The Story We Tell Ourselves
I love a good story.
I used to pore over Disney movies and Grimm’s Fairytales. They always seemed to have a happy ending (note I did not read the original Grimm). I always felt happy and complete after reading their joyful lessons.
Unlike the happy stories from our childhood, there is often a very different kind of story we tell ourselves. These are the stories we have surrounding our emotions.
The trajectory looks something like this: I feel something. I don’t realize I am feeling this thing. It gets bigger and I tell myself a story about the feeling.
There is some evidence to show that our emotions (aka the neurotransmitters that trigger these in science speak) only live for about 90 seconds before dissolving.
You heard me right. Only ninety seconds of anger. Ninety seconds of frustration. Or ninety seconds of anxiety.
Whaaaat? You may be saying to yourself. Hold up. I’ve had these feelings for longer than ninety seconds for sure. The kicker is, you guessed it, the story we tell ourselves.
When we feel the feels we don’t just feel anger, feel frustration, or feel anxiety-we also begin to form a story around these feelings. And these stories, more often than not, can take a turn towards the darker Grimm’s tales.
Anxiety about that sound our car is making, turns to worry over needing a new car. Which leads to fear about our security and how we might pay for it.
You see, feeling the feels, aka emotions, is a part of the human experience. And as much as our culture has suggested we bury these feelings, it is OK to have emotions. You have a right to your feelings.
It is the story about these emotions that we can learn to be mindful of. Not to control the emotions. But to put them into much needed perspective and allow them to dissolve. As they were naturally designed to do.
Your happy ending is that you get to rewrite the story around your emotions at any time you wish. You are the author of the reality you create. And there is comfort in the remembrance that a story, really is just a story.
Make it a good one. Choose your happy ending. Even if that ending is only a single step in your happier direction today.
* For more on connecting to your true narrative check out this excerpt from Brene' Brown/Rising Strong