I know I’m not alone in this one – we all make up stories in our head!
This is something I used to really struggle with. Don’t get me wrong, I still catch myself making up stories in my head on the daily. The difference today is I have tools to combat the stories I tell myself and the ability to bring myself back to the present moment, which is all I really have. The stories that I make up in my head used to cause anxiety attacks or sometimes just fuel them.
I’ve struggled with generalized anxiety disorder for years and it ran my life until I started self-medicating…then the self-medicating ran my life, eventually causing more anxiety and a vicious cycle I’m grateful to no longer take part in.
Back to making up stories in our head…
It happens in many forms and we do it all the time. Someone doesn’t text us back about an invite and it’s because they don’t like us and don’t want to go. Maybe our boss writes a new dress code and it’s all because of our attire or, we don’t hear back about a job interview right away and it’s because we blew it. Sometimes it’s more egotistical (surprise – we can be arrogant) and sometimes its more humility based, but it’s rarely reality, and almost always fear based. Unfortunately, if we allow our minds to run rampant with stories it can cause us to react and behave based on our thoughts, inevitably creating the reality we fear the most.
Take the last example: we don’t hear back about a job interview right away and it’s because we blew it.
This probably comes from a fear that we’re not qualified for the job. As soon as you leave the interview, your head starts racing about all the things you did wrong, instead of what you did right. When we focus on the negative we spend the waiting period fueling anxiety ridden fears and wasting precious energy. The truth is you won’t know the truth until you get the call back. Why spend all that energy and time worrying when you can’t change what is and have no control over the outcome anyway? It’s because we live in fear of the past and the future, rather than being present in the current moment. Maybe you get yourself so worked up you send a follow up email over explaining yourself or correcting yourself, causing your prospective employer to be concerned about your confidence in your own abilities. Next thing you know you get a “we’ve decided to go in a different direction” call and before you know it you’re pounding the pavement again; in total frustration and a with another punch to your self-worth.
Now take the first example: someone doesn’t text us back about an invite and it’s because they don’t like us and don’t want to go.
This is a common story – we make up stories about what others think of us all the time. In this example maybe your head starts racing and you start thinking up all kinds of scenarios in your head. Remembering things, and “piecing together” conversations or other situations, all to justify the story that they just don’t like you. You may send a follow up text with some passive aggressive comment like “you could just tell me if you don’t want to go” or “okay, I guess that’s a no!” Maybe you act distant when you see them and give them the cold shoulder. All to avoid the rejection you’re expecting because you pieced together that magical puzzle about what’s going on in their head. Guess what? You get what you focus on. When behavior, based on false stories created in your head, starts to come out you end up manifesting exactly what you expect. I’d end up declining too if someone started acting snotty and passive aggressive toward me. The crazy part is now you’ve totally created the story you made up when, in all reality, the person was just waiting to confirm a babysitter for that night. Phew, we’re exhausting creatures!
These examples can fuel not only anxiety and fear but, self-esteem and self-confidence issues.
This is something I’m super passionate about. So many people have a lack of self-love based on what they believe other people think about them. We have no way of knowing what anyone else is truly thinking, yet we allow our thoughts about it to determine so many of our feelings about ourselves. Not to mention who cares what anyone thinks of you! Think about it…does what someone else thinks about you change at all who you really are? Only if you believe it…then it creates your reality. We allow our thoughts about what other people may, or may not, think to determine how we see ourselves and all that does is breed fear and self-loathing. It doesn’t change us, or the situation, just our thoughts about it.
If you haven’t read “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz it’s a wonderful read.
The premise of the book is that we create our own reality based on the agreements we make with our self. These agreements come from our culture, our belief in what others say about us, our upbringing and a plethora of other perceptions we create along the way. The third agreement “Don’t Make Assumptions” is all about making up stories in our head.
“Don’t Make Assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” Don Miguel Ruiz
It’s always best to communicate clearly. Instead of a passive aggressive “I guess that’s a no!” just ask the person when they’ll be able to RSVP to your invite. You may find out they thought they already sent a response, or maybe they’ll simply respond with an answer. It sounds so simple and it is. WE make it difficult.
If you find it difficult to ask for what you need then try redirecting your thoughts. If you have no control over when you’ll have an answer you might as well live in a comfortable place in your head while you wait. When your head starts to race just remind yourself that it’s just your egoic mind making up stories. Then tell yourself “there’s nothing I can do about this right now, so I’m going to focus on something more positive” and then try and find a positive distraction. Mastering your thoughts takes work, but it’s so much easier than dealing with the emotional energy it takes to turn that negative story into a reality.