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Challenging the Narrative… The stories we tell ourselves.

I’m telling myself that I’m not cut out for this, that this is how it will always be, that I’m stuck. The people close to me see the inadequate mom. I’m telling myself that I should be better. 

In a new and challenging season of parenting, I’ve started catching a few thoughts. These thoughts, I’m realizing, are telling a story. 

The story I’m telling myself is a hard one. In this narrative, I am inadequate; I shouldn’t be struggling so much, given everything I know about my daughter’s disability, and those who are close to me can see that I am not enough. 

Of course, my mind is creating these stories. Our brains are desperate to make sense of confusion. Brené Brown says, “Storytelling helps us all impose order on chaos—including emotional chaos. When we're in pain, we create a narrative to help us make sense of it”.

What happens when we send an even slightly vulnerable text and are left waiting, waiting, waiting for a reply? What happens when we catch a brief yet intense interaction between strangers? Without consciously trying, our brains immediately fill in the gaps. 

So, the story I’m telling myself is that I should be better right now. And it’s a familiar one, isn’t it? As a teacher, it was the same. I struggled to believe that what I had to offer was enough. I came into the profession expecting it to be hard, so when I grappled with the thought, “I can’t keep doing this,” so early in my career, I thought the problem must be me. The endless demands, value conflicts, intensification, and lack of belonging took its toll quite fast. In those years, my brain did what it needed to make sense of the confusion I felt. It made a story.

This is a story I have come back to, in some way, across seasons: I am struggling, so I must not be enough. 

But what’s the genre here? 

I didn’t ask myself this question for a long time. I simply believed the stories to be true - nonfiction. But could it be that my brain generated details to fill in the gaps in this first attempt to make sense of the pain? Could the genre be more fiction than not? Brené says yes. When information and facts are lacking, our brains are quick to offer ideas, and we are quick to accept them. Certainty feels safe.  

But if it is a made-up story anyway, could I change it?

The story I would want to tell myself right now is that parenting a child with a disability is hard. I am new to this, so I am finding my way. I have never done this before, so of course I am confused. Because of my own experiences, this is challenging for me in ways that might not be for my husband or another parent. And that makes sense. I am seeking help, and that is a courageous act. In a world that elevates the hustle, acknowledging and honoring my capacity is also courageous. I want to believe that those who see me struggle are close enough to see it, because they’re here to help hold me up. The story I want to tell myself is that I am struggling, but I am strong; I am healing, and I am growing.

What about you? What are the stories you tell yourself these days?

Teaching can be a battleground of sorts. It’s a profession that often attracts high achievers, perfectionists, and bleeding hearts. It’s also part of a system in desperate need of reformation. 

Would you consider the stories you believe right now? 

…if I am not perfect, I won’t be accepted. 

…that when someone looks into my classroom, they look for what I am doing wrong.

…something is wrong with me for struggling this much.

What if challenging the story is an act of resilience?

Citation: Brown, B. (2015, September). How to Reckon with Emotion and Change Your Narrative. Retrieved from


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