How To Focus And Move Past Your Destructive Or Distracting Inner Narratives

Darrah Brustein
2 min readFeb 22
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I love a good story, don’t you? But what about the stories we tell ourselves? Have you ever paused to consider how those stories are impacting you?

Here’s an unflattering example of a narrative I created that went like this: “Darrah: You’re not cutting it with this client. You should reach out, offer her an out to end the engagement early, and refund her in full.” Even though said client had never given me any reason to believe this, I allowed a moment of self-doubt to override better judgment and believed this story.

Then this email showed up:

“I want to sincerely thank you for your time today. I really appreciated our conversation and coaching session. You have a unique and amazing gift! I’m so glad we are working together. As a side note: the pitch meeting this afternoon went really well. I let the team shine and they did their thing. I’ll be surprised if we don’t return the contract at a higher price in 2023. Thank you for your advice on this.”

Lesson: thoughts aren’t facts.

In fact, the average person has an estimated 70,000 thoughts per day. The more you pay attention to them, the more you’ll notice how many conflict with one another and/or with what’s actually transpiring. Imagine what would happen if you were to give weight to all of them.

Here’s one thing that I do to help discern which to believe and which to let pass: I pause and ask myself, “Do I know this to be absolutely true? If so, how?”

In the case of this example, my reply would have been (if I weren’t allowing my doubt-driven thoughts to take hold): “No, I don’t know this to be absolutely true. The evidence doesn’t support that.”

This is lesson 2: don’t move faster than you can feel.

The type-a, efficiency lover in me might have taken action and attempted to end the engagement before I slowed down to see that that thought wasn’t a fact.

Slow down. Experience how your body feels: is it tense and constricted? Or open and relaxed? Ask yourself if you know the thought to be absolutely true or not. If you’re unsure, consider alternatives and/or keep proceeding as usual until you have better evidence.

Your time is precious. Don’t allow stray thoughts to hijack you. And, when you inevitably do, repeat this quick process.


What stories are you telling yourself?

Are they helping or hampering you as you move toward your personal definition of success?

If the latter, how do you plan to reorient your relationship to that/those story(ies)?

Darrah Brustein

On a mission to debunk "sleep when you're dead" culture + chasing others people's definitions of success to build a life of your own design.