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What stories are you telling yourself?

Do you love a good story? Stories allow you to make sense of your world. Your brain loves to find meaning in things, it is a ‘meaning-making’ machine. To a child: my mum smiled at me, therefore she must love me. The child has learned to make meaning of mum’s soft gestures, and they start a narrative that they are loved.

Sometimes the story helps you. There might be things your parents told you as a child, that you adopted as your story. They might have told you that you were determined and resilient. After a while you became determined and resilient because you kept telling yourself that’s who you are. A teacher might have said you were sporty. So, sport became part of your life from that point on.

You take these small comments, and minor pieces of feedback, and you weave stories around them. The stories become part of who you are. They are omnipotent truths lodged firmly in your psyche. They become a narrative you tell yourself, they become your story.

However sometimes the narrative is harmful. Sometimes it holds you back. Your high school teacher might have told you that you would never amount of anything, and you still believe it.

You think this harmful story is helping you and protecting you. Protecting you from vulnerable situations, from failing, from making a fool of yourself. So, you tell yourself a story about why you can’t do something.

  • I can’t buy a house because… there is no point.
  • I can’t talk to him about that … because he never listens.
  • I can’t lose weight … because I am big boned.
  • I don’t have an alcohol problem … because I could have a day off, if I really wanted to.

But sometimes these stories are not true. They are downright lies. They are lies that you have dressed up in a handy excuse. An excuse that gets you off the hook. And means you don’t have to fix it. And you know that telling lies is harmful, right?

  • You can’t buy a house because you don’t know how to save money, and you don’t know where to start.
  • You can’t talk to your partner, because you have lost your energy to have an open and frank conversation.
  • You can’t lose weight because you are using food to avoid uncomfortable feelings
  • You need a drink because you have forgotten how to relax and have fun without it.

None of these are appealing stories, so there is no wonder you avoid them. It’s much easier to tell the other softer version that paints you as the victim. Truth can be uncomfortable, confronting, and it will annoy the crap out of you. And that’s how you know it’s the truth.

Getting to the bottom of the stories we tell, challenging the beliefs that we cling to, is a central theme in my coaching. Because I believe the truth is hard to look at, but you get used to it after a while, and then you get to solve it. Once and for all. Demon vanquished; stories gone.

What is your lie? What are you trying to protect yourself from? What don’t you want to face? What are you avoiding? What is the truth you are hiding from? What stories are you telling yourself?


I am a coach, mother and wife, living in the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. I grew up in South London, in an immigrant family in the suburbs. But I had good fortune with my parents: Dad was born in Calcutta, India, and my Mum came from communist Poland. In the 1970s I got to leave Croydon, and travel with my family through India, and behind the Iron Curtain. I saw parts of the world that my classmates could not comprehend. It sparked my wanderlust and gave me a great respect for how big and diverse our world is. And I gained an ability to move between different cultures, assimilating into them.

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