The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Our minds are amazing and tricky. They seek to understand. So often when we don't have an answer we fill in the blanks When we can't In that seeking they often create their own meaning. 
A conversation with an 8 year-old recently gave me some insight into how early we start this practice. It is already forming in her mind and messing with her feelings.  She was sad because a certain person "didn’t like her." I asked her what made her think that. Her answer was because a certain expectation wasn't met.

How often do we do a different version of this?

You've likely heard the premise, something occurs in our lives. Someone says something to us or does or doesn't do something that affects us and our mind goes to work. In and of itself this event has no meaning. The meaning is in the motive. Since we often don't know the motive and are hesitant to ask, our mind assigns a meaning to it. Our default is usually that it means something negative. We create a whole story around this illusive meaning and we believe it. We add to it with subsequent dealings with this person, putting a twist to them that support our story. We want to be right and make them wrong.

Often the meaning we assign to the event isn't true. The story is built on a lie. The resulting feelings we have toward that person are based on lies. We have replaced actually knowing them with the stories we tell ourselves about them. 

We learn this as children. I catch myself doing it and it's troublesome. It can trap us and enslave us. We are now subject to the story. It rules our feelings. The more we have invested in it the harder it is to admit that the story is a lie.  

This not only damages our relationships, it damages us. 

When we “build a case” against another, creating our own story devoid of truth we shut down good feelings toward the other. We replace them with hurt and resentment for starters. We become our own worst enemy. 

But what if instead of letting the story take us down destructive paths we stop and take a deeper look? Give the benefit of the doubt when we don’t know, seek to really understand when we need to? Live from a place of generosity toward others?

A friend told me of an experience she had with her 10-year old granddaughter.  They had been shopping and eating and having a fun visit. When they got in the car her granddaughter said to her “You looked at me funny back there”.  
“Really?” my friend asked
“Yes, like you were disgusted or mad at me”
“Wow, I wasn’t, tell me more”
They talked about it, cleared it up and went on with their outing. 

That we would all be more direct, curious, quick to clear up misunderstandings. 

What would be the consequence of greater honesty and grace in our relationships? When we are operating from a place of curiosity instead of hurt feelings we are free to look for the truth. We are not influenced by the desire to prove the other wrong. We can invite dialogue from a place of honest inquiry, with understanding being the hoped for result.

What stories are you hanging onto? Are they worth the cost of your relationships and of your own peace of mind?
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