The Facts and Stories We Tell – Ourselves

A book I have enjoyed greatly and have commented on is Tony Schwartz’s The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working.  In Chapter 12, I found something very powerful.  It is about facts, how we interpret them and, more importantly, the stories we tell ourselves based on those facts.  Unfortunately, most of the time we tend to develop negative & destructive and untrue stories from these facts.

Following is part of his chapter summary or what he calls “The Big Ideas” from chapter 12.  The book is well worth adding to your “tool kit”.

A fact is something that can be objectively verified by any person.  It is irrefutable.  A story is something we create to make sense of the facts.  We can’t change the facts, but we do have a choice about what we make of them.

  • We can develop the capacity to influence the stories we tell ourselves, so that they empower rather than undermine us.

  • Awareness by itself can powerfully diminish our reactivity.  By simply being curious about how we’re responding, we move from being the subject of our feelings to making them the object of our observation.

  • Realistic optimism balances a hopeful and positive experience with a recognition that the desired outcome may or may not occur.

  • When we default reactively to telling negative stories, we almost invariably assign ourselves the role of victim.  It feels better not to blame ourselves for disappointments, but the victim role undermines our power to influence our circumstances.  The alternative is to intentionally look for where our responsibility lies in any given situation – and then take remedial action on any part of it that we’re in position to influence.

  • Counterintuitively, we’re strongest when we can freely acknowledge our shortcomings alongside our strengths. By accepting the whole of who we are, we no longer have to defend our value do vigilantly.  Instead we can use the best of the feedback we get to learn and grow.

Makes sense to me – I know that I struggle with almost always automatically assuming negative on facts & allow the story I tell myself to hinder my growth and effectiveness.  Often I am wrong!  I am not advocating some type of Pollyanna view of things focused on building self-esteem based on “positive thinking”, but what I believe Mr. Schwartz is saying & what I think, is that we need to not automatically assume negative, but to be as objective as we can be in looking at the facts of a situation and seeing how we can learn and grow from what we have learned.  Use these experiences to grow, not as a way to tear yourself down.

What about you?  What kind of stories do you tell yourself?

Hope you have a great week serving the Lord and His people – remember – management is ministry!


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