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The Stories We Tell Ourselves


We are in the middle of a heat wave. Hot has taken on new levels of meaning.


I returned home last night to discover  the air conditioning unit in our home that has been serving us well has succumbed to the blistering temperature. Our HVAC expert is performing emergency services all over town and we must wait out turn.


A story immediately forms inside me, a story of misfortune and loss and a longing for coolness and comfort. My internal misery meter inches upward. I can notice it showing up in me as well as my wife and our children. Then I pause, take stock and think of ways to adapt to the inevitable.


Break out the fans, rearrange the sleeping quarters and watch a little TV. My niece shows up after working later in the evening and we all catch up for awhile before turning in. Discomfort is along for the ride but not driving the car.


I get up early and take my son to his summer job as a golf course groundskeeper. He notices he doesn’t want to go and we notice together as I drop him off. My wife wakes up with a nasty reaction to a vaccine. She is not happy. Tylenol and rest to the rescue.


Our HVAC expert is nowhere in sight, working to restore coolness to others. I plunk myself in front of my IMac with my trusty fan and get to work. I notice my misery meter has not moved much and we are all getting stuff done.


The stories we tell ourselves take two forms. One kind of story is where we set off in a direction, encounter wanted and unwanted experiences and keep moving toward the people and things important to us. Another is where we set out, encounter obstacles, get bogged down and struggle. Experiences come at us either way.


Getting some psychological flexibility going helps to notice the stories we tell ourselves and others. Getting perspective on who and what is important allows us to tell more stories that work and get less stuck on the ones that don’t.


So far, so good.


Oh, I also had a story about how I wouldn’t be able to write this blog post :-)

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