How many times a day do we make up stories in our heads, either about ourselves or the people around us or the world we live in? Even stories about our future, about events that have not even occurred yet?
I estimate that I do it ten times a day. Maybe 20.
An Example: Someone walks out of my class early, and I tell myself a story that they hated me and/or my class.
Possible reasons: They had a doctor appointment. They had gas. They had to pick up their child. They forgot to feed the meter. They needed to tweet. They had to go to work. They decided yoga sucks. Class was too easy/hard. They felt sick. They thought planking was a fad, not a real yoga pose. They forgot to take their medication. They had a date. They were hungover, or wanted to develop a hangover.
Even if the "story" I make up is true, which I doubt, but even if so... so what?
Drumroll please... It's not personal anyway!
So today, I have decided to not make up any stories in my head about what I assume something or someone means about me. I have decided to no longer make up stories about my future based on fear or my past.
Eleanor Roosevelt said to me once over a good glass of Cabernet: “Jen, You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”
(Okay, maybe I read it somewhere on MindBodyGreen.)
5 Ways to Stop Making Up Stories in Your Head
1) Don’t believe yourself.
Listen to your story, but don’t believe it because it’s mostly fiction. As Iyanla Vanzant says: “State the Facts, Speak the Truth.”
So here's an example:
The fact: For years I waited tables and said I was a struggling actress.
The truth: I never wanted to be an actress.
The story: I wasn't good enough, I wasn't skinny enough, I was too old, and I was not pretty enough.
2) Remember what your "constants" are.
What are the things that have been with you always, even if sometimes they were cloaked in dark rags and mistaken for garbage? Even if they got lost in a bad marriage or a crappy job or confusion…
The constant is the part of you that you might think of as your highest self. For some that may sound too woo woo. Today, the mantra when the hands came to prayer was I am honoring ______.
If mantra sounds to airy-fairy or mumbo jumbo, then call it a Mind Tattoo. Tattoo in your mind your constant. Your constant is your mind tattoo, and if you don't tattoo it there, you might forget it.
When we remember our constants, it's easier to let go of the stories.
3) Share it with someone.
When we say it out loud, we often realize how silly it sounds. When we bounce it off people we care about or trust, sometimes that is all we need. To hear it out loud. To get it off the spin cycle, the repeat cycle, the stuck cycle, in our minds.
4) Ask ourselves if this story is a story we are re-living. Again and again.
A lot of times we make up stories to recreate what we already know. For example, if we have been treated poorly or abused or abandoned, we will sometimes make up a story that recreates that feeling. Not because it is what we want on a conscious level, but because we know it and believe it and are familiar with it. The devil we know is always better than the devil we don't. So we recreate familiar situations by making up stories.
5) Get out of your head. It's a bad neighborhood.
Someone said that to me once, and I never forgot it. It's true, isn't it? We over think things and chew on them like a bone that flavor has left long ago. We suck it dry until the story we have made up is a fact.
Once we get out of our heads, we can forget about the story.
Get out of your head by practicing yoga. By making a list of all the things you honor yourself for. By helping someone who needs you. By taking out a small paper and filling it until there is no more blank space with all the things that make you feel awe or wonder or inspiration. By loving more. By singing out loud. By doing karaoke yoga. By having a dance party.
There are loads of ways to get out of your head. Pick one or two or fifty, but just stay out of your head until you have forgotten the story you made up.