Has someone every said something to you that hurt you? Do you know if that was what was intended? Do you know if you interpreted what they said correctly?
I remember being at a friend’s place for supper (back in the day when we were allowed to visit friends- thank you, COVID-19!). She had spent the whole day preparing for this meal and it was delicious. I was stuffed. But when dessert was served, I suddenly had room for it. Not just one piece, but two! I remember when I was putting the second piece of cake on my plate beside the second helping of ice cream, she made a comment, “You must really like the food.”
And my mind went berserk. What is that supposed to mean? Yes, I like food. I like food too much. I know I ate a lot. I feel like a pig eating at someone else’s house. I’m not supposed to eat this much. I know I’m cheating on my diet. But how did she know that? I didn’t tell her I was on a diet? Does she think I need to be on a diet? Does she think I’m fat? She probably thinks that my clothes are too tight. She’s appalled at the amount of her food I’m eating. I wish there was a way I could put the piece of cake back. I’m such an inconsiderate loser. A fat, worthless, inconsiderate, selfish loser!
Meanwhile, on the outside, I had stopped eating and was frozen there. She asked me, “Is everything alright? Are you okay?”
Holding back tears, I looked her in the eyes. “Yeah, I’m okay. I just really enjoy the taste of this food.”
She looked so relieved. “Oh! I’m so happy to hear that! I’m not a very good cook and I was very worried that the meal was gross. And that the dessert was a complete flop. I was so embarrassed to serve this pathetic excuse of a meal to you. I was afraid you were actually hating it and just pretending to like it. That’s why I said what I did, ‘You must really like the food!’”
I started laughing and explained what had happened in my head when she had first said that comment. We both laughed at our…humanness. We talked about the situation and were both grateful that we had learned the perspective of the other. We admitted that it made us feel closer together because we understood each other better.
Here’s what I learned: check the facts of the story you’re telling yourself.
The story I was telling myself of her accusing me of over-eating was not in the least bit true! If I wasn’t given the opportunity to hear what was behind the comment my friend had said, I would have wasted a lot of emotional energy for nothing and the false story would have put a wedge in our relationship. Then it would have taken even more energy to heal a wounded relationship…that was wounded because of a false story.
Do yourself a favour, save yourself a lot of energy, and check the facts of the story you are telling yourself.
Where in your life are you believing a mentally constructed story to be true and factual?
What would happen if you checked the story?
There are many ways that we create stress and energy drains for ourselves. Mentally constructing stories is only one way. Learn to stop creating stress in your life and get the tools to conquer ALL kinds of stress with one-on-one coaching.
Here’s to conquering stress.
The Stress Experts
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