One Surprisingly Simple Phrase that Will Change Your Life


Angel Chernoff

Many of the biggest misunderstandings in life could be avoided if we would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?”

And while that question alone can help us reframe our thoughts and broaden our perspectives, using the simple phrase “The story I’m telling myself…” as a prefix to troubling thoughts has undoubtedly created more “aha moments” for our students in recent times. Here’s how it works…

“The story I’m telling myself…” can be applied to any difficult life situation, or any circumstance in which a troubling thought is getting the best of you.

For example, perhaps someone you love (husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.) didn’t call you on their lunch break when they said they would, and now an hour has passed and you’re feeling upset because you’re obviously not a high enough priority to them. When you catch yourself feeling this way, use the phrase:

“The story I’m telling myself is that they didn’t call me simply because I’m not a high enough priority to them.”

Then ask yourself:

  • Can I be absolutely certain this story is true?
  • How do I feel and behave when I tell myself this story?
  • What’s one other possibility that might also make the ending to this story true?

Give yourself the space to think it all through, carefully. Mull it over, mindfully.

On the average day, I bet your answer to question #1 is “no,” and your answer to #2 is “not very good.” And I hope question #3 gets you doing more of…

“I don’t know why they haven’t called yet, but maybe…”

  • “…they’re extremely busy at work today and barely had a lunch break.”
  • “…they forgot to charge their phone last night and their battery is dead.”
  • “…there was a misunderstanding and they were waiting for me to call them.”

Challenge Yourself to Think Differently

“The story I’m telling myself…” and the three related questions gives you a tool for revisiting and reframing the troubling or confusing situations that arise in your daily life. From there you can challenge the stories you’re subconsciously telling yourself and reality-check them with a more objective mindset, which ultimately allows you to make better decisions about everything.

So challenge yourself to use this tool… to think differently.

Detach yourself from the stories you’re telling yourself. Go deeper into reality. Don’t just look at the surface. Investigate. Observe without presupposing.

Who knows what you’ll see when you stop looking through a lens drastically narrowed by half-truths, and you start seeing things with a clearer mind. Maybe you’ll start seeing things you never saw before. Maybe you’ll start experiencing things you never experienced before. Maybe you’ll learn lots of new lessons you needed to learn. Maybe you’ll gradually become the person you always knew you could be.

And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and get our lives back on track.


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