Create a New Story

 In America

A friend recently told me how her ex husband was purposely trying to piss her off by not responding to an email she sent him. She needed information about their kids’ insurance plans, and he carries them on his policy. She needed to make some important doctors’ appointments and was angry that he kept her waiting for an answer. “This is so typical of him,” she fumed. “He just wants to stress me out. Doesn’t he even care about our kids?” A couple of days later she’d had enough and left him a nasty message on his cell phone, demanding that he respond immediately. He did call her back and angrily informed her that his computer had crashed and he’d never gotten her email. What was a simple misunderstanding now escalated into an ugly argument. My friend got the information she needed but had created unnecessary drama by treating her ex rudely based on a story in her head. 

I hear these kinds of stories from my clients also. One complains that her ex’s wife is always rude to her and is obviously “out to get her”. She describes this woman’s behavior as proof that she intentionally tries to make her (my client’s) life miserable. And my client IS miserable because she can’t stop obsessing about what this woman will do next, dreads having to see her at school events and suffers from the bitterness she feels towards her. I believe that what she is doing to herself is far worse than what this other person can do to her. Sleepless nights and stressful days result from her ruminating about this situation.

Both of these smart, capable women are unaware that they’ve created a story about how they’re victims of these villains in their lives. When we automatically assign negative motives, intentions and thoughts to people we are always creating a story, even though we might insist it is the “truth”. But the truth is always our interpretation of facts. Two people witnessing the same  circumstance can have have different responses depending on their perspective. We generate drama in our minds when we observe something and interpret it in a personal way. How your ex’s wife relates to you at a school recital takes its meaning through the filter you choose to view it. If you think “Her behavior is her responsibility. It has nothing to do with me,” you are not generating emotion.  But if you think “that b****—there she goes again, being rude to me. What’s her problem??” you are generating LOTS of negative emotion that only hurts you.

If we want to develop a new story for ourselves we have to be willing to part with the old one. This can be hard if we’ve been telling a particular story for a long time. And when we don’t want to relinquish our (very human) impulse to see ourselves as wronged, misunderstood, blamed, unappreciated, having failed or messed up. It’s crazy how hard it can be to stop telling ourselves things that make us feel terrible. A powerful way that I change a dis-empowering story for myself is to to tell myself things like Nothing has gone wrong here; No one can hurt me unless I believe what they say; I have my own back; What can I learn from this? and How can I feel peaceful about this?

I’ve had to drop lots of “stories” on my path towards emotional freedom: about my ex, about friends who “failed” me, about many things that didn’t turn out how I’d hoped. The result is that my new story becomes one of perseverance, spiritual and emotional growth and optimism about what is possible. Are you ready to write a new story today? Become the heroine of your life and discover how it transforms around you.

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