What Story are You Telling Yourself?

In the last couple of weeks I experienced a few different situations and began to notice a pattern. Someone (me or somebody else) feels something, reacts to that feeling (under an assumption) and the situation escalates into an energy draining scenario.

One of these situations was with a group of people that I am relatively new to and don’t know that well. I am around this group a couple of times a week now and at a recent visit I got a weird vibe when I walked in the room. I was there for about an hour and things never felt quite right. I felt excluded from conversations and had this sense that people were talking about me behind my back. It was weird and the first time I’d felt that with them.  I left that place wondering, “Why don’t people there like me?” “What have I done wrong?” It really affected my energy for a couple of hours. I kept replaying the whole scene, my interactions, critiquing myself, analyzing the other people. I got tired of playing that tape in my mind over and over.  I felt beat down and insecure until I realized that maybe, just maybe, what was going on in that particular setting had NOTHING to do with me. Ironically, as proof of that, the next time I was in the same place with the same people just a few days later, the vibe was completely different and I felt welcomed and included. I later learned that there had been something going on with one of the employees in that facility during that particular visit. Why did I make it about me? It is amazing how we can internalize these experiences without being aware we are doing that. It happens almost as second nature. And it can be exhausting and draining and I wasted a lot of time, energy and brain power that day. (And I don’t have excess time, energy or brain power to waste).

I can recall numerous other times like that, where I’ve recognized the same feeling and then the same story line begins playing. “What is wrong with me?”  I have become a master story teller, creating all sorts of tales, weaving a tapestry of falsehoods to beat myself up and consume my thoughts with negativity. What a sad way to spend my time! That’s not how I want to live when there are so many other productive things I can be doing. Loving myself and others is one of the first alternatives that come to mind. (See “L” in S.L.O.W.)

AND as the universe would have it, right as I was in the throes of this realization, I happened to watch a previously taped episode of a Super Soul Sunday with Brené Brown. She and Oprah were discussing Brené’s newest book Rising Strong. They were discussing how we can sense something and then tell ourselves a story about what we feel and why, often times attributing that feeling to something that may or may not be true. Ding, Ding, Ding! The alarms were going off for me. That is EXACTLY what I had been experiencing. I was relieved, although not surprised, to hear that I am not the only person to do this dance. As I listened, I was grateful and became more determined to continue to practice this type of self-awareness personally and to help those around me.

And as they say “Be careful what you wish for” because days later, I was provided another opportunity to practice, but this time it was with a loved one of mine, going through that same struggle. They felt something, reacted to it, jumped to conclusions and it became bigger than it needed to. I was grateful to have had these recent experiences fresh in mind so I could help this person walk through the steps to find out the truth and get to a better place emotionally.

I am committed to acknowledging what I’m feeling and exploring where it is coming from. Maybe I did do something wrong and need to take responsibility. Or maybe someone said something to me and I need to get clarification on their intention. OR maybe I’m making up a story about the situation. If I’m fabricating a tale or line, that I don’t know to be true, I need to find out the facts and proceed from there. This approach feels much more freeing. It allows me to feel my feelings, resolve them one way or the other and move on. I don’t have to play and replay tapes, carrying around falsehoods, sometimes for not just hours, but days or years. We all deserve better, to be free from those burdens and  have the time and energy to love ourselves and others.