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The Story I Tell Myself

The ABC’s of Telling Yourself a Good Or Bad Story

We all do it.  We all take data in through our senses and tell ourselves a story based on that data.  Many times the data produces a true story immediately.  By “true story” I mean that “the story I tell myself” is accurately supported by the data taken in by my senses.

But occasionally we digest the data in a certain way in which we make a big leap of epic proportions, where the only conclusion we come to is that the sky is falling and our world is certainly coming to an end.   This is what I refer to as a “false story”.  By this I mean that “the story I tell myself” is not accurately supported by the data taken in by my senses.

For example, let’s say that I am a man who inwardly struggles with the fear of rejection.  One night I go to a party, and as I enter the room there are four men conversing who turn and look at me and three of them are laughing.  Perhaps the “story I tell myself” is that one man just made a comment at my expense at which the others had a good laugh.  In this case, “the story I, Thaddeus Heffner, tell myself” feeds into my fear of rejection and ultimately shame.  More than likely, I will not approach these men at all as it will spell certain doom and rejection.  In the end I reject these men before they can reject me.

Let’s break this down in a more simple fashion known as the ABC’s of the “Story I tell myself”.

A = Activating event (data)

B = Belief (“the story I tell myself”)

C = Consequence  (the end result)

Activating event: I step into a room, four men look at me and three of them laugh
Belief: These men are speaking negatively about me and laughing at my expense
Consequence: I will reject these men and remain isolated and alone

“The story I tell myself” here is a false story because my belief is not substantiated by the data.

Let’s try this again, and this time “the story I tell myself” will be only what I can logically discern from the data.

Activating event: I step into a room, four men look at me and three of them laugh
Belief: All I know is that when someone new enters a room, often a normal response is for people to turn to see who it is.  I happened to walk in the room at the same time three of the men were laughing.  Perhaps the fourth man told a joke?
Consequence: Four men with a sense of humor? I think I’ll go introduce myself.

“The story I tell myself” here is as true a story I can tell myself with the basic data.

To change “the story I tell myself” where it is accurately supported by the data is to change how I will experience the world around me.  It is a courageous way to live life.  Rather than dealing with the racket that fear can bring, stick to the facts and make it as simple as ABC.

Posted by Thaddeus Heffner, MMFT – March 29, 2011

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