I invite you to tune in. Pay attention to your thoughts, and the stories streaming through your mind. We are all storytellers. We naturally have the ability and the imagination to string a wild and exciting tale together bit by bit, event by event. We have the ability to captivate and light the spark of imagination in others as we weave our words into stories. With this ability, this natural, ingrained skill, we can also create stories that don't serve us, and might even hurt us.
When you notice someone looking at you, do you tell yourself a story about what they're thinking? When your partner leaves the house without kissing you goodbye, do you immediately think that they must be upset with you? When someone punctuates an email a little too sternly, do you draw conclusions about what their 'curt tone' must mean? We all make things up, and often become convinced of their certainty. A text message that was too short. An eyebrow raise. A sigh.
The truth is, you have no idea what someone else is thinking. Yes, body language can give you some clues. Yes, you might know someone well enough to understand what their pauses or nervous smiles mean. The truth is, even these patterns we come to know in loved ones, can be misread and misinterpreted. I invite you to examine some of the stories you tell yourself on a daily basis. Are you sure that the guy in traffic cut you off intentionally? Are you certain that the woman in the bank intended to be rude to you by not thanking you when you opened the door for her?
Notice the quick stories you come up with. We are truly brilliant creators. We can come up with a story in a split second and be so convinced of it, that we will ruin our entire day, or even allow our conviction of a story to destroy a friendship or a relationship.
Where can you suspend certainty? Gather all of the facts before making a judgement. Clarify.
In the book 'Rising Strong', author Brene Brown asks " Do you believe that people are truly doing the best they can?"
What if you approached the world, sincerely believing that everyone was genuinely doing the best they could, with the resources, knowledge and ability they had available to them? How would your stories change? How would your days be different.
If you approached life from a place of believing that we all make mistakes, we are all growing and developing, yet, we are all sincerely doing our best, how would you see your day to day interactions?
Notice how the stories soften. The anger loses its edge. The frustration loses its sharpness.
When we clutch onto stories of how someone has wronged us, what someone must be thinking negatively about us, or what that person really meant by that statement, it can often cause anxiety and negative feelings. These are completely unnecessary feelings. You are dunking yourself into dirty water. Get out. Shower off. You don't need to be there!
One of my favourite humans, my best friend, poses the simple question:
"What is this really about?".
When you notice yourself getting caught up in a story, ask yourself this simple question. You might be surprised by the answer. Can you identify any of your own personal 'stuff' coming up? i.e. Insecurities, old patterns, unhelpful coping mechanisms. Write them down, get them out in the open and be honest with yourself about what is being triggered within you.
If you absolutely must tell yourself stories, maybe you need to become an author and write some things out (change names if necessary), but truly, writing it out might just be the creative outlet you need.
Here's the the way I see it, we all have our own 'stuff'. The insecurities, the gremlins, the lies we've held onto about what someone else thought of us. When it comes down to the core of who you are, are these things genuinely important to you? Are you really willing to invest time and energy thinking about these stories? Is it worth it?
If you can clear things up with someone, and get all the real information out on the table, I highly recommend this option. It's such a shame when businesses, friendships, or relationships are damaged or destroyed because of foolish pride and unwillingness to have uncomfortable conversations to clear up confusions.
Have the hard conversation. Just do it.
If a story pops up, ask yourself, "Is this serving me?".
If it's not, know that it is your conscious decision to feed into that story, or to drop it.
Be a brilliant storyteller, write, create, speak poetry and use your imagination in positive ways. You have the power and the choice to question the thoughts that pop into your mind. Just because it's there does not mean that it's true.
If you do not know for sure, you are creating a story. Question your thoughts, and direct them to be more positive, more compassionate, to yourself and to others. You have power to control your thoughts. It's up to you.
Now, how will you see the world differently?
I'd love to hear from you. What are some common stories that you tell yourself? Have you been able to change those stories and thought patterns?
How did your life change?