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March 1, 2024

How the Relationship Stories We Tell Ourselves Determine Whether We Live in a Fairy Tale or a Greek Tragedy. ~ Laura K. Zegar

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“You always have a choice. You don’t have to live in a Greek tragedy. You get to have a fairy tale.”


My healer’s bombshell proclamation hung in the air, lingering between us like an inky black storm cloud, mysterious in its unknown path, yet deliciously seductive with its electric promise to light up the sky.

As a woman whose mother had passed down both a tragedy mindset and actual Greek genes to me, I was skeptical that this applied to me personally, but intrigue outweighed my doubt. I kept listening.

The stories we tell ourselves, she explained, create everything in our lives. How we feel, what we attract, and how events play out. They’re crucial to the love, joy, happiness, success, fulfillment, and abundance we call into our lives.

She had my full attention, her words reverberating through my body at full voltage as my mind temporarily exited The Iliad to absorb every last syllable.

After that day, she taught me everything she knew about how to use storytelling to question false beliefs and shift my reality. Later, as I began a deep dive into the underworld of subconscious reprogramming and attachment theory, I realized something fascinating.

It turns out storytelling is everywhere…once we know how to spot it.

Let’s take the stories that program our love lives, for example. They begin as our attachment style forms during childhood and solidify during our early relationships. They’re reinforced by repetition over brunch or trendy cocktails, analyzed on our therapist’s comfy couch, and shared vividly in the comments of YouTube relationship channels.

All that repetition can reinforce a fantastic love life if we’re focused on positive, fairy-tale-like stories. The problem is when we fixate on negative stories because they reflect our inner tragedy mindsets.

Some of our bestselling stories: (S)he’s just not that into me. I’m not attractive/wealthy/young/tall/[insert insecurity of your choice here] enough. I’m terrible at relationships and communication. This will never work out because [insert self-fulfilling prophecy of your choice here]. There are no good (wo)men out there.

We think we’re telling ourselves realistic, no-nullsh*t truth bombs. We believe we’re empowering ourselves by refusing to be vulnerable to fantasy because it could lead to heartbreak. We consume self-help books to decipher what’s wrong with us (or them). We bookmark stylishly curated Instagram posts urging us to block and delete anyone who dares falter at loving us perfectly because, hey, it always means they’re just not that into us, right?


As these stories cement into our mindsets, they become the dominant vibration we emit out into the world. As we focus on our lack of love, it expands. And, with the precision of a radio, the partners we attract are perfectly tuned into our frequency, because guess what? Their stories swipe right on our stories in an energetic meet (not so) cute.

Next thing we know, we’re reliving the same old relationship drama…that we adamantly swore off forever. Spoiler alert: The only word the universe heard us say was “drama” because that’s what we were focused on, so that’s what she sent us. Oops.

We attract yet another partner who uncannily channels our charming but distant dad’s emotional unavailability and vague promises before he freaks out at the first sign of commitment. Or our sweet but overbearing mom who pumps us on the reg about whether we’re dating anyone seriously because she really wants grandkids, like, now.

Inevitably, they flake, stall, criticize, cling, cheat, leave, or otherwise hurt us as our previous partners did. We feel abandoned, smothered, betrayed, unappreciated, or otherwise misunderstood. And, as our custom blend of relationship drama manifests for the umpteenth time, we use it as evidence to support our stories.

See?! This always happens, we unhappily lament to well-meaning, sympathetic ears who inadvertently reinforce our negative stories by agreeing with us and promising we’ll find someone better.

Or, as Carrie Bradshaw famously screamed at Mr. Big while pummeling him with her bridal bouquet in the middle of a Manhattan street after he briefly changed his mind about attending their Sex and the City wedding, “I knew you would do this! I knew it!’

It’s the stuff Greek tragedies are made of: Heartbreak, suffering, dysfunction, attachment trauma, and star-crossed love—either straight-up or with a modern twist of breadcrumbing, ghosting, accusations of narcissism, or social media blocking for maximum angst.

But if we suddenly find ourselves several chapters into a tragedy, we can always course correct back into a fairy tale by changing our stories.

Yes, something unfortunate may have objectively occurred (a fight, breakup, rejection, or anything behavior that upsets us), but observing the reality of those events isn’t where we go wrong. It’s the story we tell ourselves about what those events mean about us and our emotional reaction to the unworthiness and disempowerment wrapped up inside the story that creates our suffering.

We repeat our stories hundreds of times a day, consciously and (mostly) subconsciously. Words and thoughts, particularly those stating who we are (or aren’t) and what we can (or can’t) have, cast a powerful spell on our souls. Eventually, those spells become strong enough to effortlessly magnetize our stories into reality.

Clear statements made with strong emotions are one of the fastest ways to manifest. The wrong, unconscious stories cause us to miscreate in love because they make us feel bad. But here’s a plot twist: If a story makes us feel bad, it’s not the truth.

This is often the point where we resist the idea of changing our stories. Let go of our firm grasp on reality and get sucker punched in love yet again? Noooo, thank you, our egos say. It’s safer to remain grounded in the “truth” of our unworthiness instead of feeling like a delusional fool if we finally dare to open our stories (and our hearts) to love. We remember what happened last time desire, fantasy, longing, and optimism seduced and betrayed us.

Or do we?

We originally adopted our painful stories as protection in response to either real attachment trauma or beliefs absorbed from our family, peers, or environment. While they might have served us then, our younger minds resonated with and grabbed onto them because we didn’t have the information or emotional capacity to recognize them as flawed, false narratives.

Stories rooted in aligned truth will always feel like a breath of fresh air to our nervous system because our power and self-love remain intact even as we process an unexpected turn or end to our relationships.

The point of rewriting stories is not to spiritually bypass our feelings or dismiss our trauma, but rather to reset our frequency so our past becomes wisdom instead of history inevitably repeating itself in our future. Our ability to hold the frequency of a fairy tale mindset while processing our authentic emotion is the sweet spot to rendering suffering an unnecessary companion to our current circumstances.

The magic lies in relying on our internal world to shift until it inevitably creates our external world, not in lamenting our external world while we wait for it to change so we can feel better. We can decide at any point to break up with our Greek tragedy, date our fairy tale mindset passionately, and look for evidence to support that story until it becomes reality.

Cinderella knew how to fairy tale. Her stepsisters sabotaged her attempts to attend the royal ball by tearing apart her gown, only for her fairy godmother to materialize with a solution to her tears at the eleventh hour. She attended the ball and charmed the prince so hard that he immediately fell in love with her, launched a quest to find her with a glass slipper as his only clue after she escaped at midnight, rescued her from her cruel stepfamily, and married her.

Sure, she cried and felt defeated at several points, but none of that overpowered her belief in magic and the happily ever after she ultimately created.

And so can we.

It all comes down to this:

We don’t need to cling to our past because we think it will keep us safe from the future. We can commit to becoming better partners by healing our trauma and triggers without fixating on our flaws or allowing them to define us.

We can stop chasing after suffering and literally quit sleeping with the enemy blocking our love by breaking up with the narratives that keep us small.

We can either focus on what we lack in love or fill ourselves up with an abundance of love until we feel worthy enough to attract it.

We can take everything that happens to us in love personally…or we can accept that the universe always has a plan for us. If it’s meant for us, we can’t mess it up. If it’s not meant for us, we’ll be redirected for our highest good.

We can either keep telling ourselves the same old things about love and get the same old relationships, or we can tell ourselves something different and get a new kind of love.

We can decide we’re the person who lives in the fairy tale, not the person who lives in the Greek tragedy.

That’s what I decided, and I hope you do too.

Now let’s tell ourselves some stories that make Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White proud.

I’d love to hear yours.


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