The Truth and Nothing but the Truth!
Yes, I am an inner peace coach. But I am also human. And sadly, I am reminded of this fact a gazillion times a day. Last week I had plans to swim at my friend’s house. I got my three small children changed, sun screened and ready to go. That is no small feat. My youngest just turned one and getting him ready to go to the pool has become a three person job and one of those people better be a member of the Olympic Wrestling team. I am convinced that dressing this baby has adequately prepared me to wrestle an alligator should the need ever arise. I get to my friend’s house and no one is there. I carry my ridiculously heavy, awkwardly large pool bag around back to see if they are already swimming. Nothing. I call one of their cell phones and learn that plans had changed last minute and that they were all at the park. I was fuming. I get in the car and tell the kids. They are sad. We start to make the ½ mile drive home and in that 1.5 minute drive here is what happened in my head:
I can’t believe they forgot to call me. So inconsiderate.
Clearly they don’t cherish my friendship.
They are probably sitting there now talking about me.
What did I do to them? I don’t remember doing anything to deserve this. This really hurts.
Maybe I am just not as close to them as I thought I was.
Mind you, these are two of my closest lifelong friends who have ALWAYS been there for me, always had my back but I had already had a hugely challenging morning and was exhausted from the night before. But do you see what I did right there? I made up a bunch of “truths.” And my body reacted to those truths. And so did my children. I was angry, breathing heavily, speaking in a dialect I like to call bitter staccato. Long story short, my friends felt awful. It was a miscommunication. They each thought the other had called me and three hours later we were totally fine, hugging it out, back to normal. Amazing that just shortly before then I was devastated and mentally convinced they were ending the friendship. Pay attention to how many stories you tell yourself throughout the day. Someone is late and immediately you think they must not value your time. You pass an acquaintance from your kid’s school and she doesn’t speak to you. You walk away ready to tell everyone who asks what a mega-bitch she is, or worse, you walk away wondering why you aren’t good enough for her to say hello to. Guess what? It’s all crap. You are making it up! You are one hell of a story teller aren’t you? We all are. And it sabotages our peace.
Inner Peace Principle: Seek the truth
In every situation you encounter ask yourself this question: “What do I know to be 100% true?” Usually you will find that the answer is a big, eye-opening “Not much!”
Maybe you have a friend who never calls you. She is always happy to hear from you, but if you were keeping score, (and many of us are), you are ALWAYS the one who calls. Odds are, you start putting some checks and balances on the relationship. You think back, checking the score card, coming up with all sorts of bullshit and false self-righteous thoughts like “I’m done! If she wants to talk to me, she can pick up the phone.” Perhaps your friend is struggling and breathes a sigh of relief when she hears your voice. Perhaps she thinks of you often, but with a bunch of kids at home just doesn’t find the time to chat with friends during the day. You don’t know. Read that again. YOU. DON’T. KNOW.
There is one thing we are all masters at and that is the art of Ego Story-telling. Ego Story-telling is when we have trouble getting out of our own heads. We assign blame, judgments and mis-placed anger. We weave tall tales about people we know, and don’t know, making assumptions about their lives, their character, their feelings about us. It’s all crap. I had a client call me a couple of weeks ago. He had been stood up twice by two different women and felt a dive in his self worth. “I’m just not good enough. Since the divorce, I’m broken and they can sense it.” I said, “Ok maybe. Or maybe they saw your pictures on facebook, were completely intimidated by how handsome you are and didn’t feel ready to put themselves out there. Hell you made up the other story, why not make up one that’s a little more fun and empowering?”
Similarly, I had another client who had a friend of the opposite sex that suddenly stopped speaking to him. He had reached out but to no avail. She was treating him totally differently, as though a five year friendship never existed. He was devastated, spent weeks trying to figure out what he had done, convinced maybe he had made her uncomfortable, or said something wrong. I asked what he knew to be 100% true. He replied, “Nothing. She won’t talk to me.” Exactly. He knew nothing. He had no idea why she had stopped speaking to him. Maybe it was because her husband didn’t like the friendship. Maybe it was because she had developed feelings for him. In this case, the truth may never be known so I encouraged him to let go of his attachment to it. In this situation, you make up a truth you can live with, one that empowers you and assigns love to them, and you move on.
We always have that choice. In any situation or any relationship we have the option to choose love, assume good intentions, be who we are despite who they are. We have no idea what someone else goes through 24/7. We don’t know their internal struggles, we might not know their goals, their feelings, their insecurities. What we do know is how we want to feel. We want to feel loved, validated and happy. So rather than coming up with a block buster worthy tale that fills you with resentment, try a happier script; one that offers love and forgiveness to the other person and power and peace to yourself. Save the drama for when Hollywood calls. 😉
Image from theyogablog.com