Personal Growth

The stories we tell ourselves…

So I’m in the middle of reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown (obviously I’m reading her work backwards) and I’m coming to a huge revelation about myself and my resistance to people. This book is mainly about how to rise again after you’ve opened yourself up and gotten shot down. It’s a hell of a lot more than that, but that’s it in a nutshell.

So I’m at this point in the book where she’s explaining that humans have a track record of making up stories to justify why they feel hurt. The crazy part is that we do it unintentionally without even realizing we’re making up a story to justify our feelings. To give an illustration, it can go something like this: We’re at work and we walk into the break room and see a coworker fixing coffee. We might say good morning and ask how his day is going. The coworker looks at us dead in the eye, picks up how coffee, and walks out of the break room without saying a WORD. Now we’re feeling some kind of way, we don’t know why that just happened, so immediately we start concocting a story. He’s racist. He’s sexist. He’s rude. He’s deaf. In reality we don’t know WHAT his deal is, all we know is we need an explanation as to why he just ignored us the way he just did.

Flashback to me and where I am. My go to whenever I feel offended is to dive in and see what I’m feeling and why. If I were in that same predicament that I described earlier, the process would go something like this:

Stage 1: My mental process kicks in and I immediately get pissed off and the stories start. I can’t come up with just one story, all I know is that my feelings are hurt because he just ignored me. The anger transforms to sadness and I don’t like it.

Stage 2: I know there’s something else there BECAUSE my feelings are hurt so I’m diving more into the feeling. The feeling is rejection. I put myself out there, I made an effort, he shut it down, and now I’m hurt. It reminds me of something. I’ve felt this before. This is like that time in 8th grade when…..

Stage 3: An AHA moment sets in. I didn’t realize I’d been holding on to something from the 8th grade and I didn’t realize it affected me the way that it did. That thing from the 8th grade has been shaping the way that I respond to rejection and how I feel about myself after the rejection. That thing planted a seed in me that I’m not good enough. The interaction with the coworker just made me feel not good enough… and that’s the story I created a long time ago.

And from Stage 3, I’ll likely start doing affirmations that I am enough. Or I’ll start building my self worth. There would be PLENTY of options but I can guarantee that I’ll move forward with some work on ME.

This is where my issue with people comes into play. People stop at stage one. They’ll create a new story and keep it pushing from there, not even realizing they don’t know what was really happening with the coworker. All they know is they don’t want to admit hurt feelings and they need a reason to justify whatever it is that they’re feeling. They create a story.

There’s one thing a person can do to me that can irk my nerves more than anything: Make me a part of their story. My work never stops at blaming someone else for how I’m feeling because I KNOW that I’m the only person that can determine how I’m feeling. No one can move me without my permission. Maybe I’m getting self righteous. Maybe my tolerance is low. Who knows, maybe I have unrealistic expectations. All I know, is that what I see in other people is a reflection of what I’m seeing in myself and I for damn sure don’t want to be racist, sexist, or rude and I don’t feel like I am. I know for a fact, that anything I’m feeling is my own creation, and mine to own, and no matter what someone else does.

So maybe that’s why it irks my nerves so much. I’m accountable for me. It takes effort to hold myself accountable and dig into what I’m feeling. It takes practice. I’ll be damned if anyone chooses to make me their problem when I’m only a piece to the solution. I am ALWAYS a reflection the same way everyone else is a reflection for me. I know that what YOU ARE, I AM, which is why I keep digging.

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