Our Internal "Stories" 

Create Our Reality

We all make judgments (or tell ourselves "stories") about other people's thoughts and intentions -- and about how things "should" be. But do the stories you tell yourself bring peace and motivation or cause distress and inertia?

Don't believe everything you think! You get to decide which thoughts (stories) to listen to and which to detach from. Being at peace with people as they are, and the world as it is, begins with managing your own thought life. 

We create internal "stories" every day to make sense of the world around us. We make up "stories" (or beliefs or judgments) about why someone said something, what they meant when they said it, and much more. 

We tell ourselves stories about how the world "should" be, or what's going to happen in the future.


The "stories" we tell ourselves are the interpretations or meaning we give to facts, data, or events. Our stories can even be just what we imagine people are thinking or feeling. 

Often, a lot of our stories have to do with self-evaluation -- the judgments or self-criticims we make about ourselves, especially in comparison to other people. They are our internal self-talk, which can be either uplifting and motivating or shaming and incapacitating. 

The most important things to understand about our internal stories are:

1) The stories we tell ourselves are not data. They are opinions or conclusions, not facts. Facts are observable (generally) data about what actually happened. Stories are our beliefs about the facts.

2) Our stories are the bridge between data (facts) and feelings (emotions). Our stories lead directly to our emotional responses.

 

If someone smiles at you and you tell yourself that person is friendly, you'll have one emotional response. If that same person flashes that same smile and you tell yourself he or she is mocking you, you'll have an entirely different emotional response. The data hasn't changed, just your stories. And your stories have led you to a completely different place, emotionally.

3) We have the power to decide which stories to believe or listen to (or "attach" to) and which stories to let pass through our minds and dismiss.

Our stories can lie to us! Just because you think a thought doesn't make it true! Some people get so attached to their stories that they even allow their stories to become their identity. ("I am the one who isn't as smart as everyone else.")

4) In general, if we are listening to lies, we feel a sense of hopelessness, darkness, resentment, stress or other forms of distress. When we are listening to truth, we typically feel uplifted, hopeful, calm—or at least resolved and more at peace. The very fact that a thought causes distress is a very good indication that it’s probably a lie.

Byron Katie writes and teaches extensively on challenging distressing thoughts. Learn more at www.thework.com