When something discouraging happens, it’s really easy to create a story in our minds in which we are at fault for the uneasy feelings that we experience. This can take us too far away from having the fun in life that we deserve, and sometimes we just have to reconfigure our thinking a little.
Sometimes we go through things that aren’t that big a deal, but still manage to get bigger and badder than necessary.
For example, whenever I went on a date that I thought had gone really well but then I didn’t hear back from the guy, it was sort of disheartening. In the past, I would create a story in my head to help me better understand why things didn’t work out:
He probably found someone prettier. I must not be good enough. I guess he didn’t think I was funny.
It’s all rubbish.
It’s really easy to fall into a state of suffering and despair when we feel rejected. When we create reasons without having proof, it can totally zap the fun out of being a free-spirited human being.
I’ve talked to friends who vent about how awful they feel after they aren’t asked out on a second or third date, or after they find out that the guy they were falling for suddenly entered a relationship with another woman instead. They give up so quickly and fail to see that dating is a whole lot of trial and error. They forget that they’re allowed to check one guy off the list and try again with someone new. In some countries, women don’t get the privilege of choosing who they date (or get to date at all), and here we have so much freedom to do so. We get so angry anyway.
I keep that in mind whenever the chance comes to meet up with a handsome fellow. I sit back and put myself in a place of gratitude and leave the house in a positive state of mind. I don’t create a story in my head about what I can do to possibly ruin the date. I don’t try to bum myself out by preparing myself for rejection. That’s very foolish and it takes the fun away from the whole thing.
This sort of thinking, however, doesn’t only apply to dating.
When you become aware of the stories you create, you can empower yourself by remembering that you are in charge of them. When you hear a comment or opinion that you feel applies to you, I can assure you that it’s a mistake to assume someone is trying to make a jab at you. Unless they are telling you directly that you are the one being discussed, never ever create a story in your mind that you’re the person in question.
It happens often, doesn’t it? We hear something in a conversation or read an awkward email, and it sort of puts a coppery feeling in our chests. In fact, I have to admit to some anxiety whenever I get an email, a facebook message, etc, because a story forms in my head that something is wrong and I should prepare myself to feel horrible. When my best friend was in a cranky mood one night, I mistakenly assumed she was upset with me. A story formed in my head that maybe I’d done something wrong and that was why she wasn’t answering a text message. The reality was completely different. She was just exhausted from school and work!
I have to remind myself to stay in control of my reactions. I snap out of it and put myself into an empowered state of mind, one that can handle any good or bad news and answer to it bravely. I’ve joked on Twitter about this anxiety, but obviously a direct message never actually killed me, even if I felt like throwing my computer across the room.
My wish is for all of us to have the strength to redesign the stories that form in our minds about who we are and how people feel about us. We are always in charge of how we interpret what people say, and we can choose to not read everything as though it’s a hurtful statement. Most of the time, we are utterly incorrect, and that’s a huge relief. These are the words I repeat to myself when I need to create an empowering moment.
Featured Image by Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Marianna is Managing Editor of the content at HelloGiggles.com. She works at a middle school during the day and does a lot of freelance writing on weekends. She tweets as @WritingInBed and updates on tumblr. You can also friend her on Facebook and possibly be invited over for dinner.