Stories and How To Change Them
Have you ever left the house, driven down the road and wondered something along the lines of, ‘Did I switch the iron off?’ or ‘Is the grill still on?’ Then on returning to the house you realise your concern was completely unfounded?
Did I Leave the Door Unlocked?
The other day I faced a similar dilemma. My husband, as he left the house for a run had said, ‘Don’t forget to keep the door unlocked so I can get back in.’
I then left for a very important appointment. Sure enough half a mile away from the house I had that nagging feeling, ‘Did I leave the door unlocked?’ Immediately I told myself off, ‘Of course you left the door unlocked, stop doubting yourself’. But the thought just wouldn’t go away.
It was with some relief that my mobile rang 20 minutes later. It was the home phone, so my husband must have got into the house. However on pulling over and answering the call I soon realised all was not well.
He was phoning using the house phone, but only after reaching it through the letterbox. He was locked out.
So what should I do? Should I turn around and go home and be late for my important client? Should I continue my journey and feel guilty all day? What would you have done?
Making up Stories
Often when something like this happens to us we automatically go into a ‘story’ in our heads. For example my husband’s story could have been, ‘She obviously doesn’t love me any more.’ I on the other hand could have thought, ‘I’m hopeless, I deserve to be miserable all day for such a terrible mistake.’
Most of us make up these kinds of stories all the time. We conclude that we or others are (for example) hopeless, unreliable, uncaring or stuck up. We are constantly judging and comparing other people and evaluating their behaviour.
Thinking like this is exhausting! When we start to attach a meaning to something it becomes a millstone.
Get Over Stories
Practise seeing any situation as nothing more than an event. Separate your feelings from the ‘event’ and consider how you might best deal with it.
For example if you lock your husband out of the house you can tell yourself the story that you’re hopeless. The other alternative is to find a solution.
So what happened with my husband? He turned down my offer to send a taxi back with the keys. Instead, jumping on his bike, he cycled 15 miles to pick up the keys from me. I then took him out for lunch by way of an apology.
Positive solutions are possible. Just be prepared to throw away your negative ‘story’. When you throw away those negative stories, life opens up to many more possibilities.