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  • Writer's pictureErika Bugbee, M.A.

Stress and the Imagination: When Being a Good Storyteller is Not Something to Brag About

One of the best parts of my job is getting to hear embarrassing stories my colleagues share

about themselves.

Years back I co-taught a class with the owner of a huge wealth management company

named Doug.

Doug was kind of a big deal in the wealth management world, and the whole class was

about not letting your ego ruin your closeness with your family.

He opened with a story about how he was driving to lunch, got abruptly cut off by another car that immediately slowed down in front of him just to provoke and toy with him. He spent

several minutes driving aggressively close to the car and worked himself into a rage.

When Doug was finally able to pass the car he rolled his window down to shout something

nasty. And realized it was his 86 year old mother he was meeting for lunch.

This story perfectly demonstrates how good we are at creating a story out of thin air,

reacting to it, and living in the upset.

The stories are just thrown together in the moment by repurposing memories, thoughts from

the past, and expectations (which are just more thoughts from the past).

So they’re not real, but because of the principles behind human experience, our stories look

and feel just as real as what’s actually happening in life.

We’re not always lucky enough to be humbled by the discovery that a story was made up.

But Doug shared his story and I’m sharing client stories today so that you can get more

open to the idea that maybe a HUGE number of the stories your imagination churns

out are made up.

Or at least massively biased and contaminated.

It’s right there to see if you slow down and look. It requires humility and genuine openness.

But the result is that you get to feel closer to people, you become lighter and more

buoyant, and you take yourself and your life less seriously.

That’s what today’s interview is about.

It features a 15 year old gang member with a mohawk and hand tattoos that woke up to his

own stories about life that he’d been carrying around. And how much he changed from

seeing just one of those stories unravel.

So I’m pointing to something powerful that anyone can see.

Click below to watch.

Today's interview was hosted by my colleague Marie Arymar. To learn more about Marie's work, click here.

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