I’m a pretty good storyteller in a professional context but my real skill is apparently in creating my own life ‘story’ in my head.* I immerse myself fully in that internal every time and I have a hell of a time separating that story from reality.
In fact, I usually only catch myself crafting that story when I hear someone else constructing one for themselves. I hear other moms do it all the time. Like the Mom from Taekwon-Do who, when I asked how her class went, told me that she has trouble getting all the info into her ‘little pea brain.’ And then her daughter repeated it but about her own brain.
It hurt to listen to. I tried to find some way to help her see herself a little differently so she could understand that the material she was learning was challenging so she should give herself a break.*** I don’t know if I convinced her, but I had to try.
It was only later that evening that I realized that half the stuff I tell myself about ‘the way I am’ at TKD is a story. I have to make sense of why I am not learning something fast enough or why I can’t land that kick and instead of just giving myself time to learn it, I make up some context. I tell myself that those things aren’t my strong point or that I don’t learn those things well or whatever occurs to me at the time.
Now, it is true that I learn a little differently than most other people in the class and that certain things are a struggle for me, but I need to beware of stories that set those things as part of my identity. Instead, they need to be guideposts that show me a different way to reach the same destination. As in, I need to say ‘Sometimes the choreography of the moves confounds me, how else can I learn this?’ or ‘I’ll just take this super slow until it clicks.’ That way it becomes about the process instead of about my personality.
Do you construct stories for yourself like this? Do you tell yourself that the house isn’t tidy because you are a terrible housekeeper? Or that your work is late because you are a procrastinator?
Do you think you could find a way to describe the issue in a way that *isn’t* about you being defective?
I’m working on this stuff for myself and my coaching clients all the time and, I swear, you feel much better once you realize it’s all a story and you change the ending.
*We all have this skill, of course. We have to make sense of our lives so we create a narrative that helps us sort the details. I just find it amusing that it catches me off guard so often. I’m a trained storyteller, you’d think I’d notice more quickly!
**Dear friends of mine reading this. YES, I KNOW. It’s like ‘Life coach, coach thyself!’