Hopefully by now you’ve broken up with Rumination, Worry and Judgment/Self-Criticism. I know I have to keep a close eye on those three to keep them from slipping back into my life. Another trickster is around worth discussing, although realize this one is always going to be with us. Meet the Storyteller.
Storyteller shares the same DNA as the three friends we just kicked out, but deserves a special mention because no matter who we chose as friends, we’re going to find this one there. Being aware of our thoughts is the first step in identifying who lives with us. Listening to what stories are being told is the next step to changing them.
We make up meaning all the time and tell ourselves stories about everything that is happening. I call Storyteller a two-faced friend because sometimes those stories serve us, and sometimes they do not. Likewise, sometimes the stories seem very true, but that isn’t always the case.
See if you can catch yourself next time you are telling a story about something. Byron Katie’s work on this is really interesting. She has folks ask four questions: Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true? How do you react/what happens when you believe that thought? Who would you be without that thought?
Then comes the fun part. She has people do what’s called “turnarounds.” From her website, www.thework.com:
Each turnaround is an opportunity to experience the opposite of what you originally believed.
A statement can be turned around to the self, to the other, and to the opposite (and sometimes to “my thinking,” when that feels appropriate). Find at least three specific, genuine examples of how each turnaround is true in your life, and then allow yourself the time and presence to feel them deeply.
For example, “Paul doesn’t understand me” turns around to “I don’t understand me.” Find at least three specific, genuine examples of times that you have not understood yourself.
Another turnaround is “I don’t understand Paul.” Relax, close your eyes, and with an open mind witness as the images and feelings within you begin to show you, example by example, where you have not understood Paul. Be very gentle and thorough.
A third turnaround is “Paul does understand me.” Be still and witness as your mind reveals to you examples of how this turnaround is true. Those examples might look like:
a. He understands that when I’m angry I always get over it.
b. He understood me last week when he laughed at the joke I was telling him.
c. He understood me yesterday when I told him I really needed to get away with friends. He even stayed home with the kids.
As you can see, this type of practice can be pretty powerful. It’s a good one to start recognizing how our friend Storyteller can pretty much make up anything at all. So, what story are you telling yourself … and, perhaps more importantly, is it serving you?