We are defined by what we constantly talk about

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

As I’ve said many times, including on here, on social media and while speaking at conferences: Authentic stories are first lived, then told.

But there’s also another way to think about our own authentic stories: We are defined by what we constantly talk about.

This includes specific topics or tones of things we say.

Specific topics

If we keep harping on specific topics over and over and over, we likely will live right along the lines of what we are saying. Sometimes we may not even know we are hurting ourselves or would consider it “harping.” Take a look at this picture of me a few years ago.


Gross! That’s my grandmother with me, by the way. So that was a few years ago and as you can see I was quite fat. In case you forgot what I look like now, here’s a recent photo. 🙂


But back then, I constantly ate and I constantly told myself how hungry I was and how I needed to eat more to have more energy – mostly to eat more as it turns out. And of course, it didn’t help that eating is often a social activity. “Hey, let’s go have a 2,000 meal to show each other how much we like each other.” Anyway, talking about how much I love food – all the time – defined my story. I still love food, but things are a bit more under control now. And today, I tell myself how disciplined I am now about going to the gym in the mornings, counting calories, etc. etc.

And now that’s my story.

The tone

Sometimes it might not even be something super specific that we say out loud. Sometimes it might just be the tone of what we say: So if how we interact with people is always grumpy – especially when there isn’t really a reason to be grumpy and when is there really, we are in danger of starting to live a grumpy story. Plus, people might play back that grumpy tone in their communications with that person. And so continues that spiral of crappy tones.

It’s easy to see that it’s more of a circle of experiences versus a linear process of living stories, then telling them. The pieces interact. We are what we say constantly and we also can share our stories after living them. They go hand in hand.

We can control all aspects – even if not always perfectly, we can control pieces of them. We are all in charge of our attitudes.

So, the key is that we want to live authentically, but that also includes using the right tone of self and public talk as we are living our stories. It will define parts of our stories.