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  • Donna Richards Muriel

What Are You Telling Yourself?


When we have the courage to walk into our story and own it,

we get to write the ending.

-Brené Brown


We are, by nature, storytellers. We tell ourselves stories all day long about each situation we encounter and every person we interact with. However, most of these stories are unconscious. We have no idea we’re telling ourselves a story and yet, the stories we tell shape how we think and feel, how we show up, the impact we have on others and, ultimately, how we experience life.


Do you remember my partner at the Better Angels workshop? We were supposed to be practicing skills to stay in productive conversation with people with different political views. However, that wasn’t the experience I was having. I was in conversation with a woman I found to be blaming and accusatory. Fortunately, I noticed my stomach clenching and shoulders tightening, which was my clue to ask myself, “What am I telling myself right now?” I’m not particularly proud of the story I was in, which went something like this, “What’s wrong with this woman? She has no right to judge me like that. Her comments don’t even make sense. She’s crazy.” I had no idea I was in this story. But, I can tell you for sure that if I hadn’t paused to tune in, I would have behaved very differently than I ultimately did in that conversation, which turned out to be quite productive.


We think we’re on the receiving end of our external world and what’s happening to us, but that’s backward. The truth is, the stories we tell ourselves all day long directly impact how we show up, how we lead and the outcomes we get. But, before you can change your story, you’ve got to know what it is.


Pause Practice:


Set a timer to go off 3 times during the day. When it goes off:


  1. Tune in and notice if you’re holding tension in your body

  2. Ask yourself, “What am I saying to myself right now?”

  3. If the story you’re telling yourself is moving you toward an outcome you want, keep it. If not, change it.


Do this for at least 3 days.

Notice the impact of being more aware of the stories you’re telling yourself.


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