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Thriving in 2018: Create Truth-Based Narratives


Sometimes we find ourselves in situations we’d prefer to escape. And we know that we will meet unsavory tasks and painful scenes in the future. While we can’t avoid this, we can change our response.

In any situation, the internal stories we tell ourselves about what is happening can make things worse (think: “Ugh, this is too difficult.”) or better (think: “Yay, this is a new challenge.”) As authors of these stories, we have the opportunity to eliminate story lines that don’t serve us well and create truth-based narratives that do.

We create stories everyday. It’s part of how we find meaning in the world around us. When negative stories prevail, they rob us of strength and agency. That’s what happened to Gary.

Gary was frustrated. His hands gripped the air as he described a recent meeting with his boss.

“She thinks I don’t know what I’m doing, so she gives me all of the boring work. Whenever she does give me a challenging project, she constantly checks on me, waiting for me to fail. Then, when I do need help, she doesn’t return my messages. She just wants me to screw up so she can say ‘I told you so’.”

Challenged by his coach to separate what was in fact happening from what he thought was happening, Gary was able to identify that:

  • Gary was assigned both simple and challenging projects.
  • His boss offered assistance when Gary was doing something difficult.
  • Sometimes his boss did not immediately return his phone calls.

With this awareness, Gary was able to create truth-based narratives: “I get to work on simple projects as well as challenging ones. When I work on challenging projects, help is available. Sometimes I don’t get a response from my boss as quickly as I would like. When that happens, I can follow up and ask how I can improve her response rate.”

Of course, creating new stories doesn’t necessarily mean they will displace the ones that have plagued us for years. It takes ongoing work to rewrite the lines of our life. But it gets easier with each new chapter.

How to thrive: Challenge negative thinking by discerning what is fact and what is fiction. Create truth-based narratives that elicit desirable thoughts and feelings.

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