5 Stories that Sabotage Success and Happiness

StoriesYou’re a masterful storyteller.

Trust me, you are; it’s what we humans innately do.

Our brains are wired to retain and organize information in story form. And stories are how we learn, grow, connect, and make sense of the world.

Yup, stories impact us in powerful ways.

And the most impactful stories are the ones we tell ourselves.

Stories about what we can and can’t do, who we are and aren’t, what we do and don’t deserve, what we should and shouldn’t do, and whether it’s okay to shine our light or better to play small.

Talk about potent!

You’re impacted every day by your stories, because they create the context within which you align your choices.

And it’s your choices that move you toward – or away from – success and happiness.

Powerful indeed.

Karin’s story.

When Karin first called me about coaching, she was a stressed-out, exhausted, hot mess.

A successful sales executive with two teenage daughters and one dog, cat, and husband, she wanted help getting a “little more balance” into her life.

And though she didn’t know it, she also needed a new story :-).

As she described her situation, I commented that it sounded like she let everyone else’s needs trump hers. Karin sighed and said, “I know. But that’s just the way I am; that’s never going to change.”


That’s the sound of Karin slamming into her story called That’s Just the Way I Am.

She’d crafted her story so masterfully that she believed it to be an inalienable truth: that she was constitutionally incapable of valuing her needs, wants, and desires as equal to those of others.

More balance? Not with that story!!

And she’s not the only one schlepping around not-gonna-get-you-where-you-want-to-go stories.

Here are 5 common stories that WILL sabotage your success and happiness if you keep them around:

  1. That’s just the way I am.
    We all have deeply rooted-habits, and we all have natural tendencies to be, act, or do in a certain way.

    But it’s not just the way you are. Hang on to that story, and you’ve effectively taken away the possibility of change. (Can you feel the intransigence, even militancy, of this story?)

    Turns out Karin was capable of change. She wasn’t just that way. The same holds true for you.

  2. I can’t [fill in the blank].
    If you believe you can’t, you can’t. That’s what makes this such a sabotaging story.

    Because 99% of the time you actually can, if you’re willing. Yes, it might be scary, push you out of your comfort zone, or conjure up visions of failure. But that doesn’t mean you can’t.

    Change your story to “I can” and you’ll open up space for what you want. “I can” is powerful and confident: I can be strong, I can take a stand for myself, I can find the courage to be me, I can deal with this difficult situation, I can be successful and happy.

  1. I don’t have time to slow down.
    I get it. There never seems to be enough time for everything that’s important.

    But you can’t afford NOT to slow down, because the more you slow down:
    — the clearer you think;
    — the easier things are;
    — the more self-aware you become;
    — the more breathing space you create;
    — and the more capacity you have to see choices.

    Ironically, the slower you go, the further you’ll get and the easier the road.

  1. If only X, then …
    If only will keep you stuck forever.

    And that’s because if only is magical thinking, a wish for something over which you have no control.

    Now is the time to start creating what you want in your life.

  1. I have no choice.
    … the mother of all sabotaging stories.

    You ALWAYS have a choice.

You are a masterful storyteller. And you get to choose whether to make your stories saboteurs or supporters.

Powerful stuff!

“You are what you believe yourself to be” ~ Paulo Coelho

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