The Stories We Tell Ourselves


In this psychology video, I share concrete strategies for transforming painful emotional experiences using a model of cognitive psychology.

What’s real? What’s distorted?

An A-B-C Formula for reality testing that is especially helpful during outer circumstances beyond a person’s control.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo ABC Technique

A-B-C House Flood Scenario

The scenario I describe in the video and article is of a friend who experienced a house flood in their newly constructed home and the subsequent impact it had on his thoughts, emotions, and self-esteem.

I describe how with time and support, I witnessed my friend transform his suffering into a more meaningful and empowering experience.

An experience of yesterday’s pain becoming today’s strength, an evolution of thinking that we can all relate to.


  1. Reflect on times in your life when you have successfully overcome adversity.
  2. Talk to others who have overcome similar circumstances. Be open to their lessons.
  3. Ask five people to identify your strengths. Refer to them during low points in your day.
  4. Be proud of what you have been through and have faith in where you’re going.
Dr. Andrea Dinardo The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Additional Information and Resources 

32 thoughts on “The Stories We Tell Ourselves

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    1. Thank you Brad. The best part of your comment is knowing you’re not currently in any challenges. At this point in our lives – it’s our turn to help the next generation up the mountain. Turning obstacles into stepping stones. And weeds into flowers. (one & the same!) Grateful to hear from you. Wishing you a wonderful start to the week! Andrea

    1. Thanks Mitch! A life lesson and simple truth on repeat. We wear ourselves trying to change others. Only to wake up (daily) and remember that “we’ve had the power all along”. And it lives within.

  1. Great post with good tips! Sweet how during the video your emotions show compassion which is very important. I think more important than control, something we don’t have anyway. Parents basically tell us fairy tales with the hope we will all become successful. Or to be in control like you say. We need to learn to control control. I hope your friend will lift himself…and his house 😁

    1. You’re the best!

      I couldn’t help but choke up and show emotion when I shared the real-life story of my friend in the psychology video .

      The fascinating part is evolution wise, we are built to connect (through OXYTOCIN) in tough times. And how it’s not the stress that kills us — it’s our perception of stress.

      Dr. Kelly McGonigal discusses the health psychology research behind compassion and stress perception in one of my favourite TED Talks:

      How to make stress your friend | Dr. Kelly McGonigal

      Real-Life Story — Update

      I can also share that my friend is doing much MUCH better now! His stress has turned into his strength. And the pandemic gave him, and everyone we know – perspective. Material things are replaceable. People are not.

      Thank you for taking the time to watch, read, and comment.

      Have a fabulous rest of the week!


      1. Thank you for sharing the video. It was interesting.

        Actually, I was thinking: the prevention of stress, rather than dealing with it after, might need more focus. We live in a stressful world cause we want everything and we want it now. Perhaps we need to change that mindset. We need love, laughter and compassion!
        Anyway, that’s my philosophy…

        Happy to hear your friend is doing better. Did he decide to turn his basement into a swimming pool? Sorry couldn’t help it 😂

        On a more serious note: he is blessed with a friend like you! Knowledgable and helpful!

        Have a great week Andrea!

  2. My pleasure Annette! We are so wonderfully human, aren’t we. I write not only from research – but from experience. As you do too! The creative act has the incredible way of transmuting our pain into power. Including rumination. It’s one of the reasons I began this blog and TEDx talk (both called Thriving Under Pressure) in the first place. Listening to my students’ stress escalate over the years had me searching for a higher PLACE. Writing, sharing, and caring helps us all.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Hope you have a chance to watch the video too. I go much deeper into the topic of “The Stories We Tell Ourselves” using the blackboard. (My fav teaching tool). Wishing you momentary challenges that lead to LASTING opportunities. We can’t escape the pain. That’s part of life. What we can do is help each other RISE LIKE AIR

  3. Aaaah, the never-ceasing battle of my mind! The ego vs. the authentic me. I learned a while ago – I’m in it for the long haul. Better, I said, to just agree with everything I face and have no opinion on the matter. And guess what? I sleep better – and that’s not all; I wake up better too. 🙂 Dr. Andrea, you are a gem. Your students and friends are hugely blessed to know someone like you.

    1. Yo are an absolute gem too Peter!

      A diamond 💎

      And there is no doubt that your wisdom comes from the pressure that makes diamonds.

      A true testimony to the wisdom of allowing ‘what will be, will be’ and trusting that the sparks that remain standing — are the ones that lead to authenticity, in ourselves and the world around us.

      Grateful for your encouragement Peter. I take nothing for granted. Your words especially. They fuel my teachings. Today, and always.

      🙏 📖

  4. I think I’ve watched this video before, but I was in a different space. As usual, this is now right on time. I’ve been reading a lot about re-framing experiences, which is what I think you’re saying, and also listening to podcasts about the importance of mindset. Thanks for this concrete story, Dr. D ❤

    1. You have a great memory Dr. G! I shared the video a few years ago on IG and on YouTube. And you are bang on when it comes to REFRAMING.

      I talk about a personal story of reframing in this 1 min video: which I know you can relate to being an online professor, long before covid. And how being pushed into the online arena due to something beyond my control (pre-covid) led to the opportunity to be much more chill during the pandemic (stress + preparation = opportunity) reminds me that what looks like stress TODAY is tomorrow’s new pathway.

      Thank you for taking the time to visit! Seeing you here, always makes me smile! We’re the OG sorority sisters of WordPress after all. 👯💜

  5. Thanks, Andrea, for these insights. We aren’t in control of life–it happens! How do we so easily forget that? But I love your focus on our ability to choose how we look at a situation. Our attitudes are the only things we have complete control over. I’m glad your friends are doing better. Disappointment is always going to be part of living, but it’s not fatal. it’s an opportunity to grow! This was excellent!

  6. It has been my own experience in overcoming difficulties through emotional upheaval that it does challenge us to finding solutions or by changing our perspective and attitudes towards how we perceive them,. which then enables us to grow through our experience.
    I know this from my own personal experiences…. We can either sit and wallow, or change our attitude and circumstances around such events and beliefs we tell ourselves..

    Great post Andrea, and love it when we find similar themes on the stories of our lives.. 🙂
    Much love ❤

  7. Another brilliant advice, Dr. D. Transforming painful experiences is no easy task but your tips are great source of reference. I especially like the points on changing the story as well as identifying own strengths or asking people to.

    1. Khaya, thank you for taking the time to share your reflections on this post.

      I am currently doing resiliency training for tech entrepreneurs through this organization and the number one takeaway my clients are sharing with the head of this organization from our coaching — is your takeaway from this post. “Dr. D makes people feel like that can do anything!”

      This information (new to me this month) combined with your reflections, reminds me that we all need to be reminded of our unique strength fingerprint. Yours being — your deep rooted imagination and presences, which shines through in your poetry.

      Grateful Kathy Garland (unknowingly) introduced me to you! Shine on my friend. SHINE ON 💕 ✨ Dr. D

      1. I feel I am refraining everyday on all things, big or small. Without going deeply into my current circumstances. The refraining is to accept the mess, to be content with nothing going right, trusting that reason things aren’t working out is because I am not focusing on the right things. To be easy and open in the pain and just keep listening. With patience time will reveal what needs to happen. Until then be content, still, patience, and build a bank balance of peace.

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