The Stories They Told Me

» Posted by on May 30, 2013 | 16 comments

The Stories They Told Me

We all arrive in adulthood with a bunch of stories we believe about ourselves:

  • I’m good at maths
  • I’m organised and punctual
  • I’m a people person
  • I don’t like mornings.


Some of the less helpful stories that are nevertheless common include:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I shouldn’t say what I think
  • It’s not right to ask for help
  • I can’t cope if things don’t go the way I planned.


These stories come from a variety of sources, mostly a combination of external events and the internal meaning we place on those events.

For example, one person might be told at school that they have no aptitude for music, which might make them try even harder to prove this wrong. Another person who is told this same thing might not bother trying at all because they decide the story is true.

imagesWhat stories have you believed about yourself that might not be really true? Remember the Beatles were told they would never get a record deal. Michael Jordan was told he was too short to play basketball. Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination, and Oprah was told she was ‘unfit for tv’.

We make decisions about our lives based on the stories we believe about ourselves. If we believe we’re not good at making conversation, we might avoid social situations. This means we never get to improve our skills in this area and change the ‘story’. Instead we make it true.

Unless we recognise it as a story and question its truth.


Here are some of the stories I came to believe about myself as I was growing up:

1. I’m not an early riser so I’m lazy

My father was an early riser, and he felt I should be too. While I like mornings once I’m up, I’m never going to rise early by choice. My energy levels are at their lowest in the mornings, and I get much less done then no matter how early I went to bed the night before.

My most productive time has always been after dinner. When I was at university, this was the time I could study most efficiently and get assignments written. I’m also at my most creative at this time (I’m writing this blog post at 10pm).

Why would I go to bed at the most productive part of my day? I get just as much done as a morning person, I just do it at a different time of day. My energy levels rise through the day, like most night owls, whereas morning people tend to drain energy as the day progresses.

True story: I’m productive later in the day.


2. I’m too quiet

My father was also an extrovert. I’m not, I prefer to talk to people one at a time and I like my own company. I often ignore the telephone because I have my head in a book. For years I thought I had to come up with a reason to justify why I wasn’t loud and bubbly and outgoing.

Then I realised I wasn’t the only introvert on the planet, and that it was nothing to be ashamed of. I stopped avoiding parties because I worried about not being able to make small talk. I stopped pushing myself to look like I was having fun when I wasn’t. I started to notice the fact that I’m a good listener.

True story: I’m quiet and that’s ok.


3. I’m not good at sport

I had no confidence in my ability in this area, especially if people were watching me. Unfortunately instead of getting the encouragement I needed, I was the kid who was always picked last for the team. I was afraid of the softball being thrown at me because people threw it so hard, and I never knew when to run or where to.

When the gymnastics teacher asked me to demonstrate a dive roll, I was as stunned as anyone else in the class. She wanted ME to demonstrate? I had a knack for gymnastics, and I did demonstrate for the class quite competently, but I never pursued gymnastics because I ‘wasn’t good at sport’.

True story: I can be good at some sports if I have encouragement.


4. I’m timid

Yes, I shrank from the ball during softball games and I was terrified of putting my head underwater as a child. But that didn’t stop me working on these things, and a lot of other things that were outside my comfort zone.

Courage isn’t about feeling no fear, it’s about ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’. There are lots of things I WASN’T timid about – flying, snakes, travelling alone, the dark – but the things I was fearful of often resulted from being heavily criticised and discouraged rather than being ‘timid’.

Public speaking was one of my biggest fears when I was younger, and I now do it for a living and enjoy it. And the girl who was afraid to put her head underwater is now a good swimmer and has been scuba diving in the South Pacific.

True story: I’m brave when it matters.


5. I’m too slow

I’ve never thrived on ‘busyness’, I need chunks of time to daydream, wander outside in nature, see friends and read. I don’t walk or talk fast, and I don’t load my schedule up with more than one demanding activity a day.

As a child I was often last finished with whatever we were doing in class, and I hated competitive activities that were timed. I was regularly told I was ‘too slow’ and one of my parents’ friends even told me I was ‘weird’ because I was dawdling one day.

At the same time, I always get my work in on schedule (and school assignments were in by the due date), I hate keeping people waiting, and I’m on top of my to do list each day. 

True story: I take my time and enjoy my days.


If you’re starting to think there might be some stories you’ve bought into yourself that would benefit from some closer inspection, you can start with making your own list.

Write down all the things that hold you back and see if you can identify the story behind each block. Then ask yourself:

  • Is it true in all situations?
  • Where’s the evidence for it?
  • Is there any evidence against it?
  • What would change if you were to question it?


Chances are you’re not the person you think you are. You’re much more than your stories, especially the false or inaccurate ones. They don’t tell the WHOLE story of who you are.  

You owe it to yourself and the world to try out some new stories, ones that propel you forward instead of holding you back. Let yourself see your whole story. Usually the people around you have been seeing it for years. Now it’s your turn.

What will your true story be?


image courtesy of Maureen Lang


Need help working out your true story? Click here for my Reclaim Your Truth kit!


  1. Love this, yes the stories we do tell ourselves so often hold us back. Mine has been i am not enough
    My true story; I am strong, creative and free, I live my life with love and passion.
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…BEach Inspiration: BE FinishingMy Profile

    • Love your new story Suzie!

  2. I think I am the complete opposite to you! I have a head full of stories that I am working on healing and stomping down with a heavy boot, even though I made them all up myself. :)
    Nikki@WonderfullyWomen recently posted…Just For You June! – Day 1 – An Inspiring Read.My Profile

    • You probably learned them from elsewhere Nikki, glad you’re working on healing :)

  3. Great post and great stories! Thanks for the wonderful reminder.

    • Thanks so much Danielle x

  4. Great post, I relate well to it.. when I was a young teen and my sister in her 20/s …I could wear her clothes..she used to tell me I would become a big, fat, slob. Even though I recognise that, I know it is not true I am tall and slim…it still rattles around in the back of my mind. Cheers Di
    Di recently posted…OORFL – yet was it… really, really awful!My Profile

    • It’s strange how someone else’s words can make us question ourselves even when the evidence shows otherwise! Thanks for commenting Di x

  5. Loved this post! Thank you so much for sharing. I can relate to so many situations that you describe. I’ll be sharing this post on my page as it contains valuable insight into personal development :)
    sonia freer recently posted…What are you Waiting for?My Profile

    • Thanks so much for sharing Sonia!

  6. Boy oh boy oh boy! I could have written this post myself. Until I realised that it’s ok to be a timid, shy, introverted night-owl, morning people-extroverts were my nemesis! And just a few weeks ago I told an 18 year old boy who wants to be a sports teacher to be encouraging to the crap kids, because they just need some confidence. (He thought I was nuts, but I hope he will remember it anyway) It’s funny how these stories become judgements which become barriers to living a full life. Great post Leanne! x
    Donna recently posted…June Daily Practice: Fall In Love With Your LifeMy Profile

    • Donna, I hope your sports teacher remembers that and acts on it too, it would’ve made a huge difference to so many of us introverted night owls! Thanks for your lovely comment x

  7. I love this post!! I once heard someone say that if we recorded everything we said in a week, and then took the top 10 things we said over and over, those would be the “programs” that are running us. Your post reminded me of that, all of those stories we tell about our selves! Thanks for the reminder that WE have the power to write (or rewrite) our own stories. :)
    Cindie recently posted…Comment on Q&A: How Do I Know If I’m Ready for a New Relationship? by CindieMy Profile

    • Cindie, that’s a great point – and they’re things we would never say to anyone else! It’s a relief to be able to rewrite our stories the way that feels most authentic for us x

  8. Once I became aware of my thoughts/stories, I’ve gained so much freedom……great post Leanne……thank you……..
    gina rafkind recently posted…Purifying Your Space ~ using essential oils to clear away heavy energyMy Profile

    • Thanks Gina, great to hear x


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