‘Once upon a time….”
We all love to tell and hear stories. In fact, we want to make everything into a story, something advertisers capitalize on. But often we get trapped by our own stories, when we weave a fact, a happening, an event, into a narrative. You get a poor mark on a math test and you create the story that you are not good at math, for example. Or your husband is snappy over dinner and you tell yourself that’s because the food must have been awful and you’re a bad cook and… And there goes our story, running away with us. We can write negative stories, and often do… but we can also write positive stories, and they’ll turn out much more ‘happily ever after’.
Here’s a simple story I told myself today, in the car coming home. I was hearing “He’s not talking to me. I must be a boring conversationalist. I said something wrong, didn’t I? ….” and the negative film was all ready to keep playing. I deliberately pressed the Stop button in my head and sat back and looked at the frozen screen behind my eyes.
In fact, I’d said nothing offensive. The conversation had come to a natural stop. He was tired after a long day of work, he was concentrating on driving in rush hour traffic, and we’d just had a pleasant time together out at a bookstore with our daughter. I started up another story instead, and this is what it told me.
“You had a good time. You are smart and witty, and the two of you were laughing only a few minutes ago. You are kind and patient, and you handled that bit with your girl responsibly and pleasantly. He is tired but he’s doing his best to get us home safely. Let’s think about what we can make for dinner when we do get home. You’re a good cook; I’m sure you’ll think of something….” A smile seemed to form on my face without me willing it, and my heartbeat slowed and I settled back in the care seat with a much better sense of restfulness and calm for the rest of the ride home.
It was a very short little story. But it really made a difference in my mood, and I was able to make a difference with my family when we all got home. I chose to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness, as the proverb goes. Why not try your hand at script rewriting? What could you tell yourself the next time you hear negative self-talk and what could you write in, instead?