+1 (208) 254-6996 essayswallet@gmail.com

Why We Tell Clever Stories

They match reality. Sometimes the stories we tell are accurate.

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Why We Tell Clever Stories They match reality. Sometimes the stories we tell are accurate.
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay

The other person is trying to cause us harm, we are innocent vic­

tims, or maybe we really can’t do much about the problem. It can

happen. It’s not common, but it can happen.

They get us off the hook. More often than not, our conclusions

transform from reasonable explanations to clever stories when

they conveniently excuse us from any responsibility-when, in

reality, we have been partially responsible. The other person isn’t

bad and wrong, and we aren’t right and good. The truth lies

somewhere in the middle. However, if we can make others out

as wrong and ourselves out as right, we’re off the hook. Better

yet, once we’ve demonized others, we can even insult and abuse

them if we want.

Clever stories keep us from acknowledging our own sellouts.

By now it should be clear that clever stories cause us problems.

A reasonable question at this point is, “If they’re so terribly hurt­

ful , why do we ever tell clever stories?”

Our need to tell clever stories often starts with our own sellouts.

l ,ike i t or not, we usually don’t begin telling stories that justify our

ad ions unti l we have done something that we feel a need to




justify. 1

We sell out when we consciously act against our own sense of

what’s right. And after we’ve sold out, we have only two choices:

own up to our sellout, or try to justify it. And if we don’t admit

to our errors, we inevitably look for ways to justify them. That’s

when we begin to tell clever stories.

Let’s look at an example of a sellout: You’re driving in heavy

traffic. You begin to pass cars that are attempting to merge into

your lane. A car very near you has accelerated and is entering your

lane. A thought strikes you that you should let him in. It’s the nice

thing to do, and you’d want someone to let you in. But you don’t.

You accelerate forward and close the gap. What happens next?

You begin to have thoughts like these: “He can’t just crowd in on

me. What a jerk! I’ve been fighting this traffic a long time. Besides,

I’ve got an important appointment to get to.” And so on.

This story makes you the innocent victim and the other per­

son the nasty villain. Under the influence of this story you now

feel justified in not doing what you originally thought you should

have done . You also ignore what you would think of others who

did the same thing-“That jerk didn’t let me in! ”

Consider an example more related to crucial conversations.

Your spouse has an annoying habit. It’s not a big deal, but you

feel you should mention it. But you don’t . Instead, you just huff

or roll your eyes, hoping that will send the message. Unfortun­

ately, your spouse doesn’t pick up the hint and continues the habit.

Your annoyance turns to resentment. You feel disgusted that your

spouse is so thick that he or she can’t pick up an obvious hint. And

besides, you shouldn’t have to mention this anyway-any reason­

able person should notice this on his or her own! Do you have to

point out everything? From this point forward you begin to make

insulting wisecracks about the issue until it escalates into an ugly


Notice the order of the events in both of these examples. What




came first, the story or the sellout? Did you convince yourself of

the other driver’s selfishness and then not let him in? Of course

not. You had no reason to think he was selfish until you needed

an excuse for your own selfish behavior. You didn’t start telling

clever stories until after you failed to do something you knew you

should have done. Your spouse’s annoying habit didn’t become a

source of resentment until you became part of the problem. You

got upset because you sold out. And the clever story helped you

feel good about being rude.

Sellouts are often not big events. In fact, they can be so small

that they’re easy for us to overlook when we’re crafting our

clever stories. Here are some common ones:

Order your essay today and save 10% with the discount code ESSAYHELP