The Stories We Tell About Ourselves: How to Change a Life

| March 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

by Mrs. Freud

“Airport books,” also known as the self-help book industry, is one of the largest and most successful categories in this market. We probably all have one or several self-help books at home. We’ve purchased them with the intent to better our lives.

A few years ago I was at the “I Can Do It” Conference, the mecca for all “self-helpers” with lots of inspirational speakers. While I was standing and staring in awe at the big hall filled with books for sale, a volunteer next to me told me that she came to each one of these conferences and bought a bag full of books. When I asked if she had read them all, she answered, puzzled: “Not one! I guess I just love buying them.”

That illustrated the dilemma. We want to better our lives; we hear our inner desires; but we don´t want to read the book to accomplish our mission, let alone do the exercises and repeat them so that that they become our new life. What a shame. Therein truly lays the secret. It is not difficult or complicated. All it takes is a little awareness: making a decision, some planning and then actually following through by implementing the steps to improve our lives.

I am extremely fascinated with anything that has to do with habit changes and conscious life designs. It is true that often we have a “story” that is keeping us from living our dreams. If you wonder what the story is that you identify with, pay attention to what you tell a stranger about yourself within the first 15 minutes after introduction. What you share is what you perceive about yourself. Often I hear a victim story.

I remember being at a casual gathering. After an introduction, a young man in a wheel chair told me that his parents only fed him junk food and thus ruined his whole life, and he could not hold down a job. Ironically, he was eating a pizza while telling his story. I would have thought that being in a wheel chair might be his story, but that shows how individual our stories are, and how they become reality.

Then I remember meeting a fellow psychology student in college (also in a wheel chair). He talked to me enthusiastically about how fascinating the theories of psychology were to him. Today he is somewhat of a celebrity psychologist, with a fantastic office in Vienna, a sweet wife and several children. His story explains the person that he intended to be.

What is your story? How does one decide which self-help guru or book or theory will have the power to bring about desired changes in his/her life? I found that with the abundance of options it is important to notice what we feel drawn towards. What fascinates and beckons us? Next, we need to make a commitment and give it time to do “its magic.” Stick with it for a while. Also, implement only one or two little routines, changes or exercises over a period of time.

We can be much more successful by implementing little life additions, as opposed to the big make-overs. You are doomed to fail if you seek to abandon who you are today, and to completely exchange this for a totally new you. We can´t just leap away from an unhappy lifestyle. It takes a calm jumping off point, sort of like paragliding. It is life threatening to take off in heavy winds without good footing.

Well, nothing excites me more than mindfully implementing a new routine and then, after a while, realizing how much my life benefitted from the change. I feel a sense of accomplishment, peace and calm, as well as lots of endorphins and optimism for the future.

Author Sabine Starr is a psychologist licensed in Vienna, Austria, currently living and working in Mission Hills. She has written numerous articles for professional psychology journals. For further information, visit and follow her blog at; and a new social media offering is

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