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Re-doing Stories

The facts are sparse and have no juice


“A man snatched my phone. I ran after him and hit him. He cut me with a knife. I was in the hospital for three weeks.”

This next story gives it some juice, doesn’t it?

“The crook grabbed my precious phone from me. I felt violated. I had to get my phone back so I ran after him and hit him; I was so enraged at this devil. He yanked out a hidden knife and viciously slashed my belly open. I thought I might die and I suffered in the hospital for three weeks. I won’t ever feel safe again on the streets. I am scarred for life. You never know who you can trust.”


But that is just one possible story, just one interpretation, an interpretation that creates hell on earth.

Here’s a different story, with a different type of juice


“A strange man quickly took the phone from my left hand, where I had left it vulnerable. In retrospect, I can imagine the temptation that my very nice phone might have given to him and others. I noticed my machinery taking over as I rushed after him and hit him. Not surprisingly, he reacted in fear and anger and cut me with his knife. I felt so loved and cared for as people began to gather and show concern for my condition. Someone even dialed 911. As I watched the whole drama play out, I felt like I was in this amazing adventure, maybe just a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I didn’t want to miss a moment of it! As I was recovering for three weeks in the hospital, I saw some new possibilities and insights about my life that I probably would have never had otherwise. That man who cut me will never know what gift he unknowingly gave to me, not that I want him to do it again!  LOL...”


This is an interpretation that creates heaven on earth.

Same facts; different stories

The first story and second story do not differ in the facts of what happened. They differ only in the thoughts, beliefs, what was focused on, and the story that was created, either proactively or reactively, around and about those facts. 

You will not and cannot always be the architect of what happens in your life. Regardless, you will make stories about whatever happens. That is the design of human beings. More than the facts, those stories determine the quality of your life. Those stories are created either reactively or proactively. Reactively created stories, those created by default, may or may not be empowering and fulfilling. When you proactively create or re-create stories, those stories can always serve you and support you.

“The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”

—John Milton (English poet, polemicist, man of letters 1608-1674)


"Reality is kinder than our thoughts about it."

—Byron Katie (American speaker and author, 1942-)

How my friend disappeared her blame towards her boyfriend


My friend was upset about a political issue in America involving a Supreme Court nominee. She shared her concern with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend responded with a question about the circumstances that made her angry. She lashed out at him. Then he refused to talk with her any more about the topic. This made her feel unloved and even more angry. She was very stuck in her HOGAB and was suffering deeply. She asked me for coaching. I suggested that she create a new interpretation of her boyfriend’s behavior that would allow her to feel his love and caring. I advised, “My boyfriend was just trying to understand the situation more deeply by asking the question he did. And, then, when I lashed out at him and because he loves me so much, to avoid the upset getting worse between us, he decided the best course of action was to not talk about it anymore.” My friend was able to step into this new interpretation. She called her boyfriend, apologized to him, and told him that he was very smart to refuse to talk with her about that issue.

How my mother dodged a childhood trauma with her inventive interpretation


My mother, an only child at that time, was five years old in 1927. She overheard her parents, who were dirt-poor farmers the mountains of Tennessee, talking about how it would have been much better if their daughter had not been born so soon after they got married.


In overhearing this, my mother’s heart swelled with pride as she told herself, “I was so powerful I came when I wanted to!”

Creating a new story of a traumatic event (traumatic because of my story) when I was eight-years-old

When I was eight, my classmates and I were playing a pretty rough game called "King of the Mountain" during morning recess time on the playground of my country school in Flatrock, South Carolina. Using a three-foot tall pile of dirt as a prop, everyone of us was pushing everyone else in an attempt to stay as the "king" at the top of that pile of dirt. I loved this game. Everyone was pushing and yelling. 

I killed my classmate; my life was over

Suddenly, I noticed that everyone else was silent. I looked around and saw one of my classmates lying motionless on the ground. We all thought he was dead. I heard my classmates whispering, "Who did it?" Quickly, I heard others say, "Dwight did it." I was not popular and everyone quickly got on the bandwagon so that, by the time the teacher arrived, it had been decided that I was the guilty guy. 

I thought to myself, "I'm only eight years old and I've already killed someone. My life is over." Of course, looking back, I know that, in a game like that, it's nobody's and everybody's "fault." But, from my perspective then, getting blamed for it was just as bad as having actually intending to hurt someone and kill them. I cried the rest of the day. Special note: later we found out that the boy was not dead. He had just been knocked unconscious.

Pugnacious Dwight

Also, I had another thought, a resolve and promise I made to myself. Up until that time, I was a scrappy kid. I often got into fights with other boys and I was "always right." I remember one birthday party I attended when I was in the second grade where I got into scraps with three separate boys and gave each one a bloody nose. Their mothers were not happy with me.

A life resolve: "I will never fight again"


But, after thinking I "had killed someone and my life was over," I resolved to myself, "Unless it's an obvious issue of life and death for me or my family, I will never fight again."

I kept that resolve. That was a turning point of my life. I cannot know for sure, but if I had continued through the rest of my life giving myself permission to get violent whenever I thought that I was "right" and the other person was "wrong," I could have ended up with a life where I was a frequent or permanent jailbird.


A new story: what a gift that was for me then!

And, at the same time, that event still lived with me as a trauma for many years into my adult life. But then, with the help of a counselor, I was able to see what a gift "getting blamed for killing someone" was for me at that time. I doubt that anything milder than that would have altered my previously pugnacious temperament. In addition, today I have understanding and compassion for the behavior of my classmates and the teachers, something I didn't have at that time.

Two ways to undo your disempowering stories and beliefs that stimulates your suffering

The first way to undo disempowering beliefs is to create new empowering beliefs

Our automatic thoughts, which includes our beliefs and interpretations about what happened and what's true or not true, determine the quality of and influence the results in our life. The ten-minute cognitive workout is a step-by-step, day-by-day way to change those automatic thoughts into ones that serve you better and remove your suffering. Go here to learn how to set it up.

The second way I call the "Byron Katie" way

Byron Katie is an amazing “coach,” although she probably wouldn’t call herself that. Her specialty is to identify and undo any belief that stimulates suffering. 

Here are the instructions for how to do that with yourself.

Another way that Byron Katie can support you in dismantling your HOGAB is by watching her videos on YouTube. Over 60,000 available. Just search on “Byron Katie.” Or, if you want to look for something more specific, enter a search string like:


  • “Byron Katie” guilt

  • “Byron Katie” depression

  • “Byron Katie” betrayal

  • “Byron Katie” anger

  • “Byron Katie” love

  • “Byron Katie” suffering

  • “Byron Katie” freedom

  • “Byron Katie” fears

  • “Byron Katie” forgiveness

  • “Byron Katie” relationships

  • “Byron Katie” hurt

  • “Byron Katie” happy

  • “Byron Katie” approval


You get the idea. I highly recommend her.

Do you have your stories? Or do your stories have you?

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