It’s funny, you know.
You have these stories that you create inside your head about a certain situation. You start convincing yourself of certain things because you tend to see yourself in the right. “she wronged me” “he betrayed me” “They don’t understand what I’m going through” “She did this to hurt me” and we manage to convince ourselves that these projections of our lives are the reality of the situation. Then we use these projections to propel and feed into our emotions of anger, resentment, hurt, guilt, and annoyance, and we see ourselves not only in the right, but also as the victim – the one to be pitied, and the one who didn’t deserve “any of this.” The one who can go and say “I did everything right, I am a fantastic person, and the fact that this other person did this to me, is unkind, unreasonable, and came out of nowhere.”
But every so often we’re brought back to reality. Some incident or conversation pops that bubble around us and we get that jolt of reality back. And the realization that not only did we play a part in what’s happening, but we may have even caused it. And then that view of the innocent bystander, the perfect friend, the wonderful companion… Is shattered, and you’re left with this feeling of “Well, how did I miss that?”
I used to feel like I’m fairly good at seeing the other side of a situation. If someone is ranting about someone else, I can be that person to be like “I hear you and I validate your feelings. But think of it from their point of view…” But that only works if I’m talking to a third party. If it’s me, then it’s “me vs. them” – it’s me creating myself into the good guy at all times, the hero of my own story, the star of the show, and the person who wronged me is the bad guy, me of all people – the person who just wants to do the right thing all the time.
It’s funny the lies we concoct to keep us feeling good about ourselves.
Those of you who know me, know that I’ve been recently very into Brene Brown, and you also know that her Netflix special, “Call to Courage” and her book, “Daring Greatly” have both changed my life.
She had this segment in the special where she said “The story I’m telling myself” and I’ve included that excerpt here:
I’m telling you, this is a magic sentence.
It’s a simple sentence.
It’s just the story I’m telling myself.
Because when something hard happens, our brain, which is wired to protect us above all else, wants a story.
It understands story and narrative pattern, and it says, “Give me a story so I can understand how to protect you.”
And it doesn’t want a story that’s like, “Well, I’m not sure. And…”
You know, that’s not useful.
It wants, like, bad guy, good guy, safe, dangerous, against you, for you.
And so we make up these stories.Brene Brown, Call to Courage
It comes back to the narrative – the narrative that we live our life around – about the people in our lives and the relationships that we have with them. It helps us make sense of things we can’t really understand with the limited information that we have. Creating that narrative helps us figure out how we feel about something that’s happening to us/around us. But of course, that also means not taking the limited information we have and immediately assuming the worst. It’s the projections of our experiences and insecurities, and it’s setting the stage up for potential disappointment, hurt, anger, resentment, and all the other feelings I mentioned above.
“The goal of the rumble is to get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggles, to revisit, challenge, and reality-check these narratives as we dig into topics such as boundaries, shame, blame, resentment, heartbreak, generosity, and forgiveness.”Brene Brown, Rising Strong (Page 77)
Today was one of those days where the narrative came crashing down. The way that my brain perceived the situation was not at all what was happening. I had a conversation that kind of jolted me back to be like, “see, sometimes there’s no good or bad guy, it’s just two people interacting in the way they know how, and projecting their own experiences into that interaction” – experiences, that no matter how hard we try, we’ll never completely understand.
So even though I think of myself as fairly empathetic, understanding, and kind, I’m also quick to judge and quick to turn on someone when I feel like they’re trying to hurt me. So maybe when we are exercising that self compassion for ourselves, we extend that compassion for other people and their experiences, and maybe hold off before the explosive, “ugh you don’t understand me” or “how dare you do this” or “whatever, I’m done” – which were, all feelings/thoughts I’ve had.
But more so, even if the narrative is different than the reality, I don’t think it means that my feelings associated with the event aren’t valid and aren’t justified. I think the trick is to find the correct middle between the narrative we create to protect ourselves and being too empathetic/apologetic that our insecurities took over. If anyone has able to reach that happy middle, then I welcome your advice!
Until the next story I tell myself,
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