Book: Reflections

Reflections - bringing attention to your daily life by Désirée Steinmann

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Reflections of the Week

How Un-Storytelling can change your life - Speech for the AWE Summit Zürich 2014 by Désirée Steinmann

2014-10-07 16:25 (comments: 0)


We are spending the next 18 Minutes with storytelling. I will tell you lots of little real life stories to make my point hopefully very clear and you will get 3 core messages to take home. My goal is that you leave this room empowered to be the best story teller or UN-story teller you can be!

Who of you believes you are a good story teller? (Show of hands) Great! For those who raised their hand, I would love to hear some of your stories, when we have time to network later!

For you who have not raised your hand I would say … Think again! You are good story tellers! You do it all the time!  The question is rather are you telling good or bad stories!

Lets take this moment as an example. Looking around I see many faces looking at me right now with very little emotional expression. That’s a fact and it is neither good or bad. Now my mind tries to make sense of this situation by creating thoughts in my mind and these thoughts come in form of a story. 

I could think … they don't like what I say, they are not interested otherwise they would be nodding or smiling - that will trigger my emotions, it will make me feel nervous unimportant and unhappy. A full firework or negative emotions are firing off and all of this in not longer then a split second. Now my thinking and my emotions will guide me to react to this situation. How do you think I will react when I think you don't like me or what I say?

I will feel inferior, unable, sad, unloved, nervous, will not be able to connect with you, will not be passionate and engaged, I will not give a captivating speech because I am so busy with my negative emotions  -   I will create this very experience I am fearing or telling myself about. This is also called selffulfilling prophecy.

Or I could tell myself, they are following my talk attentatively, they are concentrated and think about what I am saying. That will create positive emotions in me. I create a 

positive story in my head about how you are concentrated, listening and thinking about what I say, I will feel inspired, engaged and motivated to connect more and give you more of what I can give. Even if I might have been nervous at the beginning, the passion and positive energy will create a much better situation for all of us, right?

So, let's look at the formula again and identify where the sweet spot lies, that can change everything.

F - T + E - R - O (Feelings - Thoughts + Emotions - Reaction - Outcome)

The sweet spot lies between Facts and thoughts, in lies in the choice. You always have the choice in the split second between the F + the T to focus on the positive or the negative. 

It's in your hands to change your life! And this is how!

The first of my 3 core messages I wish for you to take home is

"Choose your story"!

Choose possibility instead of problem

Choose gratitude instead of fear

Choose connection instead of rejection

... and choose them in both directions - inwards and outwards, towards yourself and others.

Where this came in handy was a situation with a former boss of mine. When he got under stress, he became unfriendly and sometimes event attacked people around him. As a trained lifesaver I have learned not to swim to people who are drowning too closely as they are often just trying to get a hold of you to push themselves up even though, they push you down and now both are at risk to die. “Don’t make their fear, your fear!” When people are too stressed, fearful, angry or otherwise in distress, keep a safe distance. Sometimes you wait for the swimmer to become unconscious before you get close, to make sure you can save them without putting yourself in danger. This Life saver lesson helped me while interacting with my former boss. I chose to let the wave of distress pass by me without taking anything personal (I kept a safe distance – that was my story) until he was ready to deal with it in a more normal way.

You might ask now: "How do I know if I make good or bad choices or if I tell myself good or bad stories? " that is easy to answser. You will know if you tell yourself good or bad stories by the way you are feeling. In the example with my former boss I did not feel upset at all, as I told myself that his reaction had nothing to do with me and I did not believe that I needed to do anything as long as he was in this bad pattern. I could have also told myself the story about how terrible he is behaving towards me or that he should not react this way at all. Guess how that would have made me feel?

Let's take it a step further. What enables me to make good choices? The best navigation point to make good choices is to know my intention. To be able to see my intention honestly I need to be present and not caught up in the story. What do I want to achieve with my story, what outcome do I wish to create? If I would have taken the bad temper of my boss personally, I would have probably wanted revenge or an apology. (this often unconsciously). If my intention is to stay respectful (again in all directions, towards me and my needs and towards him and his situation) and keep the ownership of my actions, I will see the solution much easier, which was “to stay out of his way.”

That is the difference between DRAMA VS. HAPPINSS or PEACE.

I feel Drama when I feel anger, stress, resentment, fear, victemhood or frustration.

I feel peace or happiness, when I feel in charge, connection, contribution, present, authentic


NOW, It's not only me that puts stories into my head. Many people did so in my past and still do so today and often we don’t even recognize it right away. Let’s look at some examples.

I went to a party and my friend Marjan said: you have to meet my cousin, she is so much like you, you will get along with her so well! My subconcious mind is already prepared to be open and welcoming, much less reserved and chances are we will start on a much more accepting note. At another event my old classmate warned me about a lady, who always tries to draw all the attention towards herself at every event. She is so ego-centric; it is totally off-putting he said.  At the first story this lady is sharing, and getting lots of attention, I caught myself to judge her before I got to know her, I was ready to confirm my friends observation and keeping my distance, then recognized my preconception and I changed my intention to get to know her- she seemed so humgry for attention, she might not get enough in her life, but she was so entertaining, that I just joined her show and I happily gave her attention and enjoyed her company. We became good friends J

Here is another important lesson to learn – your story is not my story! This attention seeking lady was totally off-putting for my old classmate, yet very entertaining for me. We can experience the same situation yet we might have totally different views on what we experience. There is not one reality; there is only your reality and my reality! let me repeat that: There is not one reality; there is only your reality and my reality!         Understanding this fully, and that means being aware of it as often as possible in all interaction with people, has enabled me to be in conflict situations without insisting on my story or my perception of reality and allowed me to be more open and curious to other peoples reality and story. Again, when you are open and understand, then you can influence the situation much better or at least not follow into the drama of other peoples stories.


Then there are old and hidden stories! Stories from the past that often linger with us undetected for years or sometimes a lifetime. They affect how we see the world and how we behave.

Who of you grew up with the princess stories? Who was hoping to find prince charming one day? Who is still looking for prince charming or the knight in shining armor today?

Well, let me share with you how I found the love of my life and he is not prince charming the way I envisioned! Here I was dating, and dating again and dating again and I could not find HIM .. my prince charming. I was looking for perfection and of course no one is perfect, including me! It was painful! Reality did not match with the story in my head. No one was good enough, it caused me to expect and judge instead of falling in love. On top of it, I also felt bad about myself as I certainly also did not live up to the ideal of the princess, neither in looks, brains and certainly also not in financial means … that meant lots of pain and loneliness even when I was in a relationship. When the pain is strong enough we rethink and learn! I dropped the princess story and changed my intention. My new story was to find someone who is reliable, fun, trustworthy and strong enough to deal with me. Someone I can be eye to eye with and yet still admire him, just as he admires me for who I am. I changed my intention and my story and with that we come to the second core message for you!

"Use your story!"

By telling yourself the story that is empowering, motivating and guiding you to the desired outcome, you are taking ownership and control over your amazing brainpower and emotional capacity. Don’t give this power to others and their story, choose your story and become the creator of your life by using your story! To become a master of this you need to become an observer of your emotions state – are you happy, full of life and peaceful or do you live a drama, full of bad emotions, fear and anger or resentment? Then you want to understand the story you are telling yourself or others put onto you, get clear on your intention for what you want to create and then choose your story and use your story until your life reflects your story. Who of you have worked with Mantras or positive visualizations? These are powerful ways to use your story. The better you get at it, the more you are creating your future pro-actively. Your brain will point out to all the possibilities as soon as it gets a clear picture or story as a guideline.

Before we get to the third core message, I would like to warn you! Once you get really good with choosing and using your story, you will want to teach this ability to everyone around you. It is so life altering, that you wish for all the people you care about, to also learn this. When I learned to be a “Positive-Storyteller” I was on a roll and I tried to change everybody around me who was in a bad situation or mood to teach this positive approach. “Have you ever been in a really negative state and someone came along energized and happy and said “look at the bright side of if” and you did not want to? So, choose your story and use your story wisely!

Let me ask you something: What would happen without a story?

Imagine, you are giving a talk and people look at you with little emotional reaction, yet you have no story. Imagine you see a person at a party drawing and needing all the attention, yet you have no story. Imagine your boss is acting unpleasant in a stressful situation, yet you have no story!

Stories always happen with a strong connection to the past or the future. Some time ago I gave a talk and it did not go so well. I did not like this experience and worry it might happen again. Or, If I allow my former boss to behave this way now, he will never respect me in the future.

Without a story, we become very present. No opinion or pain from the past and no fear for the future. No judgment, just open sensors. With open sensors, comes clarity, curiosity and often empathy. Without a story we are clear to see what is true in this moment and can act freely and honestly. By acting freely and honesty we are most authentic and real. We all have experienced people who were very present and clear. Their presence leaves a strong impression!

My 3 core messages for you are:

"Chose your story

use your story

or maybe even loose your story!"


How would your life change, if you would learn to act on these core messages?

How would your self-esteem strengthen?

How would your relationships improve?

How much more successful would you be?


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