What We Tell Ourselves Is Important

A couple weeks ago I had dessert with some friends that own units in my condo building. During the discussion, partially focusing on how bad the surrounding area was, a number was thrown out: there had been four murders in the new apartment building near ours this year. Yes, four.

Facts aside, this was the story that was being told. No idea where it came from, but it was out there. (Admittedly, the neighborhood is rough. But, use the research tools on https://data.seattle.gov and you’ll see it’s simply not true.) I suspect this “fact” of recent murders in the neighborhood offered us reasons for our falling property values or propped us up as the beacon of safety and lawfulness in the area.

Either way, it made me realize that the stories we tell ourselves (and others) are vitally important. Some of my neighbors had convinced themselves of this stat. As we all do with different challenges and obstacles in our lives.

“I’m too short.”

“I’m the wrong ethnicity.”

“I’m fat and the other kids make fun of me.”

Well, I was born without arms. But, I am also fiercely independent and I rarely let circumstances influence what I tell myself I can or cannot do. Generally, I just assume I’ll be able to figure out how to get past a physical challenge.

I’m stubborn, strong-willed and if you tell me I can’t do something, you can bet that I won’t give up until I figure out how.

Now, I’m not talking about ignoring reality. I’d have never made it as an NBA player. And, I cannot lift the hood of my car. All of us have limitations — let’s be honest.

However, you’ll be far better suited with a positive attitude when you approach obstacles. Assuming that you’ll figure out a solution to a problem instead of entering the arena defeated.

My parents frequently read The Little Engine That Could to me when I was growing up and I bet it was so I learned to say, “I think I can. I think I can.”

Tell yourself that you can today.

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1 Response to "What We Tell Ourselves Is Important"

  1. Greg,
    I spoke with you after church at UPC earlier today. The Movie that had the words, “This is my story” was: Ten Canoes. It is in the Seattle Public Library and is an Aboriginal film from Australia. I don’t know if you would find it interesting or not. But you talking about one’s story brought this movie to mind.

    SUMMARY OF MOVIE (“Ten Canoes”):
    Man who lost 2 wives: He became quiet, angry and sad.

    (He speared a man he suspected of being responsible for one of his wives being missing.)

    We hope they don’t find him. If they do, deny everything.

    [Other tribe who knew that the spear that killed their tribesman came from a particular individual to whom they had traded the spear head. They got to throw repeated spears at this individual – per their Law.]

    We have the Law. Justice was done.

    Man who lost 2 wives was speared – initially survived, but soon thereafter died, after doing his own death dance.

    [One of the missing wives found her way back, after her husband had died. She had been taken off by some other tribe, not the man who was initially suspected.]

    Old tribal leader/Elder (to warriors who wanted to avenge their tribesman’s death): Forget it. This is where we stop.

    Narrator at end of movie:
    Now you’ve seen my story. Not like your story. But a good story all the same.


    I don’t know if you have an interest in having lunch sometime. It crossed my mind that you might have a useful perspective to the tribulations I have been dealing with in my life (with a neighbor who has been provoking me for many years). Whether I might have any useful thoughts for you, I do not know. I can see that you have had a heavy burden which you have dealt with admirably.

    Sincerely yours,

    Phil Plattner

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