Our Circle of Thoughts: 5 ways we hurt ourselves and 5 things to consider when telling stories



Our Circle of Thoughts

Aristotle said “We Are What We Repeatedly Do”. I want to share with you the cycle that occurs with negative self-talk. Negative thoughts lead to developing a negative belief that does not serve you. This leads to negative or limiting habits, which creates similar experiences to further reinforce the cycle. This creates more experiences reinforcing these thoughts. You see, being the creatures of habit we are, we tend to allow this vicious cycle over and over and over again without realizing the effect this has on our mind.

5 ways we hurt ourselves:

  1. We look at things in black or white categories. There is no grey. Seeing things only in black or white limit us. Do you know anyone like this?
  2. We view a singular negative event as the extreme ‘always’ and ‘never’ situation.
  3. We think of the negatives and discount the positives. If someone gives us a compliment, we tend to discount it or respond with a quick compliment back. This takes away from you. When we say things like “oh, this old thing…” or “I really like your xxx” in response to a compliment. Comments like this hurt us and it takes away from sincere compliments people pay you. 
  4. We blow things out of proportion without looking at all the facts.
  5. We see only our ‘story’ about what happened.

Our stories are pretty amazing. We can be attached to our stories, can’t we? Just think of a time when you were really excited about something and the person you were talking to about this awesomeness wasn’t as excited as you were about the situation and generally didn’t share your enthusiasm. What if you were talking on the phone and as you are sharing, you find silence on the other line. You find the person on the other line has muted you. Deflating, huh?  Have you ever lost your passion for your story when this happens? If this has happened to you, it can throw you off balance for a bit and it can actually be hard to get excited about your story again.  Have you ever talked to somebody about something when suddenly something happened to interrupt your flow of thought and you forgot what you were talking about? I’m sure this has happened to all of us as some time or another.  I attended a conference once where one of our assignments was to talk to a partner about a story over and over and over and over and over again. Our job was to communicate the same story to this person over and over. This was such a powerful experience because eventually we lost our passion for our story and we became detached from it. The point of the exercise taught us that our story is simply our interpretation of what really happened and the truth or facts may be somewhere in the middle.

In the workshops I facilitate on this topic, I have everyone spend a few minutes with a partner sharing something they are passionate about. After a bit, I ask the listeners to stop listening and do the complete opposite. That is, the listener’s job is to completely ignore the person talking. They are to look away, file their nails, check voice mails or do something, anything but listen. This accomplishes something similar in that the people sharing their story suddenly lose interest in their story or can get angry about not being heard. Either way, the passion is gone and it’s difficult to get back. It eventually becomes unimportant yet a few moments prior, they were so attached to their stories as if it was truly part of them. In another setting, groups of people were designated listeners and other groups were storytellers. They were to tell their story for two (2) minutes and move to the next listener and repeat their story over again and again and again. Something happens after about 20 times of telling our story… we tend to get tired of telling it! As such, we become detached from our story…even just a bit. Our stories are just that: stories. They are our interpretation of what happens in our lives. Sometimes, it is difficult to put things in perspective and our stories can consume us as we can be set in our ways of being.


5 things to consider when telling a ‘story’ 

The next time you want to tell a story, here are five (5) things to consider:

1.     Is this the right story to tell and the appropriate audience to share your story with?

2.     Is this the right time and place to tell your story?

3.     Is this a story you are sharing multiple times with the same people? Better yet, is this your story to tell?

4.     Is your story negative or is it uplifting?

5.     How does telling this story serve you? How about those you share it with?

We all have stories to tell. Sometimes life brings us down and gives us situations that test us, grow and stretch us; all the while preparing us for the future. We can all learn from tragedies or traumas. After all, it’s from these deep, emotional experiences we can heal, connect, reinvent us and inspire others. Some stories create (and share) legacies. They are a way of connecting, learning and teaching. Remember, we think about what we are going to say before we say it (most of the time). We all have stories to tell. Make yours count!

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Tandy Elisala

Family Caregiver Coach, Cancer Empowerment Advocate and Chief Inspiration Officer at Center for Inspiring Greatness | Empowered Family Caregiver
Tandy Elisala is passionate about helping family caregivers go from being overwhelmed and stressed to empowered and calm. Tandy went through cancer four times and learned how to heal using conventional, complementary, and alternative therapy. Tandy left her corporate career to take care of both parents simultaneously while raising three kids as a single mom. She took care of both parents for 2 1/2 years until their respective deaths. Tandy now teaches what she learned on her journey. Tandy is a family caregiver coach, a multiple best-selling author, inspirational speaker and mom to three adult kids, one angel dog and one diva cat.

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