Today’s post is about the stories we tell ourselves to explain events. 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 at finding a library that was close by, had convenient parking, 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 a really juicy story. 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 way to evaluate, no? We seek to understand what is happening and then decide whether the information needs to be acted upon.

We have habits for explaining events to ourselves just as we have habits for eating and exercise

A challenger said this

Now the kicker is that you and I 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, inconvenient parking and vagrants with cups in their hands ready to ask for coins from library patrons?

What did getting a parking spot mean to me? Too much hassle and fear. I’d be safer in my car, so that is where I decided to stay.

Could there have been a better answer had I been willing to look for one?

Yes!

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 our brain can catch up. This can pose a significant problem when our narratives are biased and habitual.

Now the stress of finding a parking spot can seem rather mundane to the those who are 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 can work 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 quality of life you want.

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, it will give you some much 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. Choose an 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. Commit yourself 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?

So the next time you find yourself yelling at those crazy drivers, practice the pause, choose a better story and act on that. You’ll be happy that you exercised that kind of power!

I believe in you and your ability to figure out the next right steps for you!

Thank you so much for reading and until next time,

With love and respect,

Coach