we want for our lives, and if our narratives are blocking the truth, we’re going to have a difficult time achieving our objectives.

Right now I am sitting in my car writing this post in Golden Gate Park, because I was unsuccessful in finding a library that was close by that had convenient parking, that was on a street that allowed a left-hand turn, and did not have homeless people hanging out on its’ steps.

That’s my story about how I ended up writing a blog post in my car. Not too sexy and maybe too quotidian for those of you who want some really juicy details. But there is something interesting about it, if you care to read on.

I had an objective and I encountered some obstacles, and when I encountered some obstacles, I made two decisions: 1) What it meant and 2) What I wanted to do about it. This is a good plan, no? We seek to understand what is happening and then decide whether the information needs to be acted upon.

When we encounter information, we are preprogrammed for two decisions: What does it mean? and What do I need to do about it?

Christine Jeffrey

Now the kicker is that we have habits for explaining events to ourselves just as we have habits for eating and exercise; and y’all know how objective we can be when we’re triggered by let’s say, an unfamiliar area, aggressive drivers, traffic patterns that make no sense, no convenient parking and vagrants with cups in their hands ready to ask for coins from library patrons?

What did it mean? Too much hassle, I was wasting time driving around, and I’d be safer in my car, so that is what I decided to do. However, could there have been a better answer had I been willing to look for one?


Here’s where I’m headed: One of the challenges with taking back control of the stories we tell ourselves is how automatic those stories can be. We’ve already decided in a fraction of a second what it means before the rest of us can catch up. This can pose a significant problem if our narratives aren’t supporting us.

Now the stress of finding a parking spot can seem rather mundane to the uninitiated and those unfamiliar with parking in San Francisco. However, when you compound the problem with elements of danger, time constraints, and the frustration of not achieving an objective easily, it’s no different than any challenge you and I can face where the stakes can be much higher.

That is what is so great about the framework below. It works for any challenge you face that requires you to use an empowering explanation to help you to take the actions you need to take in your life, so that, you can experience the life you want to lead.

With practice you can choose a better story

3 Steps to More Empowering Explanations

  1. DO NOT RESPOND – Remember that 10 second rule you learned as a kid. Well, there is some science behind it. Deep breathing decreases cortisol and reduces stress. When you decide in advance not to respond in the moment to any experience that challenges you and you actually do not respond right away, it will give you some needed “breathing room” to choose a better response.
Decide not to decide right away

2. CHOOSE A NARRATIVE THAT SERVES YOU – Now that you have some space, think about how you want to explain what happened to yourself and choose a better explanation that serves you. Byron Katie’s The Work is a perfect example of how to do this. Remember, your explanations are the drivers of the actions that follow.

Choose a better story

3. ACT WITH CONVICTION – Commit to actions that support you and your ultimate goals, because that truly is why you choose to go through the pain of a challenging experience. Commit to yourself and to the vision you have for your life, and when you do, watch how your life changes for the better.

Keep your eyes on the big prize – What’s your endgame?

Follow these three simple steps to craft better explanations about the events in your life. When you get better explanations, your quality of actions go up, you get better results and I want that for you!

If you find that you want a little help with your habit of telling yourself disempowering stories and are in need of more confidence and courage, please check out my free trainings on these two important topics. You get video trainings, worksheets and quote cards to help you practice these two necessary skills. You can’t have an extraordinary life of meaning, contribution, and success without them. They are yours for free as a thank you for joining my community.

Click these two links to learn more:

I believe in you and your ability to figure out the next right steps for you! Leave a comment, ask a question, I am here to help.

Thank you so much for reading and until next time,

With love,

Coach “Choose Better”