Can We Stop Telling Stories?


Freedom is man’s capacity to take a hand in his own development. It is our capacity to mold ourselves. –Rollo May

As a human being, I am a meaning maker. I’m compelled to make sense of the world around me. I do this by telling myself stories. But I’ve discovered, as I become more present, that I have less of a need to make up stories. And, when I do make up stories, I make up healthier ones.

When I look back at my childhood I realize that my parents defined everything for me, and I rarely questioned the beliefs I was given.

As I grew into adulthood I continued to be influenced by those early beliefs, and at times I used them as excuses to justify why I was unhappy or why I behaved poorly. For example, I remember times when I was reactive to other people and I would say, “Well, that’s because of how I was treated as a child.”

That may be true, but I acted as if it was forever true, as if I had no choice. That wasn’t true.

After learning to Live Consciously, I understood that the way I make meaning—the stories I tell myself—create the life I live today. If my life is satisfactory, it’s probably because I’m making constructive meaning. If I’m anxious, dissatisfied, or living in a contentious relationship, I probably need to change my stories.

Here are examples of some of the stories that can unconsciously direct our lives:

I married the man, so I need to make the best of it.

My family was crazy; that’s why I’m the way I am.

I have a broken heart, I’ll never have love again.

Men can’t be trusted.

Life is hard.

Relationships aren’t easy.

I should be loved unconditionally.

I am unlovable.

I am unhappy because they never do this or always do that.

Questioning our beliefs and stories, judgments, fears, regrets, and remembering that they are all fabricated by us—or given to us by someone else—allows for new possibilities from which we can freely and consciously make choices for how we live today.

Victim to my own stories

If I am not conscious that what I’m telling myself is made up, I can forever be a victim to my beliefs and ideas.

I may have known this intellectually, but not until I went to my first Live Conscious retreat, where I learned Perception Language, did I learn to recognize—in the moment—how I was constantly making up stories. After steeping myself in this new way of using language I became far more conscious and intentional in the ways I communicated.

A patient once told me about a mentor who she said, “taught me everything I know.” This mentor, she said, laid out a foundation of wisdom that guided her ever since she heard it. The one piece of wisdom was: “You will tell your story until you don’t need to tell it anymore.”

But what the mentor didn’t tell my patient was that this wisdom she shared—it was made up too. Was it really wise advice? Perhaps we don’t need to keep telling our stories at all. There is another option. Once our stories have been brought to consciousness, we can, actually choose to do two things.

  1. At times we can stop the stories all together. To learn more about this read this article.
  2. We can learn to create healthier stories.

We have a choice to tell ourselves healthier tales and when we do so we change the quality of our lives and relationships.

My new story

Here’s my current story: my stories are not me. The real me, the me behind all my stories—the witness, the observer of those stories, is the me I now focus on and nurture. And that “me”, I believe is often free to exist without stories.

I also recognize that there are times when I need my stories—I need something to make sense of what’s going on around me—but I can choose what stories I tell myself, I can focus on what is good in my life, and make my life be one that I consciously choose every day, moment by moment.

What I found was that when I stopped telling certain stories, I had to let go of my excuses for behaving in certain ways. But I also empowered myself to behave in other ways and I’ve come to experience myself as more mature, more centered, happier and more at peace.

For fun, in the comment section below, why don’t you write a short sentence or two that captures your story. Maybe share your “old” story and then share your “new” story. I’d love to hear what you have to say.


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14 Responses to Can We Stop Telling Stories?

  1. Jane Garrison April 3, 2016 at 8:23 am #

    Old story=husband said he loved me only when he wanted sex.

    New story=my husband loves me.

    We have been married 45 years. The best is yet to come.

  2. Hannah Eagle April 3, 2016 at 11:48 am #

    Dear Jane,

    Thank you for sharing your story, the old and the new. In three days, Jake and I will celebrate our 23rd anniversary and we too perceive the best is yet to come.


  3. Sarah April 3, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

    Old story…I am not loveable
    New story …I’m a deeply loveable person

  4. Hannah Eagle April 3, 2016 at 2:31 pm #

    Dear Sarah,

    Yes! When I walk around with that perception, my whole world begins to look different.
    And I find that when I behave in ways that reinforce this view——when I am loving as well as lovable——I stop questioning my lovableness.

    Thanks for your comment,

  5. Jake Eagle April 3, 2016 at 7:03 pm #

    My story is that I found an amazing woman to marry and it’s the smartest thing I ever did. And I’m sticking with my story and with my wife.

  6. claribelle April 4, 2016 at 4:13 am #

    Old story. I have been unlucky in life re parents, relationships, health and inability to have children.

    New story . Despite some hardships I have made a great life for myself. As a result of tough times I am resilient and empathetic.

    • Hannah Eagle April 4, 2016 at 11:17 am #

      A far more powerful story, Claribelle. And I’m curious where this new story will take you.
      Thank you for sharing yourself.

  7. Juan José April 4, 2016 at 8:57 am #

    Old story: I have had stages of fetish lingerie and a not-very-guided adolescence by my parents. I’m of treatment, but my friends affected now are far from my and suffer much what go talking about by the people.

    New Story: My lack of sex is because of a phobia to privacy. My attachment figure is my mother, and, with therapy, I’m trying to break with it and be able to access the healthy woman/man. Not by devious paths.


    • Hannah Eagle April 7, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

      I appreciate you sharing yourself, Juanjo. My sense is that you are taking responsibility for your own behavior and I encourage your to keep working on yourself—trying to find a balance between accepting yourself and being in the world in a way that allows you to have meaningful connections with other people. Remember our stories can change and the most important thing is that we become conscious that we are making up stories all the time and take responsibility for the stories we create.

  8. Nickolas April 5, 2016 at 5:22 am #

    Old story: you’ve completely missed the boat.
    New story: if there are boats, they’re illusions.

    • Hannah Eagle April 7, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

      I am imagining this new story feels remarkably different to you. The boats were imagined, there is nothing you have missed and you can figure out what boat you want to be on each day.

  9. Ellen April 6, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

    Old Story: A long marriage to an alcoholic, abusive psychopath ruined my life.

    New Story: I have grown so much through this experience and am strong and resilient.

  10. Hannah Eagle April 7, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

    Yes, Ellen, what a shift! With your new story you’re more focused on who and how you are NOW. Welcome to the present moment, the only real moment..

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