I love Brene Brown’s latest Netflix special, The Call to Courage. It’s just a beautiful reminder and made me laugh and cry.
Brene describes a time when she and her husband, Steve, got into an argument on a family vacation. You’ll have to watch it to really see how wonderful she tells the story, but the brilliant take away she offers is to use this phrase in times of conflict…
“The story I’m telling myself…”
She explains that when something bad happens, our brains, which are hardwired to protect us naturally make up a story. “Your brain doesn’t want a wishy-washy story,” she says. “It wants a clear cut story-- where there is a bad guy and a good guy.”
This is why, when a partner or child doesn’t answer a text quickly enough, or they come home late, or they don’t help clean, or don’t acknowledge our new hair cut or they act defensive or withdrawn or exhibit any other human emotion, we might make up a story about it, often fueled by our own insecurities.
The story maybe something like, “My husband didn’t say my new haircut looks cute. He never looks at me. He doesn’t even care. It must be because I’m...“(insert whatever I’m feeling vulnerable about at this time.) fat...a loser...not worthy...unloved...
When in reality, maybe your partner/child didn’t answer the text because they weren’t near their phone, or didn’t have an answer, or in a meeting, or late because they heard the wrong time. Or maybe they didn’t notice the hair cut or came home late or were distant because they, too, were distracted and feeling less than and vulnerable.
The point is, whatever you’re telling yourself in these moments is just a story.
Everyone has one.
Another twist on this ... “The story I’m telling myself”, is turning what is happening in my life into a beautiful story without the other person changing at all.
Instead of …..You don’t answer my texts because you don’t care about me. I switch to …The story I’m telling myself is they love me even when they don’t answer my texts.
They are busy. I’m busy. I know they love me and our relationship is based on more than texts.
Instead of…You have time for all of your friends and not for me. I switch to… The story I’m telling myself is my children adore me and are lucky to have me as a mom. I love that they spend time with friends and cultivate those relationships. I have my own friends who are also valuable to me.
It feels like my new 5-word superpower.
It’s amazing how much easier it is to share what’s going on in our own insecure BRAIN when they’re couched as stories. With this one little turn of phrase, our BRAINS- not our partners or children -- are the enemy, so no one has to feel blame.
Brene reports that she and her husband have come to rely on this phrase. Since that fateful day, they’ve rarely had a fight that didn’t include each of them saying, “the story I’m making up right now…” (even if it is sometimes said through gritted teeth).
Try on your new superpower.
I dare you.