The Stories We Tell Ourselves

We are the stories we tell ourselves, whether good or bad.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes


Did last night’s gig go south? In the morning, you keep thinking about how things could have been better. There were missed cues, lack of focus, and distractions that caused a meltdown. It was like a game of dominoes; the mistakes fell from one player to the next.

Crowd-response was lousy because the band blew it, which carries over into your personal life. Then there is the nagging feeling your proficiency is lacking. You tell yourself you are not that good.

The next day all you can think about is the previous night’s disaster. The audience response was terrible. You start thinking that it’s always like this. You have put in all this effort and hard work, for what? The more you believe how bad the performance was, the more you think it affects your personal life.

Welcome to the Merry Go Round. I have been there, and you have been there; we have all been there. What are we going to do about it?

Self Talk

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I have an internal dialogue. Wandering around the house, a person might catch me yammering away to myself. That’s self-talk.

The subconscious mind shows its influence and reveals our thought process. Things our self-talk shows us include our beliefs, questions, and ideas. All of us deal with the positive and negative.

The way we think and talk to ourselves is dependent on our personalities.

Question reality.

You are the source of your creative power. Why bring yourself to dark places when you have control? That is part of the stories we tell ourselves.

Often, self-doubt and despair are based on the presumed judgment of others. What is it you think they are assuming? If they are judging you, which they are probably not, then they can only assess outward circumstances. There is no way they can understand your situation’s truth; they are not living it.

Why do we put so much credence on what others think of us?

Mental real estate can become clogged with the concerns of other people. If we have to worry about their preconceptions, there may not be room for ourselves. The goal is to be the person you need to be. By being that person, then you can help others.

Opinion Ghettos

One of my good friends, Billy, spent studio time recording his originals. The engineer told him that his tunes were not marketable.

My opinion? First, what business does the recording engineer have voicing his opinion? An unsolicited judgment on his part is not warranted; that’s not what he is being paid for. Second of all, in the long term, aren’t we writing these songs for ourselves? Regardless of the money that will or will not come, we would still be there, doing it.

Billy’s inner soul is his creativity, first and foremost.

Tomorrow, the doubt we experience today may not be there. Listening to the negativity that others heap on us can reinforce our own self-doubt. The only difference between confidence to a lack of confidence is the story we tell ourselves.

One reason people dump their opinions on others- their own self-talk is terrible. They feel better because you are not as good as they want to see themselves. Those people are afraid to face the truth.


I catch myself slipping into the habit of making fun of folks who do not see things as clearly as I do. I need to be careful and guard myself against that. This sort of presumption is dangerous and can lead to an overblown ego. I am not interested in being condescending and patronizing. I’ve Been there before; I’m not fond of that kind of Bryan.

Respecting others is a better way to live.

Then there is self-respect. For a lot of people, this is fleeting. Some of my friends have had this challenge. The isolation of the Pandemic hasn’t helped.

Other persons start becoming better than themselves. At times they focus on the negative and ignore their achievements. They become self-critical, don’t accept compliments, feel sad, depressed, and ashamed.

I can relate. Been there, done that, stood in line, and bought the ticket.

How did I climb out of it? I don’t know if it ever really goes away. There is always that edge of self-doubt. Is what I’m doing building my self-esteem?

Self-Esteem And The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Biology can be a contributing factor. Depression can be a major component of low self-esteem. Depression runs in my family; I have seen its effects first hand.

Whenever I have dealt with being depressed, it has always been situational. My solution is the analogy of a cup of coffee in a gallon pot. You pour the coffee into the jar, and it is dark brown. The coffee becomes more translucent by adding clear water, little by little. With enough space and time, the evidence of coffee will all but disappear.

The clear water is analogous to activity and association. I hate to say it; birds of a feather flock together. Who are we hanging around, and what are we doing?

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Imposter Syndrome

Don’t be fooled. You bring more to the table than you might think. Some of the most talented and able artists I know have these feelings of inadequacy.

It’s amazing. How can this person, with excellent skill, feel this way about themselves?

It comes down to self-talk. I have been there. Honestly, it still nags me a little. The challenge is to stop comparing ourselves to those we perceive as more talented. As an artist, we have our voice, the essence that makes us unique. Self-doubt inhabits the validity of our self-image.

Imposter syndrome haunts some of the most successful people you may know.

At attainment’s highest level, I know outstanding individuals who feel this way. Some of those folks use imposter syndrome as a motivator. The inadequacy drives them. The motivator is the insufficiency of self-belief.

I know this motivation well. The engine which drives me is a desire to achieve competence, believing I am not proficient enough.

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What are your friends telling you? Are they supportive? Are they being honest? None of the nose up your ass bullshit. It is super important that your friends are supportive and forthright.

I trust my friends, and I love them; our friendships go back for years. I am fortunate we have myriads of bands and projects under our belts. What we don’t do is lie to each other. We judge each other’s strengths and shortcomings without the influence of ego.

In relationships, this is critical. The purpose of our friendships is to build up one another; Iron sharpens iron, as the adage goes. We purpose to be there for each other, supportive when weakness prevails. When strength rules, we all succeed.

We all need our friends. Tearing each other down does nothing to strengthen relationships. Nor to building each other up


All I have to do is pull my head out and take a look around. There is much to appreciate. How about the simple fact that I woke up on this side of green today. That’s pretty basic.

I’m pretty sure all of us know someone going through some sort of health challenge. For me, so far so good, knock on wood.

The older I become, the more it surrounds me. Life and death situations abound. Some of my friends and acquaintances are on the cusp. As much as I want to whine, it’s a good idea to step back and acknowledge some people have it a lot tougher.

There are friends very close to me, suffering. I mean suffering, real pain. Loss of bodily functions. Close to death experiences. There is no sugar coating any of it.

Today is a good day. Thank you.

I’m not missing many meals; I got that going for me. I average a hundred miles a week on my bicycle in the summer. My skills are increasing daily. My olfactory is pretty tuned in. That’s good; very important for a sommelier.

Let’s not forget; I’m not living on the street.

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I try to surround myself with as many inspiring people as possible. Right now, as I write, I am listening to Lizst.

I’m a drummer; I’m still learning music theory. That’s why I hang out with people smarter than me.

Franz Joseph Liszt – talk about inspiring. Virtuoso pianist, composer, music teacher, conductor, organist, and a Franciscan Tertiary. Talk about a guy whose discipline was a lifestyle. Woof!!!

A couple of days ago, I put on Moon Flower by Antonio Carlos Jobim. And Miles, Birth of Cool. I am never going to be one of these guys. But I can be the best that I am going to be. I can live with that.

Realize this – Don’t be the best, be the only!


We want to understand the world around us. It is an essential foundation of our survival instinct. As hunter/gatherers, there was a lot of uncertainty. There had to be reasons why one person would survive, why another did not. To this day, we need explanations for why things happen. If it’s not evident, then we create a story to move on. The answer may not be accurate, but at least we can understand.

Known as a narrative fallacy, cause and effect details, whether actual or made up, help us negotiate life. The world is a random place, and we want to make sense of it. An unpredictable future is not a comfort.

Belief in presumptive assertions has roots in uncertainty. As time goes on, the narrative becomes established, becoming part of our truth. It becomes hard to see around it.

I’m guilty. I am working on it.

Can we help you?

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