Have you ever had an encounter with someone and throughout it all, found yourself listening more to the voice in your head telling you stories about what’s really going on rather than really listening to their words as spoken?
If you’re human, it’s inevitable.
We all do it.
Create stories in our heads about ‘the other’ even though the story isn’t based on ‘the now’ of who you’re interacting with or what’s really going on.
Let me give you an example.
If there’s one thing my beloved does that is almost always guaranteed to get my ire, it’s not call when he says he will. Now, I know my beloved. He is trustworthy. Honest. Kind. He’s also a single-minded extrovert who loves to be social. When out with others, whether a meeting or socially, he becomes so engrossed in whatever is happening he totally forgets the time and my need to be reassured he’s okay. (which isn’t necessarily healthy btw).
His single-mindedness is a fabulous trait when you’re the one with him. Not so great when you’re me, sitting at home, waiting for his call.
But here’s the thing. I know all of this about him. I know he’s not off doing nefarious deeds yet still my mind can go into overdrive, making up stories about how he is soooo inconsiderate, soooo thoughtless and, if I’m not carefully monitoring my thoughts and reining them in, how he can’t be trusted.
Even though none of that is true. The critter inside my head wants me to believe it is.
If I haven’t had a good talking with myself, when C.C. gets home, it isn’t pretty. I’m fussed and angry because my story-making has convinced me he’s wrong. I’m right.
Now, calling people when we say we will is a good thing to do. But my ire isn’t based on the here and now of who C.C. is and what I know to be true about him (he does get super-engrossed in where he’s at).
My story-making is based on past experience. It’s based on a time when I couldn’t trust someone. When they constantly lied about where they were, what they were doing, even to the point they lied about who they were doing it with and who they really were.
Because of that experience I have a fear-based belief inside me that says something like, “All men can’t be trusted.”
Not true. But if I’m not being conscious, if I’m giving in to my fears, that belief becomes the lens through which I see my beloved.
Now, I’ve spent a great deal of time and energy getting clean on that belief. I’ve delved into its roots and lovingly pulled them out to expose the fertile soil of possibility buried beneath them to the sunshine of my truth, “I am a trusting woman”. I am capable of making conscious choices to believe in myself, my capacity to discern and my ability to take care of myself. I am able to trust the trustworthy and recognize the difference between burying my head in the sand and standing tall in the light of Love.
Yet still, there are moments when I give into the darkness of the past and find myself making up stories that do not serve me well, nor C.C. Still, I am guilty of falling back into self-defeating behaviours that undermine the love and trust upon which we’ve built our relationship.
Getting clean on my story-telling means asking myself two really simple questions — and answering them honestly.
Is what I’m telling myself creating ‘we’ or is it setting us up with ‘me the victim/he the wrong-doer’?
Is what I’m telling myself about him (or anyone else) an excuse for me to avoid facing something I’d rather not deal with in myself?
.See, when we’re telling stories about ‘the other’, we’re generally avoiding getting clean with the real story about ‘what’s up with me in all of that?’.
When I’m looking at C.C. (or anyone else) as the cause of my dis-orderly thinking, I’m not being present in the here and now with my thoughts, words, actions. When I paint myself as the victim, I create a world of discord and disorder.
And yes, before you jump on the obvious, it is a good idea for someone to call when they say they will.
Not calling however, is not a criminal offence that needs to be dealt with through harsh words and accusations, especially when ‘the offender’ isn’t doing it maliciously.
Bottom-line, my words and actions aren’t about ‘the other’. They’re about me. Everyone is responsible for dealing with they’re own stuff. When I’m dealing with mine by making someone else ‘the problem’, I’ve got the problem.
I’m reading Judith E. Glaser’s fascinating book, Conversational Intelligence – How great leaders build trust and get extraordinary results. It’s what inspired my thinking about the stories I tell myself when I want to play the victim.